When Life Goes Kaput
by Christie Perkins
I was in the 6th grade. I ran for class secretary. I made a little poster up about all the cutesy little reasons you should vote for me. I used each letter of my name to highlight the perfect reason. Oh, they were all good, strong, verb words. Well thought through, great dictionary material. I was sure this was enough to get me what I wanted most in my 6th grade little brain. I was brave…
Not because I was cocky, it was quite the opposite. My face would burst into spontaneous flames if a cute boy glanced my direction- he was probably looking at the girl behind me. Anyway. But, still, no one tries these things unless they think they have a chance.
I remember when they announced my challengers name as winner. I faked a smile and pretended to be excited for her but that fat sour grape stuck in my throat hurt. Where did it come from anyway? It was making my eyes all watery. So, I did what I’ve always done in this type situation.
I prayed to not cry.
Oh, I prayed. Then, I avoided every possible conversation for the rest of the day. Good thing I was naturally shy. The day seemed to stretch into a week. It was long, to say the least. I couldn’t wait to get home to water the corner of my dark closet with tear drops. Who cares if there were spiders there?
I hate spiders.
The ride home was even longer. My mom worked at the school and she always brought me home. How could I tell her I lost? My parents made me believe I was good enough, strong enough, cool enough. I was so embarrassed.
I wasn’t enough.
I pretended to be interested in something outside the car window, because I really was. Anything was better than the “I’m a failure” conversation emerging.
“How was your day?” my Mom asked.
“Good,” I said recognizing that avoiding eye contact with just one person was much more pleasant than a classroom full of eerie, peering eyes. So, it wasn’t a full blown lie just a recognition of truth of this small little moment of my day. Yeah, that’s it. And quite honestly it was the only word that could squeeze past my sour grape lodged throat.
The rest of the ride home was silent. How could I tell my mom that I had let her down, that I was a fool, that I could never face anyone ever again? I was doomed.
But, somehow she already knew.
As soon as we pulled into the garage my mom hurried into the house. I wished to beat her there. I guess when you don’t lose your face in a race you have more spring in your step. I guess.
I opened the door and my mom and dad stood there waiting for my entrance into the house. A bubble of purple balloons filled the space. Ribbons springed and curled into smiles. Sunshine bounced off balloons and caught my eye.
They handed me the congratulatory card.
Oh no. They didn’t know. Pop. Pop. Pop.
“I didn’t win,” I said tipping my head down so I wouldn’t have to meet their gaze.
What happened next was something I’ll never forget. Ever. But, I think you never forget moments of genuine love.
“We know.” They said as they put their arms around me and gave me a squeeze. They knew? Like, they actually knew I was rejected, unaccepted, and a loser. And, they still accepted me?
These things don’t define who you are, they define what you are made of. I was more than just a 6th grade secretary loser. There was more to me that I didn’t see. My parents had written everything they liked about me on the card. They were proud of me? They acknowledged my value when I couldn’t see it.
I still had a good hard cry but it was emotions of losing mixed with a calm assurance that I was still loved.
They were my fan when it felt as if no one in the entire planet was. I now am grateful for that loss. It was a defining moment for me.
I learned self worth by losing to my competitor. I mark up that personal battle to a win by a landslide. But, even more than that my relationship with my parents changed that day. Not that it was ever bad… it was just better. In that moment I knew with a surety that when the world was against me I had my own personal fan club.
I needed that.
Create Your Own Fan Club
I believe the most important thing you can do for anyone is to become their fan. Everyone needs a fan. Seek out your loved ones, your enemies (yep, enemies), your acquaintances, those you need to forgive, those that you judge; those that judge you. Take their hand, and become their fan. Here’s a few simple steps to being the best fan you can:
F Flatter. What flatters you about them? This is by far, the easiest part of becoming a fan of those you love and hardest thing to find about those you struggle with. Find at least one thing that you admire about this person. Take mental note or even better, tell them or write them a note. Everyone has something good about them. Be specific.
A Accept. What can you accept about them that you cannot change? (PS you can’t change anyone, they change themselves.) See them for what they are: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Accept them for who they are. This method is to overlook weaknesses. Because everyone has weaknesses. No one is perfect. I know big whopping surprise there. Just acknowledge, accept, and adjust your harsh thinking.
N Need. How do you need them to change you? Yep. I am constantly learning from others. Discover how you need them. All your associations can fill a need. Even if it’s to challenge some character strengths and weaknesses in you. Sometimes I really need my children to try my patience so I can master a great character building moment. Sometimes I just need their sweet little personalities to endure the day. I need their humor, I need their hugs, I need their morning ray of sunshine; I need their nonstop chatter on a very long, boring, car ride. Each person you encounter can fill some need for you to become better.
A Month Challenge You Won’t Regret:
For all of your associations over the next 30 days (or until the end of summer) evaluate how each person in your path is your FAN (see tips stated above). Yes, ALL associations. See how it changes your heart and theirs. If you are annoyed, critical, or resentful of someone take a step back and ask how they are important to you. Use the acronym FAN to thoroughly evaluate them. You will realize what a gift these people are in your life. If your relationships are soaring, reevaluate the why by using the same FAN method and feel the gratitude of how we all work together to complete one another.
Enjoy the journey this month and I hope you see just how blessed you are. You are loved, you are needed, and you even flatter us more than you realize.
Just wanted to give a big shout out to my fans! You flatter me, you accept me, and I feel needed by your little words of encouragement. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m your biggest fan.
Share this post with your favorite fan & a little personal note. On some devices my share buttons are a little tricky to find. To access, click on the comment bubble to load up my share buttons and scroll to the top of the page. My share buttons are underneath my title. Click and share! And oh, have a fantastic day!