“Must be nice.” Words that used to cripple me.
My parents were and are really hard workers (My mom was born in Mexico and migrated to the US, my dad was born in Texas and grew up working on farms,) and they opened their own business in 1982-- and the fact that they were business owners was enough to get people to bully me as a young girl.
Must be nice to have it so good. Must be nice to have it so easy. Must be nice to not have to work so hard. Must be nice to be teacher’s pet.
And the ultimate dread was that they would say these things to me in Spanish. I’d get steamrolled verbally and I couldn’t keep up or respond and I’d just have to walk away with my tail between my legs.
After enough bullying I subconsciously I started to defend my life.
Every time I would encounter a blessing, or something fun and simple like a new outfit, I’d book end it with 9-year-old versions of “But I also encounter struggle.” I’d go off explaining how I too suffer. How life is hard for me from time to time. How I don’t have it all. How I hurt. How my life wasn’t perfect. I’d laugh it off and sometimes throw in some self-deprecating humor – anything to convince my classmates I was worthy of belonging.
The truth of my childhood was that I was blessed.
I had amazing parents who loved me well and kept me safe. I always had food and clean clothes and never wanted for anything. I had birthday parties and Halloween costumes and complete emotional support. I did have nicer things than some of my friends, but not the nicest. My mom drove a blue Toyota Corolla, a grey Astro van and then a maroon Ford Tarus station wagon because if would fit the snare drum that I toted to school every day.
I never felt entitled. I always felt grateful and more than that, a responsibility. A responsibility to do the best with what my parents had worked so hard to give me.
So I did. I worked hard. (I wrote about how my parents gave me the gift of grit here.) I was a good student. I tried my hand and did well at UIL writing, marching band, jazz band, golf – and all sorts of other extracurricular activities.
What I wanted more than anything back then, was for someone to acknowledge my hard work. I wanted my peers to see how much I tried – how much I was earning what I was receiving.
I wanted to be able to be blessed, work hard and also belong.
I started working for and with my parents when I was 8. And every holiday, and summer vacation – while my friends were watching tv and going to the mall, I was working with my parents. I put in a lot of hours. My duties were simple, but I was working. And by the time I was 14, every summer, I was working full-time as a cashier.
I was blessed, I did have it nice, AND I stewarded both well.
What would give me knots and throw me into a shame spiral was when people dismissed my hard work.
And so I learned to sandwich every blessing with difficulty. And over the years it became part of who I was.
Has that ever happened to you? A bad habit just become part of who you are?
I would dim my light and hide my joy because if I was truly standing in all of who I was, I was a target for ridicule.
As I became a wife and mom and continued my path of healing and self-discovery, I started to be curious about this part of myself. The part that wanted everyone to know that I worked hard, that I was deserving, that I was worthy.
It’s still a tender spot for me.
I still guard that part of my heart close.
But I have started to shed the layers of shame around “it being nice.”
I am a good person, who takes good care of friends and family and everyone in my world. I am grateful and generous with my time and thoughts and effort. Most of this is not public – and yet I know that I have made a difference in lives of many people for the better. And I do it from a place of sincerity. I want to make the world a better place and I do what I can where I can.
It can be hard to share blessings with the world because you’re always putting yourself out there for others to comment, “must be nice,” with an undertone of dismissal.
I am 35 now and learning that it is a disservice to my joy and my life and the lives of those around me if I am constantly tampering down all that I’ve received – whether it be by blessing, fortune, luck, or hard work.
Even right now, my old habits are creeping up and I want to tell you how much I have struggled.
“Everyone lives three lives, public, private and secret.” - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I want to share with you why I deserve all the goodness in my life. I want to tell you that I am grateful for it. That I treat people well. That I deserve it.
But I’ll stop myself.
I’ll stop myself because I want you to know that you deserve ALL the goodness the Universe and God can send your way with having to defend it.
What would our lives look like and feel like if we accepted all that goodness with grateful heart, enjoyed it and were good stewards of it? Can we begin to lean into that?
May you know you are worthy of a peaceful life.
May you know that you can experience goodness in its fullness without defending yourself.
May you know that you are deserving.
May you know that you have nothing to prove.
May you know that when you rise to the occasion that is your life, it gives us permission to the same.
May you know that more you share the goodness in your life, the more you will receive.
May you know that you belong not despite anything, but because you are.
Feature Image: Abel Riojas Photography
I'm Catia, a woman, wife, mama, sister, sister friend, you know -- I wear a million hats just like you.
One of my biggest whys is that I want people to feel good about ALL of who they are. Including you.
If I could choose ten words that best describe me I would say: honest, welcoming, giving, curious, loving, earnest, empathetic, spiritual, playful, and sassy. Let's add: adventurous. That's 11.
Nice to meet you!