Beneath the shell

I went to a Catholic school run by nuns who were passionate about what they believed. Our class had a majority of girls and one day when I was in second grade my teacher at the time, Sr. Margaret posed a fairly straightforward question.

‘Who,’ she asked, looking around the class with a smile, ‘would like to be a nun when they grow up?’

Serious as I was then, I considered the question carefully. I knew that Catholic nuns did not marry and I could not see myself without a family of my own.

I must’ve wondered how many others would be in the boat I was choosing to sail in – ‘cos I looked around hopefully. And to my utter dismay, I found that all the girls in my class had put up their hands eagerly and I was the only one who had not!

I had no wish to be the odd one out, so rather reluctantly I put my hand up and hoped Sr. Margaret would not catch me in the act of ‘lying’ as it seemed to me at the time.

Many years have passed since then, and class reunions track our individual journeys over time. As it turns out, just one girl from that class actually did become a nun. Most of the others got married and less than a handful chose to remain single.

When I look back on this incident I am impressed that I knew my own mind so clearly even back then. I was absolutely clear about what I wanted, even though I did not have the confidence to stand by my beliefs. I cannot say that my parents had the most ideal relationship either, so it was not as if I was reaching for something tangible that I could easily emulate.

I was certain at the time that I wanted the cosiness of my own little nest, even though I had not worked out the details. More than the actual ‘lie’ I felt guilty about that day, I was probably far more guilty of short-changing myself by buying into the opinions of others. This unfortunate trait of caring how others perceive me dogged me for a lot of my adult life, until I finally began to see the light many years later.

I now realise that it’s none of my business to worry about what anyone thinks of me. They have a right to their opinion and I do too. And if I have to choose one opinion over the other, I choose mine;)

I see no point holding myself in bondage over the opinions of those who cannot or may never be able to understand me. That in itself is truly liberating!  And now that I’ve discovered this little nugget, ‘the world is my oyster’!

© 2018  G.A.I.L


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