I sometimes have a scowl on my face for no reason … real surly looking. And nine times out of 10 when that happens, I’m either happy, content or both, but never truly mad. I can blame it on my multiple concussions, which might be part of it, but honestly, I think it’s because I have a chip on my shoulder.
Ever since I was little (well, as little as a 10-pound, 6-ounce newborn can be) I’ve been trying to prove people wrong about me. I’m too slow to be a good baseball player. Proved them wrong on that. I’m just a big, dumb guy. My two degrees say otherwise. There are countless other examples that I won’t go into, but from Day One I’ve been trying to prove everyone wrong.
But in moments of reflection lately, I’ve come to realize that there wasn’t anyone else putting that chip on my shoulder but me.
I’ve always felt the perceived pressure of society, but truly I was punishing myself because I wasn’t living up to some standard I didn’t help set, but for some reason enforce. I painted myself into the bitter fat guy box. Sure, there have been name-callings and bullies who got the best of me over the years, but the only constant in all of the stories is me.
I’m out to change that. Why now you ask? I’ve caught it affecting the way I parent. When I tell my girls not to worry about what others think, or to ignore comments, knowing I’d internalize whatever they’re dealing with if I were them, it’s unfair to them.
I pledge now to be a better listener to my girls, including my lovely wife, and help them through any issues they have. I try to do that now — we all do —but I want to take it to the next level so they know how to work through their feelings and not bottle them up. I’ll attempt to do this while remembering they are just kids (well not my wife, but she is a kid at heart!). Kids today are so smart and quick-witted that you sometimes forget they’re just kids.
While I’m throwing out pledges, I’m going to toss out another one: I pledge to work on that whole fat guy thing. It’s been a struggle, but maybe getting rid of this chip will lead to weight coming off more than my shoulders. I’ll keep you guys posted.
– Jim Pesta is a Parenting Program participant and father of two girls.