Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Paradigm of Others' Propaganda

Dear Readers,

It can be somewhat of a daunting experience to grow up, not only with other siblings, but particularly, siblings of the same gender.  The issue that comes with it is that you will undoubtedly be compared and judged against your siblings.  This is what happened to me.

I was born the third girl out of four sisters.  From the moment that I could talk, it was very apparent that I had a speech impediment.  I had a stuttering problem that I had to go to speech therapy to get over.  But like the overwhelming pressure that comes with first impressions, it's even worse when that first impression is with your family.  Because, like in other scenarios, when a person's first impression of you is cemented, it's hard for them to shake that.  So, though I grew out of my stuttering problem, for years I was still treated as a child who had it.

People were cautious to engage me in conversation, and their own ignorance of what my speech impediment meant to my intelligence (which was nothing) played against me.

So I was raised always hearing:  "Amber is so witty!"  "Kelli is so intelligent!"  "Kayla is so brilliant!" ... "Look at Kendra, isn't she pretty?"

I remember always sitting back, in my encouraged silence, just wanting to engage in the conversation, prove to others that I am more than what they thought I was.  But, no one ever wanted to give me the chance... well, except for my father.  He always gave me the option to speak up, no matter how long it took me to work through my words, and in actuality, I'll always be indebted to him for it.

But for years, there was always that fear that I didn't have anything to offer, outside of my appearance.  My elementary teachers, who taught my two older sisters before me, would openly ask in front of me:  "Amber and Kelli is so smart, and intelligent sounding.  What happened to you?"

Even though I knew I had more to offer, I began to buy into others' rhetoric about me.  I began to downplay my own intelligence due to some warped version of allegiance to them, because I didn't want them to seem dumb.

When being introduced to new people, my family would spout out a false decree of who I was, and I felt so much pressure to live up to it.  Even though I knew it was a lie, there was so much pressure to be who others felt like they'd conjured me to be.

It wasn't until my freshman year of high school.  I went to a different high school from my sisters my freshman year because we moved, and my sisters' high school allowed them to do one more year there.  So, for the very first time in my life, I didn't have someone else speaking about me, my personality, my thoughts, my actions, my life.  I was allowed to just be me.

From that moment on I took the opportunity to write my own history about  myself.  I was unapologetically Kendra.  The words that defined me were my own, and the images that people saw were illustrated by me, not the false propaganda of others.

What I'm trying to get across to you, Dear Readers, is that there are going to be times when people falsely paint you into a circle, but once that paint dries, it's up to you to either stay in it, or truly move about, taking your own steps, and following your own path.

Don't allow the words of others to dictate how you should behave, especially if it's something outside of your true nature.  Because, just like the purpose of this blog, and the sociological theories that preempt it, I learned that the only person that can write my life story is me.

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