I recently heard the phrase, “It doesn’t matter what people call you. What matters is what you choose to answer to.” Those words started me reflecting on my life and the negative names that people have called me over the years that shaped my personality. In elementary school I was the teacher’s pet. Strangely, I wasn’t the least bit offended by that, because it was true…and I was darn proud of it!

In junior high school my mom was over protective. She wouldn’t let me do anything, so my friends called me stuck up, snooty, square, and scared of my mom. I found the first three descriptions a bit offensive, because they weren’t true, but I was incredibly afraid of my mom!

High school and college were happy times and I can’t remember being called any names! Those were the best years of my life! I married while in my second year of graduate school. Many names were hurled during that five-year tumultuous union! Sadly, I actually believed that some of them were true. I allowed myself to accept the notion that I was stupid, boring, and a bad mother. I sank into a depression that I ate my way out of only to create a new name…fat. To me that was the worse one of them all, because of how fat people are treated in America. But I’ve learned that size is only one dimension of me. There is so much more depth to my character and worth as a person than how I look.

I found a poem by family therapist Virginia Satir that summarizes the scope of my dimensions:

I Am Me

I am me
In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me
Everything that comes out of me is authentically me
Because I alone chose it – I own everything about me
My body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions,
Whether they be to others or to myself – I own my fantasies,
My dreams, my hopes, my fears – I own all my triumphs and
Successes, all my failures and mistakes Because I own all of
Me, I can become intimately acquainted with me – by so doing
I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts – I know
There are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other
Aspects that I do not know – but as long as I am
Friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously
And hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles
And for ways to find out more about me – However I
Look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever
I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically
Me – If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought
And felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is
Unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that
Which I discarded – I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do
I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be
Productive to make sense and order out of the world of
People and things outside of me – I own me, and
therefore I can engineer me – I am me and
I AM OKAY