Saturday, 7 February 2015

This is me

Many people think of me as a dark, mysterious being that gives the impression she hates life but let me tell you: the title of this post came about because I was jamming to the epic Camp Rock tune in my room earlier on.Yes, I like Camp Rock songs. Yes, you have my permission to judge.

Many people also believe I like to keep to myself and open up to few. Were it not for the numerous blog posts I have published dealing with very personal issues of my past I would say those people are accurate in their beliefs. I promise though, there are valid explanations behind my attitude/behaviour and those of you that have I have opened up to will understand that.

For those of you that haven’t had the privilege of venturing beyond my walls, now is your chance to delve just a little deeper into the present mind of Olivia Dawson. You must be humbled.

Between the age of 13 and 16 I had very low self-esteem, very little self-belief and little or no confidence in myself (apart from when I was on the pitch). I struggled with the social aspect of school because of this. In an attempt to "fit in," I found myself morphing into a person I believed would be admired by others, even if that person was just a character I had created to fit the show that was my early teenage life.

Though it may sound hard to believe, popularity was never something I craved, mainly because the ‘popular’ people in my town were dicks and I most certainly didn’t want to be known as a dick. Ironically I became known as far worse, but that’s a story I’ve probably already written about. Basically, I wanted people to think of me as the cool, laidback girl that was really good at sports and liked Paramore. And that’s exactly who I was until 3rd year.

To think that I went from that broken, shell of a girl to the person I am now is pretty incredible, not to blow my own trumpet or anything. By the time I reached the end of Transition Year I was in the I-don’t-give-a-flying-fuck-what-you-think mind frame and there was no going back from there. What really helped my self-esteem issues was parting ways with the year group I had been with from 1st to 3rd year. Starting 5th year with a group of girls that knew (more or less) nothing about me was so refreshing and uplifting. Also, I was free from most of the teachers that had seen me at my worst so I felt like I was turning over a new leaf in all aspects of my school life.

One thing that changed my whole perception of myself was starting this blog at the beginning of 5th year. I had always kept my thoughts and my writings to myself but the blog allowed me to truly express how I felt with my own words; not the gossiping words of other people. Not only did putting my thoughts online for anyone to view help me to grow in confidence, so too did the amount of encouraging feedback I received from my peers at school. All of whom were part of my new year group, might I add.

I slowly began to walk through the corridors with my head held high again, taking little heed of the people that disliked me and focusing more on the smiles I got from the ones that now respected me. In my spare time I helped to train an u.14 girls team with my local soccer club and many of those girls were also students in my school. After a few weeks of training them and getting to know them, I started to notice younger girls in the school staring at me in the halls and whispering as I walked past. At first the self-conscious me began fretting that they knew something about me or they that thought I was a freak (which I kind of was, to be fair).

It was only when I overheard some girls talking in the bathrooms one day that I realised I was wrong. They must’ve only been in first year but I heard one of them say to her friend, “Is that the girl that plays with Ireland?” The other one answered, in a flatteringly excited tone, “Yeah. She trains me up at Celtic!” All I could do was smile.

From then on I started to walk with a tinge of arrogance in my step, knowing that some of the younger students looked up to me, sort of. I had never felt like that in my previous five years of school so I was rather enjoying it. I mean, who wouldn’t? This was the new generation of teenyboppers in the school and they knew who I was. I had a presence that they noticed. I felt like Queen B herself.

However, I never let that show. If you passed me in the corridor you would think I was having the worst day of my life. I was always frowning with a serious expression on my face. Even my friends said they were once scared of me! For those of you that remember that look on my face let me tell you, it was all an act. I made myself look scary and intimidating on purpose. I did that so people would know better than to cross me again; that I was no longer in a position where I had no choice but to put up with people’s shit.

And it worked. Numerous girls that I became friendly with in the year group told me that at first they had been afraid to sit next to me or to even talk to me. Now most people would hate for others to think of them in such a way, but not me. I loved it. One of the girls told me that her friends said I “look angry all the time” and that she can’t convince them that I’m actually quite a nice person. I’m not going to lie - hearing that made me grin like a Cheshire cat. How sadistic of me.

I went back to work after I finished my Leaving Cert last summer and one day found myself talking to a girl about our Pres days. She suddenly remembered something her younger sister, who was in either 2nd or 3rd year in the Pres had said to her a few weeks prior. She told me that her sister asked her one day, “Do you work with Olivia Dawson?” When she replied yes her sister exclaimed, “Oh my God, she’s so cool! All of my friends are afraid of her in school. She’s such a bad-ass.” I couldn’t help but wonder how they would know of my bad-assness. They weren’t even in the school when I was in my prime pretending to faint on April Fools’ Day or when I drank vodka at lunchtime in 3rd year. See? Bad-ass.

What led me to writing this post was another story my sister told me this evening. She said that during the week at school a girl in her class came up to her and asked her was she friends with me outside of school. Elena replied, “Umm, she’s my sister?” to which the girl proclaimed, “No way! I’ve always thought she was so cool. She’s the girl I always saw with the guitar and thought was really cool. I saw her walking through town with your mom one day and I wanted to say hi but I thought she wouldn’t know who I was, so I didn’t.” Once again, the tinge of arrogance returned to my step.

It’s easy to think you’re worthless and invisible in a world where the amount of ‘likes’ you get on a Facebook status define your social status, but it’s also just as easy to look at the small things that can make you feel great in a big way. That’s my secret. That’s exactly what I did. Yes, I may have grown up and matured a little after a transition year filled with doing nothing, but ultimately my confidence came from the positive energy I felt from others. Positive energy from total strangers made me feel like I could achieve anything and it still does. Every few months I’ll get an anonymous comment on my blog saying how much someone likes my style of writing or how great the blog is, and it’s these comments more than anything that keep my self-esteem on track.

I don’t need a hundred ‘likes’ or a thousand page views to make me confident in myself. I don’t rely on social media popularity to verify that people like or respect me. It’s easy to click a button on a computer screen to show your support but sometimes that can be misleading. So if you think I share these posts on social media platforms to get my “fix” you’re sadly mistaken. My highs come from spoken words, direct messages, blog comments and most of all, people who tell me I have inspired or enlightened them in some way. Even if it’s in the tiniest of ways.

That’s just me. This is how I’ve developed as a person. This is how I maintain my levels of self-esteem and this is how I have become the confident person I am today. I don’t keep to myself because I lack the confidence to do otherwise; I keep to myself because I am confident enough in my choices to know that I don’t need the whole world to think I’m an amazing person. So if I have ever offended you in any way by not making polite conversation or small talk, don’t take it personally. This is me.

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