The Narrative

My mum sent me some old photos a while ago, many of which I hadn’t ever seen before.

I’m not sure if this will make sense to everyone but bear with me. In life, we create a narrative for ourselves. It’s a narrative that explains away things, justifies them, even perhaps excuses them. Narratives are built slowly, added to by many people – yourself, parents, siblings, friends etc. They are built by comments, thoughts, sometimes the most innocent of things said, words used – they can cause a massive shift in perception. The narrative that played in my mind was that I was shy, meek, sad, frustrated, aggressive as a child. Hence, I never fully believed that there could be a possibility of being anything different as an adult from the story I had playing in my mind of myself as a child. I never considered that these qualities were perhaps not really me, but a mechanism built to make me feel safer, more protected from situations that made me feel uncomfortable, or that I was surrounded by.

For years, I’ve been working on understanding and updating that narrative. A lot of it was the result of being misunderstood, very sensitive (no change there), and being surrounded by people who perhaps weren’t in the best of places themselves (or in the case of certain teachers who outright told me and/or insinuated that I was “stupid,” plain ignorance).

Sure there may have been moments of sadness, of shyness, moments where confidence was lacking. But when I look at these photos, that’s not what I see. I see a funny, playful, confident child. There is a light in her eyes.

So could it be that I’ve been fuelling the wrong narrative? The same story I’ve been giving myself to “understand” myself with…. has not actually been my story at all? Maybe just a fraction of it, a part that existed but wasn’t the full story, and yet I’ve chosen to only see that picture.

I didn’t quite realise it at the time but something in me changed when I saw those photos. I felt subtly different. There was a new confidence that seemingly came out of no where, almost like I met myself as a child and saw someone unexpected.

My point? Be aware of the narrative you create for yourself. It might not be completely real.

Also, HOW important are photos?!! I can’t say this enough. Kids need to see photos of themselves. Hell, adults need to see photos of themselves. We are constantly taking in information, forming opinions from other people’s words and body language, but we forget ourselves.

If our opinion of ourselves is the one that matters the most, why do we not focus on it that much more?

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