Are you proud of me yet?

Originally appeared online in the teen series: Trending - February 26, 2019

Being the oldest of seven children had its advantages. I was the first to try many new things, and spent extra hours doing grown-up things with creative grandparents while new babies were being cared for. But it also had its downsides. As more brothers and sisters came into the family, I felt overlooked, even forgotten. 

My parents expressed their love for me in wonderful ways, yet somehow, it still didn’t seem like enough. I kept making attempts to get their attention and desperately longed for them to tell me that they were proud of me. But even when they reveled in my achievements, there still seemed to be a hole I was trying to fill that had to do with who I was, how I fit in, and whether I was good enough. 

I did all kinds of things to turn attention toward me. I got superior grades, excelled in several sports, played musical instruments with perfection, and tried to appear super responsible and deserving of praise. And yet, when I did get praise, it never seemed like enough, and in spite of my achievements, I wasn’t really happy. I felt exhausted from trying so hard and frustrated that I could never fill that hole. I knew something needed to change. 

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