Tuesday 13 October 2009

Ugly ducklings just need bigger ponds

It is my belief, and I may be mistaken, that every one of us an inner ugly duckling! A little part of ourselves that doesn't feel as good as everyone else, as capable or as competent as those around us.

I grew up with four brothers. It was a very male house - not that I was aware of that when I was growing up. I just never felt really at ease. It may be a stereotype, but my brothers were much more into fighting each other, cars, soccer, football, rugby, and just about any other sport you care to mention.

The way they spoke was different as well: they were very sharp and often very witty, but the comments sometimes felt like barbed wire. Mistakes were treated with mockery and derision. And they were critical thinkers - I was in my mid-twenties before I felt capable of thinking sharply enough to have an argument with them.

None of this was malicious, it was just a different vibe, more cut and thrust than soft and nurturing.

Indeed, I only recognised what it meant to be a female when I was eighteen and arrived in Italy on an exchange, Lisa. Her house was dominated by women. I remember the first night the extended family had dinner together; I suddenly felt a completely different way of being and understood why I felt I didn't fit in at home!

I finally saw that the reason I felt different, ugly, incapable and out of sync was because I wasn't in my natural environment. My lake wasn't big enough! There was nothing wrong with me, I just had too small a frame of reference!

As my dear friend Roger pointed out, that experience is probably true for us all: the parts of ourselves that seem odd and out of sync may not be character flaws, they are probably parts that thrive beyond the environment we currently inhabit. There are others who will really get our 'Ugly Duck parts' and see how swan-like we really are! So don't give up, it's just a question of finding the right lake where that part of us can thrive.

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