I’ve been studying women lately. Girlfriends, my mom, my taekwondo teacher and classmates, the grocery store checkers, the Peet’s barista (especially Tish, who always remembers my name), yoga instructors, my fitness students, and so on.
The way they move, the voices they use in conversation, interactions with strangers, behaviors toward other women, behavior with men, the way they drive, their body language, facial expressions, eye contact (or lack of), laughter, service interactions, etc.
I’m so tuned in that I’ve vibed with many women through shared glances, smiles, and random conversation. My staring also gets me a few stinkeyes. Apparently, some people don’t like to be observed? Anyway, it’s a fascinating study.
This project of mine began as a direct result of having lived my entire life as an outsider. Don’t be sad, please, because I’m not sad about it. I’m not complaining or upset. It’s just how I’ve felt.
I’ve felt like an outsider because I’ve never understood WHY people don’t say what they mean. I haven’t been able to connect to people who just play along by the rules when they don’t like the rules. Or worse, when they play along and the rules are unfair. I’ve never understood social cliques and their weird rules and nuances. I’ll never relate to people who aren’t consistent; either consistently mean or consistently nice! And, I’ve never been great at letting go of mistakes; especially my own.
My “what the fuck?” face was fully formed by the age of 4. My parents have a VHS recording of me at my first dance recital waving my Snow White feather duster in my precious ballet classmates faces because “they were skipping in the wrong direction”. Fast forward to 2009 when my boss (thank you Rob Zinman) scolded me, “you need to spend more time living in the world the way it is rather than telling the world the way it ought to be!”
Sidenote: Ask my parents, my husband, and my lifelong friends and they’ll tell you that little has changed with regard to my ability to go with the flow. I try though. I really, really do! (notice I’m apologizing here, goddamnit…you’ll understand the irony as you read on)
So, Why, when women are sad, do they say, “I’m fine” or, “I’m really good, thanks”? Because it’s not polite or socially acceptable to give a real answer.
Why are women constantly saying, “I’m sorry”? Because it must have been her fault, or she must at least pretend it was her fault. She wouldn’t want to seem bitchy. These are the rules.
Why does it seem like women are always asking, by way of the tone in our voice or the use of deferential body language, for permission and approval? Permission from our families, approval from our peers and friends, permission from men, approval from men? Because we don’t value ourselves as truly free or equal and we just really need that okay from some authority. It’s called oppression. This is why cliques form.
Why are most women so critical and fearful of other women? Because we’re taught by our mothers.
Why do so many of us change our voices depending on who is listening? Because it’s too scary to stay in our big girl voice. What if someone doesn’t approve or they disagree? It’s more important to be beautiful and pleasing.
Why are many women so often afraid to draw an X in the sand that says, “I am HERE”? Because self expression is the ultimate freedom. We don’t feel truly free when we are self-oppressed or socially oppressed.
I could spend 4,327 more days analyzing, observing, researching, and discussing the “why’s”. I spent at least an hour discussing the why’s with my dear friend Jayme Jaymster yesterday. But I’m going to stop myself.
I’m pressing pause to simply say, “enough already”. I, the gal who so often says exactly what I mean (as my husband says, “swing my hammer”), do so many of the girly/womanly things I’ve been observing. I find myself apologizing, asking for permission, acceptance, and approval, and even wishing to belong to one of the cliques I don’t understand. My own voice can change in the company of those I feel “less than”, becoming smaller and less sure.
The problem is this: my “wtf?” voice and face are still there inside me, in spite of my contradictory actions. They get especially fired up from all of that apologizing, permission asking, and voice changing. I become conflicted, which leads to feeling frustrated; angry even. Angry with myself for apologizing for being a strong woman. For asking permission to be the strong woman I am. For seeking approval from my peers, and even friends, that I will never get because their mothers taught them to be afraid and to criticize. I get angry with myself when I’m too afraid to draw the “x” in the sand to say, “I am here!”
Again, enough already.
In conclusion of my study, I’m ready to continue my focus of connecting with women who want to be or get strong. I’m going to vibe with the ladies who own their badassery. I’m going to push people, sometimes by swinging my verbal hammer, who want to be pushed. I’m going to catch myself as often as possible when I fall into the bad, learned, habits of apologizing, and criticizing or fearing other gals. Yep, I’m unlearning it, cuz I’m done apologizing. I’m done asking permission. No more pleas’n. I’m a big girl now and I can handle rejection. Consider disappointment and disagreement “handled” as well. Oppression? Well, we can’t be oppressed when we are fully free to express ourselves, can we? I’ll handle that, too.
Ladies, we can handle it. (I know you hear Beyonce, too) I hope that something resonates from this page of madness. Maybe it’s that you catch yourself apologizing or asking for permission. Maybe you catch your voice changing. Or maybe you think about speaking up and drawing that X. You are here!
Women are truly the most amazing creatures. We are all different, mostly beautiful (not just asthetics) and always unique. We all have an inner badass who wants desperately to be revealed and heard. I want to hear you. I want to see you. The world wants it, too.
As always, I remind myself and remind you to live life knowing that lifestyle is the sum of our choices. We are free to be and become exactly who we want. I want to be happy.