Weed or wildflower? #InternationalWomensDay

wild sweet pea

Being a working woman, I could be expected to be sitting here nicely coiffed, decently dressed and wearing make-up. Being also a writer, you might imagine me instead romantically dishevelled or pyjama clad. These are stereotypes we can all recognise that conform to an accepted idea.

In fact, I am neither and my attire is finished with a nasally inserted tissue. I grant you, it is not the most appealing of accessories. Even the dog raised a quizzical brow at the tissue currently protruding from my nose, but after two days of constant sneezing and nosebleeds, what it lacks in sartorial elegance, the tissue makes up for in practicality. I long since gave up trying to impress my dog with any pretence of elegance anyway…she, after all, sees me every morning before the coffee kicks in. The postman was a different matter and it was in the nick of time that the tissue was removed, even as I opened the door. Though to be fair, that was not about impressing anyone either.

My nose has always been a bit of a preoccupation and a bone of contention. It was an acceptably cute appendage for a child until my mother drove the car into a telegraph pole. In the days of front bench seats and no rear seat-belts, there was only one guaranteed outcome and the nose was never the same. Not that a nose ever does remain the same, time and gravity alter the appearance of nose and ears throughout our lives and while my ears, one of which was neatly reattached by a nifty surgeon in later years, remain of reasonable appearance, the same cannot be said of the nose.

It has developed a thing on the end that my doctor assures me is likely to remain as a permanent fixture. It is nothing much… a tiny pink pimple-type thing. Nothing a little makeup can’t handle, but it adds insult to injury, being dead centre of my most prominent and contentious feature.

The nose was the butt of every family joke as I was growing up and, while such affectionate teasing may hold no malice, to the tender sensibilities of the insecure teen it can be devastating. By the time I reached adulthood, I desperately wanted a nose job… not that I ever got one. I missed out on the one opportunity I had to have the thing tinkered with; before I was twenty, most of my face (and the aforementioned ear) was rearranged by a drunk driver. The nose, however, managed to escape unscathed. It is therefore a survivor and must be acknowledged to have a character of its own.

The worst thing of all is that the nose is not so bad. It never was, had I realised at the time. But over the years I grew into it. I accepted it as an integral part of my face and personality. It sort of suits me, just as the same nose suited my great-grandmother before me. It is, in fact, a family heirloom and one to which I am rather attached.

My only complaint about it these days…other than the eternal pimple-thing and an innate determination to remain doggedly unphotogenic… resides in its current intimacy with tissues and its utter refusal to ignore the aromas emanating from the dairy farm across the field. Were a remodelled nose to be offered to me today, I would refuse…though they could have at the pimple with pleasure.

And therein lies the rub. I spent half a lifetime worrying about that nose, silently traumatised by the laughing comments of my family. I even joined in…unconsciously permitting the continuing damage by perpetuating the family joke. The very real trauma of the rearranged face left its own scars, visible and invisible, but none as damaging as that laughter.

Decades were shadowed by self-consciousness. My self image was flawed and throughout my youth I saw myself as being short, fat and coarse-featured. Short is and always was correct. The rest was not, though the weight is now subject to change without warning. But not only had I permitted the continuation of the joke, I had by that time accepted it as truth and perpetuated it. It took a long time and many changes in my life before I could see the fallacy for what it was.

I have reached a point in my life where the years have written their story upon my face. It has a lived-in look that remembers youth while it relaxes contentedly into age. In many ways, I am younger now than I ever was, as I allow the child in me to revel in the world and play without the self-conscious constraints of youth. Yet there is still the niggle of the nose, lurking somewhere beyond rational thought, even now.

My nose, you see, was never created in a delicate image of feminine beauty, nor was it firmly chiselled with obvious determination. It did not conform to expectations or the accepted norm. To my family, the nose was just a joke.

In any other circumstances, such name-calling would be referred to as bullying. The constant repetition of any statement is a form of brainwashing and one that is used widely today to influence society. The effects are long-lasting and sit deep below the surface of the mind where logic alone cannot completely eradicate them. In a world where we are constantly bombarded by information, slogans and catch-phrases, we are in the same position as the child who hears the repetitive ‘joke’.  Unless we can stand back and exercise enough discernment to discard the false impositions of opinion, then like that child, we risk our own opinions being unconsciously shaped or even warped.

To share laughter with others is a joy. To laugh at others…or to feel ridiculed by them…is potentially devastating. I am far from alone in feeling the echoes of such unthinking laughter still nibbling at the skirting-boards of the mind sometimes and I wonder just how many of us would hold up our hands to similar experiences in childhood?

Whether it is a physical feature or an expectation of behaviour or achievement, the idea of not being ‘good enough’, of being ‘lesser’, is all too easy to plant in a mind… and once planted, can grow unchecked with the alacrity of a weed. Our children shape the future, and change begins with the smallest of things. I’d like to think we can plant the seeds of hope, tolerance and love for each other… and let them see themselves as a garden of wildflowers instead of weeds.

 

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com
This entry was posted in Humour, Photography, transformation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to Weed or wildflower? #InternationalWomensDay

  1. Olga says:

    I was drawn to your words and couldn’t stop reading. I totally agree that we can be immensely influenced by how we are treated and engaged in childhood/youth days. With me it was my weight after grade 3 (another story) and my uncommon first name (in a small non-multicultural community). I think I am a wild flower now, instead of a weed. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sue Vincent says:

      It takes very little to damage a child’s confidence and sow the seeds of fragility… yet a weed and a wildflower are the same flower after all. It is only how we choose to see them that changes ❤

      Liked by 3 people

  2. davidprosser says:

    You’re definitely a wildflower Sue. For the sake of your self esteem maybe you should save up for a nose job but, unless you are still being teased about it maybe something less drastic like checking to see if it’s possible, in view o continuing problems, you could have the nose broken and properly reset again. I’m not sure whether this is still a viable option now though.
    In your pictures, you always look fine.
    xxx Gigantic Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Susan Scott says:

    You have a certain attachment to your nose Sue – 🙂 But aside from that rather feeble ‘joke’ it is true that over the years we become unconsciously conditioned. Thank you for your thought provoking post – wildflowers are beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You, and your nose, survived that car accident, and that alone was cause for a new perspective. Wow. But I get it, when we are critical of part of our face, it’s hard to avoid. (Mine was heavy eyebrows). It all becomes part of our character, and the laughter…our survival instinct. I like to honor both the weed and the wildflower of our nature. Thanks, Sue.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is quite the strangest thing, Sue, but you and I seem to have written on a similar topic again this week. Lovely post which quite accurately reflects the harm to self confidence that can be done by ridicule and being made to feel as if your physical features are not quite good enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bernadette says:

    I will send some of my seeds to you to plant and you can send me some of yours and together we will change the world. Happy Women’s Day my friend across the sea.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Bun Karyudo says:

    I found this a very interesting post, Sue. Teasing of the kind you mentioned can be very hurtful, even decades later. It can reach in and rip all self-confidence right out from us. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  8. health4earth says:

    Being an advocate for planting wild flowers/native plants in our gardens, I love your comparison. Wishing you love, hope, tolerance and gratitude today and everyday.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mary Smith says:

    I overheard my mother say to her friend that I had ankles like a cart horse. As a child I was very fond of horses so it was only the pitying tone in her voice which made me realise she was not being complimentary.
    Happy International Women’s Day!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Widdershins says:

    No-one escaped their childhood unscathed … which, upon reflection is a rather sad indictment of our society.
    Mine was the ‘could do better’ I got in the comments section of every report card I got in primary school. No matter how hard I tried, there it was, every term. It took me years, decades, evolve strategies to quell that ‘voice’. I never quite succeeded in getting rid of it completely. These days when it comes up, I give that little girl a big hug and tell her she did do better. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      It is…except that learning to face and overcome such challenges may be an essential part of growing into ourselves.
      For myself, I can remind myself that great-granny’s nose lasted her a century 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Eliza Waters says:

    From what I see, it is a fine nose! As long as it functions to sniff the lovely scent of flowers and aides in the taste of delicious food, it is a good one. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My nose had one of those pink pimply things on it too. It was there for a few years, than one day, it got all bloated and began to bleed. I cleaned it up, after which it went away and never came back. So maybe there’s hope yet.

    I’m pretty sure no one has EVER admired my nose. Not even me. Not even Garry. It’s just … a nose.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Brilliant Sue.. As a ‘big girl’ all my life I have drawn comments all my life. Being nearly six foot by the time I was 14 and quite chunky it was not just comments but actions. Such as making me the hockey team goalie because I filled the net! Most terrifying thing I have ever done in my life is to face the horde with hockey sticks raised charging at me. Mind you I did stop a fair few and had the bruises to prove it. This should be read by every teenage girl who sees the Kardashians and other alleged ‘stars’ bearing their enhanced flesh and still seeking approval for what they consider to be the epitomy of a beautiful body. They little realise that trying to look identical to a fantasy is a waste of time.. it is our flaws that make us both individual and beautiful. Your nose by the way is stunning.. hope it stops sneezing soon… love to another example of beauty.. Ani. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Childhood teasing can leave a scar, I got quite a lot of stick from my siblings when I was younger too.
    I am glad that you and your nose have settled your differences and that you are firm friends. It does after all, tell its own story and that is priceless! xx

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. adeleulnais says:

    I hope that you are feeling better and that the smells of the dairy farm have lost their pungency. My nose is hardly there. My brother, apparently, when I was born said. “She hasn’t got a nose!” Thanks bro. My biology teacher, who was obsessed with genes, told us all one day why we had the noses we had and how it showed where our ancestors came from. Mine stems from my ancestors living amongst snow and ice. The nose being small helps breathing in those conditions. My ancestors were wise indeed but how they achieved the nose thing is all greek to me. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  17. You know, I’ve never really taken any notice of your nose, Sue. I’ll have to take a closer look next time I see you. That aside…
    Rarely has a truer word been spoken. I’m sure I’ve made lots of mistakes with my kids, but my intention has never been to undermine them in any way, always to encourage and support. We do all need to make that effort – but not just with children. A kind and positive word can help to offset some of those deep-rooted beliefs, and we need to take every opportunity to look for the good things in others.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. paulandruss says:

    What a brilliant post Sue- it is amazing how any hang-ups many of us have from childhood teasing…Like you my hang up was my nose. But for what it’s worth. I think your nose is pretty. Exactly right! I wonder if nose jobs and the like would ever satisfy us if if we had the money we’d end up like Michael Jackson always chasing some phantom of perfection?

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      The odd thing is that if I’d had the nose job, then followed it with the accident, I think the scars would have taken precedence. The damage to the self image had been done and would have found a focus somewhere.Waving a magic scalpel would not have allowed me to gro through it either.

      Like

  19. This post stands out as a fav among many favs you’ve posted here, Sue. The truth of this sentence sums up my reaction, “Unless we can stand back and exercise enough discernment to discard the false impositions of opinion, then like that child, we risk our own opinions being unconsciously shaped or even warped.”

    The brother closest to me in age warped my sense of self unknowingly when, in a letter to me in college, he was attempting to describe the horror of a recent blind date with these words, “and what’s worse, she looked just like you did in the 8th grade!” Who knew I was the epitome of ugliness in those years?

    Looking back at photos, I did look considerably older than my peers – but not bad at all. I grew into my face year by year, and was actually considered quite attractive in the theatre crowd with whom I spent most of my time over the years, frequently cast in roles reserved for beauties during my acting days.

    HOWEVER, for many years after that letter, I never went *anywhere* without warpaint carefully camouflaging imaginary flaws – convinced that if anyone ever saw me bare-faced they would recoil. These days I imagine the comments might be that make up might not be a bad idea, but I rarely bother anymore. Growing older has its benefits and comforts.

    Thanks to Sally for bringing this one to my attention. I would hate to have missed it. (and your nose looks great to me, btw)
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      It takes so few words to change a life…and yet equally, a few words well-placed can lift a life too. xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wrote a post some time back attempting to explain why negative comments are so impactful – what’s going on in the brain that the bad stuff sticks and the good stuff fades. [“Are we hard-wired to focus on the bad news?”]

        Bottom line: it seems our brains are “wired” to make sure we remember where we saw those sabre-toothed tigers so we don’t return to that spot and get eaten before we can reproduce. 🙂

        That old saw about sticks and stones, bones, and name-calling couldn’t be more wrong.
        xx,
        mgh

        Like

        • Sue Vincent says:

          It really is surprising when you start digging, just how much of the so-called primitive behaviour still defines how we live. We’ve just found new ways to react to new sabre-tooths. xxx

          Like

  20. jjspina says:

    It is sad when children have to endure ridicule so early in life. It definitely stays with us. I always hated my ears and one doctor made an unkind remark about them. It hurt but now I keep them covered. Also I had a mole on my nose that I used to try to pick off because kids used to make fun of it. I finally had it removed but still have a little bump. I can live with it. We are all different with some imperfections but in God’s image. We need to learn to love ourselves as we are and worry less about our appearance while we work more on the inside – being kind, unselfish, and caring. Blessings to you! You are beautiful! Repeat that every day! ❤️

    Like

  21. I actually like most weeds. I particularly like Scottish Thistles which grow fierce & strong, tall and unapologetically lilac or warm purple in colour.

    Like

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