Getting Out of the Shadows

As of recently I realized that I was sick of feeling like I was constantly in the shadow of the people I loved. They were all finding success doing their own thing, and I was stuck a few steps behind watching them flourish. I found myself doing activities not because I enjoyed them, but rather because my friends enjoyed them. I figured, “hey, if so-and-so is having fun doing this, then there’s no reason why I won’t have fun too.” It was a simple thought process; I was positive it couldn’t fail me. I mean my friends and I are similar people, that’s what makes us friends. So it should make sense that similar people are good at similar things, right?


I gave every activity a (non successful) shot, but the last straw was the track team. I walked into the first practice feeling good about myself, I mean how hard could running be… *cough* hard *cough*. But it wasn’t even the running that made me leave a week later. The running I could deal with. I don’t mind when things are hard, it was the fact that when I looked around everyone was smiling and laughing and cracking jokes. Yet, I wasn’t having any fun at all. Don’t get me wrong the people were super nice, it’s just I wasn’t enjoying myself the way everyone else was. In fact I was having an awful time. The clock was moving so slow I could’ve swore we were traveling backwards. That’s when it kind of hit me. Just because this is my friends “thing”, doesn’t mean it’s going to be mine. I had to take some space for myself and figure out what my niche was (SPOILER ALERT: you’re reading my niche).

Now this “space” thing I referenced didn’t come without effects. I grew apart from some people who used to be closest to me. While I was walking around trying to figure out who I am as a person, I realized that I no longer agreed with the way I was letting certain people influence my life. I started standing up for myself with friends who I had previously let push me around. I began to look past high school and came to peace with the fact that these four years of my life are important… but it’s only four years. With this mindset, I stopped pretending to care about petty things that I had faked cared about in the past in order to fit in. Those dumb issues truly didn’t matter to me, so why act like they did? I quit letting other people’s opinions and the anxiety of what others might think keep me from doing what I wanted. I started branching out to new people and trying new things.  And the results of my new and improved “living for myself” lifestyle were incredible.

I am more confident than I have ever been. I don’t require people’s approval to do things anymore because I approve of them myself. I no longer need my old friends to be apart of everything I do. Because as much as I love my friends, I have to love myself too and standing in their shadows did nothing but make me feel powerless. I stopped playing a background character in my own life and now I’m playing the star. And let me just tell ya.. being the star is awesome.

Plus on top of all of that, I found my niche. This whole writing thing I’ve been giving a go? It was scary at the beginning and it still is scary sometimes, but I love it-I truly do. It makes me smile and laugh and crack dumb jokes (that you’re stuck reading…sorry). I am finally feeling what those other kids on the track team were feeling all those months ago. Looking back on all the time I wasted trying to be the person everyone else wanted me to be makes me cringe because I don’t even recognize that girl anymore.

This girl however, the one that’s talking to right now (or typing to you I guess), that’s the girl I will proudly claim as myself. This girl has come out of the “shadows” and found her “thing”…. and it feels pretty darn good.

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Ainsley Allen

Ainsley is a teenage girl who currently lives with her family in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. Ainsley loves big cities, pretty sunsets and cute dogs. She fills her time by dancing, reading good books and singing in the shower.
Ainsley hopes to pursue a career in journalism and write for a women’s magazine. Until then however, she is just working on making it through high school.

16 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Wow! What you articulated so well in this post takes some people YEARS to realize and embrace. I love every bit of this article and the message it sends. You have a gift! Keep on keepin’ on Miss Ainsley! You are awesome!

  • So happy you gave found your true passion & are leading your authentic life! You have not folded to the peer pressure that many girls your age find themselves doing..
    I know your mom well & feel like I know you as well. Kudos, well done.

  • You’re my hero. At 45, I’m still waiting to be this confident. Go get ’em, girl. Love you more than life.

  • It took me years to do this! Love what you wrote and hope others will read it and find the courage to step out to find what they love.

  • Dearest Ainsley, you couldn’t be MORE RIGHT! The only person that can make you truly happy is YOU!! You have to find things that you enjoy & if doing that makes others unhappy, I personally believe that they’re not worth your time. Great friends will always be there for you no matter what your passions are!
    SO insightful of you to even think about this let alone learn this at such a young age! You’re AWESOME at this too! I always love “listening” to what you have to “say!”
    Keep up the GREAT work, Sweetheart!

  • You are wise beyond your years. I wish I could bottle your confidence and enthusiasm! I know a few kids (and adults) who could use some. Well done!

  • Took me 50 some years to come to this conclusion. You are way ahead of the game and will benefit from realizing it so soon! Go girl!!

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