I didn’t have self belief

Fighting to exist through the fear of failure, judgement, and expectations of being the “norm,” I found it hard to define the meaning of normal growing up, as well as trying to work out the ideology of others. Telling myself I am normal and trying to act in a way perceived to be normal at each stage in my life, I always doubted that I had achieved society’s requirements.

I didn’t fit in t the dogma of what my peers defined. I was never the smartest, most athletic, prettiest or the most willing to follow the crowd. I didn’t keep up with the latest music, TV shows or trends, I instead enjoyed these as they become “old” or unpopular. I always think back to situations in my life and wonder what I would say to myself if I could go back in time, or if I could talk to a class of students at the same age I was when I didn’t consider myself “normal”.

What would I say? How would I inspire them? How would I help them to overcome the fear of judgement and the expectations to fit in with their peers?

Realise that it is braver to be who you are than it is to fit in. Work hard to become powerful, unique and skilled in your own right. Realise that “normal” is you define for yourself. Acknowledge that to overcome something does not mean you are cred of “not being normal”.

It doesn’t matter if you struggle at school and are behind your peers. It doesn’t matter if your interests lie elsewhere. Throughout my life, I have battled with this; I never imagined that I would go to University. I didn’t have self-belief as a teenager and I didn’t define myself as “normal”, because my grades didn’t match that of my peers. I felt too young for makeup or boyfriends because my journey was slower. There was no way I thought I would succeed in getting to the same level as others.

As an adult, I realise that I am my own “normal”, and that is okay. I am not afraid to be different or stand out or go at my own pace. My message to others is it is ok to be you. It is ok to be different. It is ok to be who you are and be proud of it. Never let the fear of not conforming define you.

This inspiring story was taken from ‘Speechless’, Roehampton students project on getting students talking.