When I was in high school, I read a lot. I remember, my freshman year, the month of February, I read a book a day. Granted, they were YA books, meticulously selected from the school library, and only roughly three-hundred pages each, but I poured over them and blazed through each tome as if it were my best friend.
As high school progressed, my avid love of reading did not dissipate. My school was massive, with nearly three thousand people within the East campus. As the hallways were so crowded- where I felt like cattle being steered into the barn- I was able to read during passing periods. How? you may ask. A simple technique of simultaneously seeing the words on the page, and the feet of the person in front of me: I shuffled along from class to class, reading whatever my heart desired.
The point of telling you all this is simple: I found out after graduation that many of my peers thought I was some sort of snob, an intellectual “too good” to engage with my classmates.
I was confounded when I heard this “well-understood” opinion of myself.
Because I read to ease my own loneliness. I read because it was easier to bury myself in literature than to join in the banter of my schoolmates. Books would never reject me. Books would never think my ideas petty or stupid, inadequate or lame.
It amazes me, to this day, how others can form opinions of us based on their own observations. Natural enough, what else can be done?
We each move through life with our own perspective, making judgments and assessments of those around us.
I write today with a simple message at the core: if we look at ourselves closely enough, we realize that who we are on the inside is much greater, more beautiful, more profound and wonderful than most of us have the ability to express onto others.
That said, it is my hope that the next time you form an opinion about someone else, remember this message: who we are on the inside is not often easily seen.
We are given fleeting moments to make an impression upon others; like snapshots, these occurrences happen so fast, they are usually over before we realize what impression has been made.
This last summer, I underwent a series of “manic episodes,” some so severe, I am ashamed to this day. I have all but disgraced my own name, the name of my husband and his family. This is something I live with daily, and will spend the rest of my days overcoming; because what others see of us can effect so many things: career opportunities, community respect, friendships and family relationships.
While I accept that I must and do take responsibility for my actions during this past Summer, I can’t help but hope that people will understand: mental illness can be socially damaging. While some may see and hear me acting erratic, speaking nonsense, and making a downright fool of myself, what is happening on the inside can only be described as traumatic: a misfiring of neurons within the brain is occurring, and without medication, I am powerless to control myself.
I have been back on my medication for some months now, and it’s been a journey of picking up the broken pieces of my life. While many family members have been loving and forgiving, others will still not speak to me: I still love and miss them truly.
In closing, I just ask, once more, that before you assign anyone with your opinion of who you think they are as a person, you will realize: it takes a long time to really know someone, and it is a continual effort we must put forth to love, honor, and cherish those around us as much as we hope they would feel the same for us. This life is too short to hold grudges, and more-so, too precious to sacrifice time that could be spent together by feeling angry or hurt over the past: forgiveness is something required even for our own inner peace; and to withhold such, causes more pain than the scathing incident does to begin.
I hope the best for you all.