I was voted off the lunch table in eighth grade–> survivor style. Now, I find this quite hilarious, but my 13 year-old self sure as hell did not find it funny. It all started because I would not lie about my best friend doing her reps in gym, when she didn’t do them (honesty). Which led to her calling me a bitch in front of the entire class. Which led to me telling her not to ever call me a bitch again (self-respect). Which led to me being voted off the lunch table. Which led to me being taken to the counselor’s office because I smiled too much, and it was offensive to this now ex-best friend (I cannot make this stuff up).
I was made fun of to no end for the clothes I wore in high school. I was either somewhere between a slut or a Mormon, and no one could ever decide where my fashion sense fell. On top of that, I was the strong-silent type that liked to get my work done rather than gossip about all of the other girls. This led me to get the rep of being “stuck-up”.
I also refused to sleep with anyone in high school. That led to very few boyfriends, and being teased beyond belief.
The point? I can find this all hilarious years later because I now realize that every one of those things that were considered ‘flaws’ and led to semi-bullying are actually the strengths that landed me every one of my successes in my adult life.
My gosh, as an adult we now struggle to find anything different about ourselves so we can stand out among our competition. The things we used to hide as adolescents, are now the very things that get us just a little more ahead in life.
The honesty of not lying for my best friend in eighth grade, has translated into a strong work ethic and integrity at my jobs. There have been many situations where coworkers have wanted me to lie for them, and my refusal has led to recognition from my bosses as being a trustworthy employee.
The self-respect and assertiveness of not standing for someone calling me a bitch in a large crowd has translated into me standing up for myself when coworkers try to put me down, and has given me the confidence to do great work.
Smiling too much has come in probably the most handy as I’ve grown into an adult. You can absolutely never smile too much, and though it rubs people the wrong way sometimes (which is beyond me), it is absolutely astounding how far a smile can go in any environment. Taking the high road always pays off, believe me.
That off-the-map fashion sense I had? Well, that landed me incredible modeling gigs that helped me pay my way through college in Miami.
Being the strong-silent type? It’s translated into me being a hard-worker and avoiding most office drama.
Not sleeping with anyone in high school has translated into me holding on tightly to my morals and values, which can easily be lost when you enter the working world and want to climb the ladder. Being teased for that in high school prepared me for professionals that try to sway my morals and values in the office, whether it’s lying to a client or posting content I disagree with.
If you’re still in school, then take this as a testament that everything you are a given a hard time about now, will end up being so beautifully successful for you in the future. You will absolutely cruise past anyone who finds the time to ridicule you, finding jobs way more successful than theirs, because you have the self-belief and confidence that employers are looking for.
If you’re already in the workforce, can you think of flaws you were teased about in school that have translated into successes for you in the real world?
What would I say today to the girl who voted me off the lunch table and took me to the counselor for smiling too much? THANK YOU. You helped prepare me to deal with things so much bigger than getting voted off a lunch table. <3
-Marji J. Sherman