It’s probably difficult to believe if you’ve seen the fabulous, present day me, but I used to be an ugly duckling. As a child I struggled with weight, had an enforced by external forces (=my mother) short hair and remained flat chested for a long time. In other words I was probably a below average looking child and a one with weird interests too (like books, ugh, weirdo). It was a recipe for mockery from parents and children. Most importantly boys didn’t pay attention to me (not that I was actually too interested at that time, anyway) and in a country like Poland not having a boyfriend meant that there was something wrong with you. Eventually I started to believe there was and the mentality stayed with me for a long time.
It’s funny how the early life influences stay with us even if the reality has changed. After my hair and boobs grew and I lost weight my self-esteem didn’t change at all. I could have looked quite attractive but I still felt like an overweight child. In the fairy tale about the ugly duckling when it realizes that it’s a swan, it immediately assumes its identity. Humans don’t work like this, unfortunately. You see a swan, people tell you you’re a swan, but inside you still are very insecure and feel like impostor.
As a better looking individual you discover make-up and you get your first boyfriend – you feel like a queen of the world. The girls that used to be mean to you are nicer as well and maybe you even become one of them (if your parents are mean you’ll probably never be good enough to them, though). Unfortunately, the world you could be a part of doesn’t really interest you. You keep doing things to fit in but you should rather use your uniqueness to your advantage. This is what I think it means to truly become a swan. Not to you manage to fit in and be like all the others but when you choose your own way of being.
We tend to pay so much attention to whatever people thought of us in the teenage years. The thing is when we are happily married 20 years later no one but us will remember that we went to the prom on our own or that we used to be called this nickname or the other. It is important not to let our past shape our future but we don’t all manage to escape the conditioning.
What happens with ugly ducklings in adult lives then? Many sort themselves out. They meet people of their liking with similar interests or they find a passion in life and eventually build confidence in themselves and trust in life. Others don’t want to admit that they have a problem and they keep dwelling on bad experiences. They don’t consider themselves to be “bad enough” to look for help and they live trying to please the crowds. Inside they remain with the feeling of unworthiness and in dating life even though they won’t admit it to themselves they’ll do anything for a man. You probably know them from your life. Beautiful, active, professionally fulfilled women who keep dating guys who’re often their opposites (neglected broke asses, who treat them badly). People ask themselves “why” but they feel that it’s all they deserve and that they have to suffer and sacrifice themselves to be loved.
Life ain’t a fairytale and some ugly ducklings never truly turn into swans. When they do, however, they can look at everyone who has ever contributed to them feeling inferior and see the people who they are today and whose time spent on mocking others still seem to be their main life enjoyment.
Now your turn, Dear Reader. Were you an ugly duckling or the popular one? How did your role in childhood affect your future and your dating life?