Deja-vu and Elephant Training.

That's probably the weirdest blog post title I've made yet.  But trust me, there's a reason for it.  I want to talk about two things, totally unrelated things but things I feel like cathartically writing down and musing over.  The first being the sense of deja-vu I got this weekend from the realization that this whole moving, being an au-pair thing, gives me some of the exact same feelings I got as a foster child.

The routine in foster care went thus: new family, new friends and foster siblings, new home, new school in some cases, new room, blah blah blah.  Once you get used to that, you feel comfortable, happy even.  You love and value your friends, you do everything you can to spend time with them and make your own life as comfortable as possible.  Then one day you hear that you're leaving, and you have to say goodbye to what you've known, and most painfully (for me) your friends.  In foster care, some of my moves were only an hour or so away, but to a teenager without transportation it may as well be like, Africa to Hong Kong.  Especially in the pre-Facebook and pre-Skype days (my god, how old am I?)

I realize of course that this is an entirely different situation.  I appreciate that, and know that first of all I am not just a teenager without transport, that I do have ways of keeping in touch with my friends, that I do know where I am going and the family taking me in are really great people who aren't getting a paycheck out of me or any foster care-esque motives.  In fact, they're the ones paying me.  Now that's a twist I can appreciate.  But of course, the feelings stay with you.  Having them come back now reminds me of just how broken and lost I was as a teenager.  It's really heartbreaking to know that someone so young had to go through such things and that more and more young people are going through them every single day.  This is one of the reasons I want to be a foster parent.  Explaining situations like this to people is fruitless if not a waste of time.  Being in the situation is something unique, something I could share with foster children if I had them.

The second part of what I want to write about is something I read from a self-esteem building website.  I'm ashamed to admit that since making my resolution to not hate myself, I'm a little lost on how people gain self-esteem and yes, I googled it.  Anyway, this is what I came across, and I just have to share:

Elephants in captivity are trained, at an early age, not to roam. One leg of a baby elephant is tied with a rope to a wooden post planted in the ground. The rope confines the baby elephant to an area determined by the length of the rope. Initially the baby elephant tries to break free from the rope, but the rope is too strong. The baby elephant "learns" that it can't break the rope. 
When the elephant grows up and is strong, it could easily break the same rope. But because it "learned" that it couldn't break the rope when it was young, the adult elephant believes that it still can't break the rope, so it doesn't even try.  Humans operate in a similar way. We learned something about ourselves at an early age and still believe it as an adult. Even though it may not be true, we operate as if it is.

 Reading this really struck home with me.  It reminds me that one reason my self confidence might be so low is because of how I was taught as a child.  Or rather, taught how to feel about myself.  There's another quote out there that says "Don't believe everything you think" and I think it definitely applies.  But I don't confine the belief that low self-esteem is just for poverty-stricken abandoned children like myself...we all deal with it, and we all maybe forget that sometimes our own minds can be the meanest bully on the playground.  How to beat up that bully and get on with my life is something I haven't quite grasped, but recognition is maybe the first step.


  1. Waaaaaaaait! You got the au-pair job?! Did I miss this somewhere? Yay! And how long are you in Sweden for? I thought it was just for Christmas-ish!

    Secondly, I really like that elephant story. I think it's awesome that you are being proactive about upping your self esteem (researching vs just saying you want to change) and it's so important to do that. I think reading positive things like that is so helpful.

    1. yes!!! I wrote about it a few posts ago here: http://www.tennessee-red.com/2012/12/its-sometimes-very-little-things.html

      but I guess I was really vague, LOL. That's okay, I don't like to count my chickens before they hatch, this has seemed very unreal so far and even a few of my Swedish friends didn't know I was staying. I don't know how long I'm going to au pair actually, I'm not sure! But I will figure it out soon, I meet my family tomorrow :D

      Researching self esteem makes me feel like kind of a tard, but I don't know how else to do it. I like that you called it being proactive :D that definitely makes it seem better.

    2. Oh yaaaa! Now I remember the 'our Patricia' part. It was so cute.

  2. I am such a believer in teaching children young to know their value and worth. I hate that my husband came from a home where he was picked on and always told he wasn't good enough. I'm helping him see that's not true but I'm pretty sure I'll always have to help him fight the "I'm not good enough" voices in his head. Especially since they still come from his parents. I don't always think of myself as amazing, even though it's how my parents raised me, but I definitely see a difference in how I view myself and how Aaron views himself. With our baby coming it's something I've been pondering a lot!