"What do you want to be?" "Happy," she says with a smile. - Colleen Hoover

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I'm A Duff: Brittany

Todays DUFF story belongs to my new friend Brittany who is a fellow blogger. Check out her blog Space Between The Spines here!!
When I asked Brittany if she'd care to share her story she did so without hesitation and that means so much to me.
While I was reading her story I started to tear up because we've all been in her shoes.
I think what she has written is beautiful and inspiring and I'm positive that you all will agree with me.
This girl is beautiful inside and out and I'm so happy she's shared her DUFF story with all of us.

I’ll be honest – I’ve never really felt much of a need to read The DUFF. I mean, why would I want to read a book about a set of friends who admit to having a Designated Ugly Fat Friend? But I’ve learned that it’s actually a pretty decent book and, if we were all honest with ourselves, there is at least one point in our lives in which we felt inferior and like a lesser person than another, whether it was someone in your family or social circle. So, when I was approached to participate in this lovely series, I thought it would be nice to share my own little story.
Unlike others who have been featured before, rather than just have one specific moment in which I felt like a DUFF, I felt like I /lived/ the title. Growing up, I had always been a quiet, reserved girl and highly intelligent. As such, I guess it was hard for other kids to approach me and, when they did, it was usually to tease me or to use me in some way. I can’t tell you the number of times when I was in middle school that I had someone pretend to be my friend – or had guys pretend to like me – just so that I would “help” them with homework or projects. “Help” by which they wrote down every answer I had word for word. It hurt, thinking that I was making friends, only to have them use me, then toss me to the wayside. In some instances, I’d even hear them whisper about me in the hallways and snicker as I walked past. Eventually, I just grew more reserved. I read. I wrote. I minded my own business. I became the weird, smart girl that didn’t want anything to do with those around me or even with school, seeing as I was so often unchallenged in class. There were times I remembered begging my mom to let me stay home from school simply because I didn’t want to endure the teasing or because I was so bored with school. Why go and be babysat for eight hours a day when I could stay home and read or write my novel?
(As much as I stayed to myself and was teased, though, I managed to make a few good friends, all of which have proven to be true friends and have stuck by me unconditionally over the years. Of course, they all were like me in a sense, in that we were smart, creative types that often stuck to ourselves.)
My behavior really came to a head in high school. While my family had known that I had trouble with people and with accepting myself (I had always been hard on myself, particularly concerning my grades. I was a perfectionist to a fault.), it wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school that my anxiety and depression hit full force. I was very critical of myself. I wasn’t fashionable as the rest of the girls in my class. I wasn’t as skinny or as bubbly or as popular. I was largely overlooked and the anonymity with which I had taken solace in in middle school started to get to me, too. No one really knew the real me, save for my own good friend I’d met my freshman year. Even worse, to my teenage self, it felt like any assignment in which I got less than an A was a failure. After all, GPA was important. A good GPA meant a good selection of colleges and/or scholarships, which meant a better education, which meant a better job, which meant a more successful life, right? I’ve learned – after years of therapy – that this polarized thinking as well as isolating behavior was detrimental to my health, rather than helpful.
Long story short, I spent the majority of my high school career hating myself and who I was. I wished to be someone else, but never really had the courage to change myself or to embrace the real me. Fortunately, with medication and therapy, I grew to love myself. Sure, there will always be aspects of myself that I don’t like – and everyone likely feels the same way – but I learned that I don’t have to live my life to please others or go out of my way to be accepted. I am me, take it or leave it.
I guess if there is anything that I want someone to take away from this is that life is far too short to spend berating yourself, of being critical of the real, unique you. If other people don’t like you, that’s their problem, not yours, and you don’t need such toxic people in your life anyway. You’re beautiful, you bring a spark and joy to this world that no one else can. It took me nearly ten years to learn this.
If there is one thing that I find most valuable in myself, it would be the compassion and empathy I have for others. Having gone through depression and anxiety, having lived that nightmare, I know how hard life can feel at times. I’m always willing to lend a shoulder or listen ear to those in need and don’t hesitate to share love. Sure, I might get used on occasion like I did as a child, but to know that I made at least one positive impact on another – especially when they were feeling low – is satisfying. And as for my best physical feature, I have /adorable/ dimples.
I’ve come to see Rachel Platten’s hit single “Fight Song” as my personal anthem – it’s all about not giving up and being heard but seeing as SOMEONE already used that in a DUFF post (Kayleigh =P), I feel that Sugarland’s “Little Miss” accurately portrays me, too. It’s a song about quiet strength, about being more than we ever realize we are.

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  1. Thank so much for having me, Kayleigh! That post is totes sweet! <333

    1. Oh no, thank you!! I absolutely love what you wrote. <3