Dear Benchmark Girl,
I heard about a group of kids the other day that labelled themselves the “no-bodies.” They went on to classify, the popular kids, the geeks and the nerds. (To be clear, geeks are into building stuff, while nerds are more bookish.) Apparently, this group was fine with the label and even felt a proud sense of belonging with it, so they reassured the teacher to not feel sorry for them, etc.
Regardless, I can not stop thinking about how this label – however rarely used or referred to – negatively impacts the members of this group. Maybe part of the reason this story hit me so hard is because, the truth is, I probably was a member of this group when I was in junior high/high school.
In spite of the fact that I was a cheerleader and in swing choir (Just realized I was totally GLEE back then!), I definitely was not in the “popular” crowd. My marginal acceptance was probably due mostly to the cheerleader component. I also made good grades, and was likely considered smart by my peers – but it wasn’t something I hung my hat on. In junior high, I had a close group of friends but we didn’t have one singular common interest or hobby (sports, music, books, religion… none of that). We really didn’t have any major external bond, except that we stuck together.
After junior high, I attended two different high schools, and for the most part I experienced the same story in a different context. I deeply treasure the friends that I was close to during each period of my life but, partly because of moving from place to place, I was always under the cloud of not QUITE fitting in, no matter where I was.
In retrospect, (pay attention, this is the point I am trying to make) …I think I would have felt more confident and understood my “fit” better if I HAD stuck out like a sore thumb. I continually tried to be JUST ENOUGH like those around me to hang onto the fringes of whatever they were “into” or “good at” or “known for,” when I should have instead spent that time truly and passionately pursing the things that really inspired me.
Don’t get me wrong, I was a “joiner” for sure. I was in choir, show choir, drama, youth group, I even joined the cross country team during my senior year of high school. I sincerely enjoyed all of these activities and believe that they laid a foundation for what activities I pursued in college, and who I am today in many ways. The point remains though – that in spite of enjoying these things – I was always too apprehensive (in addition I lacked the personal drive/discipline), to “go for the gold” or really throw myself fully into any one thing that I enjoyed for fear that I wouldn’t have friends that would be interested in it, or it would take too much time and I would miss out on something everyone else was doing.
I look back and consider what I did “dabbling.” In spite of some minor success in music and drama throughout my teenage years, I never really pushed myself to pursue any of these endeavors with the complete potential within me.
The truth is we are all unique with special skills, talents, passions and gifts, and in a sense we are all DESIGNED to stick out … not blend in.
I know as a tween/teen this can be SUPER hard/intimidating/anxiety inducing…but that’s what I am here for!
I am here to encourage you. Be a cheerleader. To show you the vision for what can happen on the other side of fear. To help you find the awesomeness inside you that is ready to be let loose! To help you become the BEST version of yourself.
Check out Benchmark Girls Only Groups here if you are ready to work with me and reap the benefits! Let me know if you have questions by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime…
Pursue with wreck-less abandon that which intrigues you. Learn about it, experience it and use it to make the world a better place, letting the only fear that motivates you be the fear of fitting in too much.
The Original Benchmark Girl