My lovely friend Kirsten wrote this amazing and inspiring blog
that I read recently, and have reread quite a few times since. It really struck me in so many ways, and I think its raw honesty is quite refreshing, even if the subject matter is a little stinging in its truth.
One of the fun things about the blog as a whole is that I persuaded her to write it, in part because I love her to death, but mostly because we have many wonderful and passionate conversations on the things that inspire us and the things that hold us back. She has an amazing insight, and a really hypnotic excellence in her words that she pours quite wonderfully into her songs. And among our heart-wrenching and awesome conversations we have, we find hope, and optimism, and sometimes even new ways to think on the things that might be holding us back.
I asked her one day if she would ever think about sharing her thoughts with the world, and eventually, I’m proud to say she did. And it is VERY much worth waiting for. 🙂
In the first entry, Kirsten talks about nicknames that plagued her childhood, and perceptions about herself that she learned growing up. The blog is a revelation of her journey into realization of who she really is, that lovely, amazing, inspiring woman we love to death. She’s not the nickname she was called as a child, she’s who she chooses to be.
It’s not easy being a female these days. Maybe it never has been, but I can only speak of my world and my experiences. With air-brushed 15- and 16- year-old girls gracing the cover of every top selling fashion magazine, it’s tough to be a female in society and have a healthy, happy inner- and outer- “sense of self”. That’s right – barely pubescent, fully air-brushed GIRLS are being touted as the image we are meant to aspire to. Furthermore, if guys are constantly seeing the air-brushed and borderline jail bait in the pages of Maxim, Sports Illustrated and GQ, is it a wonder any female feels any measure of confidence wearing a bathing suit at a public beach, a LBD, or, God forbid taking her clothes off in front of a guy she wants to be up close and personal with?? (Guys: re-read that last statement… Good. Now read it again… That’s a BIG CLUE for you as to why your woman takes issue with you having those mags around!)
For me, reading it was also a really powerful lesson about the things we hold dear, and how they may not necessarily be good for us. It inspired me to respond to her with my own observations on life’s harsh lessons, and I share them here for you also.
Its funny what we carry around with us, what insensitive comment that they didn’t really think about after its said that has etched itself into our minds and hearts and pushed us to be, or not to be, the people we are today.
I remember being at school and I was in math class. Now I hate math, can’t understand it for toffee, and can’t wrap my brain around why there is no “why” when they tell you this is how math is. There is no why, apparently, there’s just math. It is. Math.
Now for some reason, while understanding math was like trying to learn a foreign language without the translation, my brothers understood it. They are two and four years younger than me, and teachers often said to me, “why can’t you be more like your brothers”. It stung, it always did, but I sucked it up, said something rude inside, and smiled.
The worst day was when I was about 16 I think it was, trying to master a math module class so that I could take the higher math and go to college to be something brainy. My teacher pretty much had enough of us and she wasn’t the nicest person either. In a fit of fury she said to me, in front of the class “you’re too stupid to teach” and stormed out of the class in disgust.
The boys in the class thought it was hysterical because they had goaded her so much she broke. We all thought she deserved it.
Until I moved here I spent my life like this: whenever I looked in the mirror to try and see the 17 year old, almost anorexic me that I thought I was (per Kirsten’s psychology comment posted below), trying to be the me everyone else wanted, I always heard this hateful teacher’s cutting words “you’re too stupid to teach”.
Surveys taken reveal that the majority of females have either been on or currently are on a diet. Sixty-five percent of American women between the ages of 25 and 45 report having eating disorder behaviors (2008 study). Sad. Actually, pretty pathetic. Are women not THE most amazing creatures on this planet? Strong. Soft. Vision beyond what’s evident. Multi-taskers by design. Adaptable. Co-creators and incubators of life. Helpers and givers by nature. Compassionate. WHY ARE WE SO OBSESSED WITH TAKING UP LESS SPACE ON THIS PLANET?!
I move 5000 miles from everything I knew, and didn’t like, to a country and a place where they said I was and am smart and funny and creative and talented and quirky. Ok so being called quirky is sometimes a compliment, but sometimes I hear it as a character definition on par with “stupid”,” out of control” and “not normal”, or worse “different” in that not-a-compliment tone. Hey, I never said I was perfect.
It took me 3 years to work up the courage to fix the inside of my head, and 2 more to actually do it.
I still hear those words though. She wasn’t the only one to say them, she just did it in a way I never saw coming.
I fight to hold onto the truth. And the truth is I’m pretty nice. I’m also pretty smart, and if I don’t know something I always find a way, or a person, or a workaround (aka ‘cheat’) to get it done. I’m impulsive, intuitive, instinctive, creative, and a whole bunch of other “-ive” words I can’t think of right now.
My favorite part of this whole adventure is that I am now in a country where I can be who I want to be, have a family of friends who want me to be it too, and have the means and the support to seize each moment that comes along. Carpe Diem.
It’s easy to look in the mirror and list everything we don’t like. It’s easy to stand still in the familiar and not want to change. The hardest thing we can do is look in the mirror and choose to fight ourselves and our inner voices to be the person we deserve to be. We all deserve to be awesome, and we all deserve to surround ourselves with people who love us and want us to be the very best version of awesome that we can be.
I’ve often wondered why things happen the way they do, and why I can’t learn all these wonderful lessons when I’m young enough to grow from them; being the age I am today I see how much time I wasted being lost and being tied down and being so frozen in fear and uncertainty that I never got anywhere. God had to take me 5000 miles away from everything I knew to truly open my eyes.
And after all of that, here’s my thought. If you look at all the bumps, stumbles, and scrapes life gives us, it puts value on the things we really want. I know that I want to finish my book. I know that I want to be an actor. I know that I want to be a mom, however God has that happen. After all the rough and tumble and heartache and mean words I’ve been told and am now fighting to ignore, I now truly know what I’m fighting for.
Sometimes I think God tests us. Let me rephrase that… I know that God tests us. He never tests us more than we can handle, says the bible, though sometimes I think that because its a book and therefore doesn’t have feelings and emotions that it totally has no idea how much we can handle. We’re human, and we’re fragile, sensitive, delicate creatures who crave love and affection and comfort and peace. When life gets ugly and complicated it’s hard to remember that God’s right there, walking alongside us as we stumble blindly through our tears willing it to get better. It’s hard to know and hold onto the truth that everything happens for a reason, especially when that ‘everything’ includes cutting comments that write themselves deep into our memories and whisper their nastiness into our ears when we’re most vulnerable. It’s hard to remember that God’s there when the darkness holds us so tight that we can’t remember how to breathe.
When we find that inner strength it’s empowering. It’s as intoxicating as it is terrifying, but it drives us and pushes us forward even when the whispering doubts try and sneak in. I like to believe that those life experiences help us know what we are fighting for and help us stand strong and confident in each new moment. If we know where we’ve been, we know where we want to be, and we know how much we are fighting for.
Whatever happens, whatever life reveals, I know it will be great… even if it takes an unusual path to get you where you want to be. And it’s that path which will fuel your inspiration and which will remind and reinforce what you truly want to fight for.
Whoever you are, and wherever you are, sleep sweet and know that you are loved, for all the wonderfulness that you are, by people who choose not to see your flaws, lest you see theirs too.