Mismatched Mess

of life, love, fashion, & forgetting to update


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Learning From Children | Underlying Issues of the Innocent

Pre-Teen Girls During 'Tablecloth' Fashion Show

Taylor and I have been working with a small church’s children’s group for the past year. Ages range from sometimes 3 all the way to 12. In one room. Yeah.

But, most of them, thankfully, are within the 9-12 range which helps us find age appropriate lessons and activities.

Because of this job (it is Taylor’s job, but I volunteer), I’ve had a lot of time to observe young girls. I’ve learned their behaviors, cliques,  gossip habits and insecurities.

I’ve learned that one girl goes out of her way to look less poor to her friends. One 12 year old is extremely self-conscious about her teeth; another about her stomach. An 11 year old plays dumb, a 7 year old is so scared to talk she’ll sometimes start sentences excitedly and then immediately stop, almost cowering.

Another pre-teen was molested  as a child and desperately seeks that same level of attention with older boys.

Most of them come from poor, drug-filled households where it’s likely that–if one of their parents isn’t either out of the picture or in jail–they just got out of jail. Which isn’t to say the adults take ALL the blame–this is, after all, the life they grew up in. How does one end this cycle?

Unfortunately, I don’t exactly know how to answer that. I don’t know how to answer many questions regarding the serious issues these young girls face. It’s constantly forcing me to realign my perspective when I ask myself after an exhausting and frustrating children’s session, “Why do they act the way they do?!?!”

Well, Alyssa, why?

Why do they feel the need to prove they aren’t poor? Why do they choose to gang up on another to bully them? Why do they seek men’s attention and approval?

Every week is like a concentrated slap in the face showing me the deep rooted fears and expectations that society has placed on all women.

What these girls are learning from their mothers, they will teach their own children. Of course, I don’t hope for that. I do see a small societal shift in women’s behaviors and I can hope that these girls, specifically, choose to better their lives as they grow up and break a generational cycle of poverty, drugs and heartache.

I have really struggled with all the layers of issues these girls* have made me fully aware of. I think the easiest, yet also most intricate, issues to deal with are the ones directly related to all women. From media to our own mothers and grandmothers, we are given so much “advice” about behavior, appearances and the like that our minds have contorted around some of the most messed up ideas that truly have become part of our ‘norm.’ Like many other newly enlightened women, I’m searching for the balance between losing the chains of societal expectations and still feeling like I understand the strong and beautiful reasons behind what it means to be female.

I’m going to try to voice my thoughts in future posts on the subject of being a woman, as well as all the other major issues mentioned in this post as I rethink my own views and also combat the views these young pre-teen girls already think to be true.

Advice, opinions, help would be oh so appreciated.


 

*Not to say the boys of the group have no issues. We only have 1-4 boys come, sometimes 0. Perhaps there are no boys in the area, or perhaps boys not feeling connected to church and/or groups of peers is an entirely different issue to be discussed. Taylor does a lot for the boys as well as the younger children (As well as the preteens. He’s awesome). My heart has been set on these pre-teen girls from the beginning. Clarification over.

 


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Three Years

3 Years

I celebrate three years with my husband today.

He challenges me to do the things I once loved and have lost.

He challenges me to open my mind to new ways of thinking.

He challenges my understanding of God.

He challenges me to read. To write. To engage.

He challenges me to allow people in my life.

All my weaknesses, worries, doubts and fears–he shows me are all ok, but shouldn’t define me.

I’m learning to let go of insecurities; be vulnerable to new experiences.

I’m learning that it’s better to be a bit embarrassed or rejected than to let my thoughts and feelings fester unheard.

I celebrate three years with an awesome guy.

The older I get, the more I realize how young I am.

There is so much more to learn.

 

 


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Adult-Sized Lessons

What happens when you suddenly feel inspired to write again? Apologize to yourself for being away for so long? Dive right in? 

A few weeks ago the inspiration struck, but I felt like I had given up long ago and there was nothing left to it. 

Oh well. I guess I give up on giving up. Here I am, and with a purpose. 

I’ve been learning a lot about myself lately. I always felt fairly self-aware. Being an introvert most my life, I always had time to reflect. I was aware of the world around me and tried to use that to my advantage. Truly, it caused less heartache, less ‘politically incorrect’ moments, and less guilt. Less, however, is key here. I still had many ups and downs growing up and tried to learn from each of them. As a child these ‘downers’ caused me to be more aware of adults and less self-oriented. As a teenager I learned to accept myself, but only after some rejection. 

As an adult…it seems like everyday is a new lesson. I’m constantly challenging my understanding and beliefs. 

Last year I went through a difficult time in my life full of stress and struggle. Some good came of it, including getting SUPER into blogging and photography, which I enjoyed, but it was almost like a cover-up. However in my everyday life, a lot of bad came of it, too. I almost totally folded in on myself. I was more quiet than usual, more reserved and let almost no one in. I was struggling just to get through every day because I did not like what I was doing. This also caused me to lose the awareness I thought I had about the world. A friend was going through a difficult time in their own life and even reached out to me, indirectly, at least once, and I let them down. I didn’t realize they may have needed me and gave every reason and assumption I had to stay out of it. I thought they didn’t trust me and I didn’t know if I could trust them. But in reality I ended up hurting them more and eventually losing them. 

That brings me back to all these adult-sized lessons I’ve been learning. About a year or so and a lost friend later, I’ve healed from the stress, healed from the lost friend and moved forward in many positive ways. I’ve taken time to address my insecurities and learned to trust women more than I had ever allowed before. We’re actually all pretty supportive, in general, and just want acceptance and not feeling like we’re being judged all the time. As I gained confidence in people again, I realized how crappy I was to just allow a close friendship to fall away because of misunderstandings and hurt feelings. I felt the strongest desire to apologize. And they accepted. They also explained how all my assumptions about them not needing me were completely wrong, which hit me so hard. I was too wrapped up in my own hurt to notice the full extent of theirs. 

Time will tell if they allow me back in their life. I hope so, but I realize the lack of awareness I showed in the past caused a lot of grief. I’m glad to know they’ve allowed us to bring up the truth, and I’m satisfied in letting that take whatever course it should.