When I was 12 years old, I was awarded a scholarship to a fancy pants, world-renowned ballet school. This meant that I had to pack up my bags and leave home to live in a dorm with a bunch of girls who were much older than me. When you are 12 years old and you are thrown into the middle of a pack of extremely competetive 16 year old girls, it would seem difficult to make friends, yes? You’d think that they’d want to slap me upside the tutu, much in the same way that I always wanted supposedly “cute” Scrappy Doo to get his little head blown off. Yet, I remember fitting in quite well. Are you impressed with this story so far? Because I am. I look back at that and I think about how I had BALLS, marching into that situation with no parents and no friends and just taking it all in stride and successfully hanging out with all the big kids. Like a lot of things during that part of my life, I can’t quite believe I pulled it off so well. Dancing up a storm, making friends, living on my own. I was a rockin’ little kid. Except for one thing. I minimized the whole thing to the point where I almost kept it a secret.
Let me elaborate. The day that I was to leave for the school, my parents took me to the airport, helped me check in my bags, and walked me to the gate to deliver me to the flight attendant. The attendant knelt down and pinned a big white button on my coat. The button said “Unaccompanied Minor.” Isn’t that crazy? What kind of thing is that to put on a little girl? They may as well have given me a sign to carry that said “Pedophiles and kidnappers, this one’s for you!” Do airlines still do this? I hope not. But I digress. I got on the plane and found my seat. All of the flight attendants, knowing that I was on my own, showered me with attention. I was swimming in peanuts and ginger ale, and I remember one of them excitedly telling me that she had just been on a flight where she had served Bryan Adams a beer in First Class. I think she thought that she was bonding with me about Bryan Adams so I tried to be enthusiastic about the story. There was a woman sitting next to me on the flight, and at one point she turned to me kindly and asked “so, where are you off to, all by yourself? Visiting relatives?” I looked at her. I looked up at the two flight attendants that were standing in the aisle next to me, hovering like two doting aunties. They were so nice, so lovely to me. And I looked at all of their sweet faces and I said, without blinking: “I am going to rodeo clown school.” I’m not kidding. I totally said that.
Why? What would possess me to say such a thing? I thought that if I told them where I was really going, that I would be bragging. And I didn’t want to be gross braggy girl. Nothing would be worse than being gross braggy girl. God forbid I would be proud of myself. And if I was proud of myself, for god’s sake, I needed to keep that shit quiet. I was a very nice girl. And nice girls minimize their accomplishments. Right?
Never mind the fact that saying that I was going to rodeo clown school was clearly a ridiculous lie. I remember looking at the women’s reactions, and seeing in their faces that they knew I was a big liar and maybe a little nutty in the noggin. That, somehow, was ok with me. Being a weirdo-liar was better than being a proud girl. Anything was better than telling them something that made me feel good about myself.
So as an adult, I have been on a mission to beat this tendency out of myself. I think it’s total crap that I got the message, somewhere along the line, that you don’t claim your successes, that you hide when you’re happy, that you’re a better person if you feel bad about yourself a lot. I don’t know where this message came from. My parents are models of kick-ass power unconditional-love. Their hearts would have broken had they known I felt this way as a kid. But I learned it somewhere. It’s in the air; it sneaks into your skin before you know it.
So now, I am a staunch advocate of self love. (Dirty!) I’m all about accepting myself, giving myself a goddamn break, knowing that hells yeah, I kind of rock out, balls out. Sometimes it’s harder than other times. I admit that I still had a little bit of an embarrassed cringe when I typed the first sentence of this post, and that I tried to find a way of saying that I got a scholarship to a fancy school without actually SAYING that I got a scholarship to a fancy school. Until I realized that that was what I was doing and decided to just say what I meant and fuck it if it sounds…confident. I am a librarian who believes in not-shushing people. And hey, I’m people! So I need to not shush myself. Damn, it’s hard though.
But I have, honestly, been waging a full-scale war on this boolcrap for some years now. It seems to be getting easier as I go along. You won’t find me, EVER, as a RULE, participating in those girly conversations where the purpose is to take turns kicking ourselves in the jugular. You know the conversations I’m talking about. They go a little something like this: “I’m so fat!” or “I hate my hair!” or “why won’t he CALL me?” And the longer I don’t engage in this stuff, the more I don’t believe in it any more. Actually, my hair is just fine thanks.
How often do you judge yourself? Think about it. Then do me a favor. QUIT IT. Try and go one day where you think that you’re fabulous for the whole day. Then go another day. It won’t always work, but eventually, you’ll get to a place where you have more fabulous days than judgy days. And you’ll have more compassion for other people too, which is a bonus.
All of this babble is merely a preface (goddammit that was a long preface) because I got tagged by Bohemian Girl with the Stuart Smalley meme. Here goes. I’m going to write out ten things that rock about me. And when I start to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable in doing this, or when I feel like I want to make a joke to minimize what I’m saying, I am going to say, loud and proud, FUCK MODESTY. I suggest you do the same.
1. I’m a good conversationalist. I listen and ask a lot of questions, and I have good stories to tell too.
2. In any social group, I can always tell right away who the person is in the room that feels left out, or uncomfortable, or shy. I do whatever I can to make that person feel welcome. At parties, I don’t usually gravitate to the person who is the center of attention- my radar pulls me the opposite way.
3. I have good boundaries with people. I know what’s healthy for me and what’s not, and if you’re not, I’m cutting you out. No apologies and no hard feelings.
4. I like that I laugh a really lot.
5. I’m a really good librarian. I rock it every day.
6. I pick the greatest friends. I think it’s my best talent. The people around me are ridiculously amazing. And I don’t half-ass friendship. If you’re my peeps, then I’m all in for you.
7. I like that I live my life, on all levels, according to my values and my ethics. And that I know exactly what my values and ethics are.
8. I love my style. Clothes, home, all of it really expresses who I am. It’s minimalist both in style and in the fact that I don’t own a lot, but it seems like I do.
9. I like that I take really good care of myself. I eat right, I’m active, I sleep enough, I take time for myself, I’m kind to myself, all that stuff.
10. I have a great rack. I’m just saying.
Ok, so I had to make a sort of joke at the end. It was getting a little too much for me there. Still, I gave it my best shot. And you know what? My rack ain’t half bad. Just kidding! No, I’m not. Yes, I am. Kind of. Not really. Damn it. This is hard.
I’m tagging all ya’ll. Go love yourself.
Kiss the rings, I’m out.