To a certain extent we are all spectators in other people’s lives. We all pass judgments on the faults and admirable traits of others. It is not as easy to do this on yourself. Looking in the mirror of self reflection I can see my faults and strengths etched into my facial expressions, ironed onto my clothes and seeped into the pores of my skin. I believe it is your most intense qualities, whether positive or negative, that define who you are as a person. My most unfavorable quality has been prevalent since childhood. On the first day of Kindergarten as my mother was braiding my hair she turned to me and said “Do not care what others think of you, the only thing that matters is what you think about yourself.” Looking back on this piece of advice, I find it amazing that even at the tender of age five my mother knew me so well. She had read the very strengths and weaknesses that I have only now, begun to accept. As a five year old, wearing my Pocahontas backpack, I pocketed this advice from my mother, and have been holding it in my hand ever since.

My most unfavorable quality is self consciousness. I have always cared a lot about what other people think. I have always been scared of standing out in a crowd yet have never wanted to feel insignificant in the masses. I was never the girl who laughed the loudest, or the girl who could break free of her inhibitions completely. The words “I don’t care” rarely spewed from my mouth. Because I did care. I would think cautiously of the reactions and judgments that other people would have to my actions. When I looked in the mirror I would try to see myself not through my own eyes but the eyes of other people. I would place a lot of emphasis on what other people thought of me and at times it overshadowed what I thought about myself. This quality has at times caused me unnecessary stress and sometimes even sadness, yet I would not trade this trait in for anything in the world. For this quality has defined who I am as a person. It has inadvertently caused me to be observant, insightful and empathetic. Through years of studying other people’s reactions I’ve learned to read people very easily. I can see through the facade and the gilded expressions to what is really underneath. Perhaps it is because I have spent many years myself hiding behind my own self consciousness that I can see so easily through theirs. When someone falls I do not look at the crowd of laughing faces but immediately look at the person on the ground, I look at the expression in their eyes, because I know what they are feeling, I can recognize the vulnerability of being judged. The deep sense of awareness that I posses on what other people think of me has caused me to identify easily with other people. I can see myself in the nervous, new girl at school. I can recognize the essence of myself in the person who is getting made fun of. I know these people, because I was these people, because I am these people.

If someone asked me today whether I am still like that five year old girl with the Pocahontas backpack I would smile and say yes and no. Throughout the years I have grown less concerned about what other people think. Now I am not afraid to speak out in a crowd or dress in a different way, I have gained a stronger voice through my writing and have grown pregnant with self confidence. Yet it would be a lie to say that I do not posses a great amount of self consciousness to date, because I do and perhaps I always will. But each day I fight to be the person my mother knew I could become, to be the person I know I can become. There are still sometimes I feel like that nervous, five year old girl because I always carry her around with me and I will always hold in my hand the advice she received on that memorable first day of school.

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