As a teenager full of insecurities, I lived feeling that I had to reach certain standards in order to be accepted, lovable and loved by the people around me. The hair or my clothes should have looked in a certain way and the friends with whom I appeared in public should have been popular enough in order for me to be seen and perceived to be desirable, acceptable, valuable, lovable.
One thing in particular frustrated me. My name.
I had a strong belief that if my name was not so common, I would have been happier. I had no wisdom in order to dive deeper into this idea and see if it is true. I never actually verbalized this belief or talk to anyone, as I learned that people do not speak about this kind of stuff, about how you feel inside. Pretending that you are ok was the only way.
So I truly believed that with a more unique name, I would have had more visibility, I would have been considered more interesting and my life would have been more fulfilling. Being seen and appreciated was like a validation that I was ok, otherwise I was not. I felt that my common name has stolen me the possibility to be happy, therefore I had to overcompensate by doing or being more in other aspects of life. I also disliked the common names of my parents and grandparents. In time, I tended to judge people based on the uniqueness or commonness of their name. From the start, people with more exotic names were more interesting and valuable to me, although I knew absolutely nothing about them.
I am going to meet now the teenager Cristina who was taking walks in her city, dressing in order to be seen, hoping to be seen, as this would have been the confirmation that she is adequate. I will meet her, smile and then take her by the hand. We will go together and sit on a bench.
I can feel you and I see that you are tensed and that you want so much to be seen by the people around you, to feel appreciated by them. You are unsure if you are worthy to be loved, if you are lovable and you seek the answer to this question outside, in how the people react when they see you.
I’ll tell you something: most of the teenagers around you have insecurities, they feel they do not look good enough or that they are not good enough. They too look for validation outside of themselves. It is very unlikely to hear them say this, as they might feel ashamed to do so, considering that this is a weakness and weakness is not acceptable.
But every feeling is human and acceptable. It is ok to feel insecure.
Cristina, you might think that your value and worth are attached to something like your grades in school, the clothes that you wear, the jobs of your parents, who you spend time with or what people say about you.
But my dear, you have always been 100% worthy. And you will always be, no matter what.
You are worthy no matter what you name is, or the name of your parents or grandparents. You are ok just the way you are.
Next time you are going to doubt yourself, remember my words.”
The teenager Cristina is somehow confused, as nobody has ever told her that she, a human being, is enough just the way she is.
And I am going to leave her with all those new ideas, to think about them and then find the answers she is looking for.