I read this amazing post the other day. It was a blog I have never really ventured to. But the message, wow. It got me right where it was meant to I am sure. It was titled, “Just Own It“. This is something I have only recently mastered. I am a big fat weenie. I constantly think, “but what if they don’t like me?” “But what if they think I am a bad mother?” “But what if they give me a bad evaluation?” Well hello world, I would like to introduce you to the “new” me. The one that is going to own it. Or better yet…say no to it.
I am a wimp. I can’t tell people no. I get asked to help at my girls schools. Yes. I get asked to add additional work to my already full teaching schedule. Yes. I get asked to start doing a few more things at my house so my guy can get out on the golf course more. Yes. I get asked to help my family or his family more. Yes. The yes has to stop because I realize I am doing some of those things poorly. And at the end of the day when I need something for my self, say maybe the energy to take a shower after a workout or paint my toe nails the answer is always no. The side effect of saying yes to all the above leads me to bad places. The first I give shotty efforts. The second I never have time to do something for my self. The third I resent the above things for my own emotional bankruptcy.
Now enter the world of saying NO and just owning it. I haven’t quite mastered not saying I am sorry for saying no. But I am a work in progress. So you ask, what actually have you said no to? Well you see…I call March the month of some pretty awesome opportunities that came my way. Too many to take every one and I was forced to really decide what deserves my time and effort. I had to come to peace with the fact I could not say yes to everything. So one opportunity that I would have bent over backwards to have a year ago lost out to the opportunity of a lifetime and I said I can’t do it. I tried the truth. I said I would rather do something 100% then do something with less than that.
The benefit to saying no is seeing that I survived it and it allowed me to see my own growth. I recognized my own boundaries and recognized my own belief in what I put out into the world and giving it my one hundred percent. The moral to this story is that I would rather give my all to the things that really matter to me. However, the important part of that statement is ME. I will own it or I will say no to it.
The funny thing I am finding as I advance myself in my education and dare I say career I find the fewer people who get me. I cannot decide if it is me or them. I have clearly chosen the path of an academic. At times I still pretend I am making that decision, but as I sit and talk with people I work with and professors who I have known for the last eight years of my life I know exactly who I am. I am the nerdy book girl who did exactly what she always intended to with her life. To teach and be immersed in the written word. I am still navigating these very strange waters where my identity is being smoothed out. What always drew me to academics is the freedom of being who you are and earning respect for choosing to be who you are. As a teenager and young adult watching all the idealized versions of college, teaching and university life I had an idea of what would exist. I also felt so far removed from it. I wasn’t raised anywhere near a college graduate or even instilled with a great sense of the importance of a college education. It isn’t that my parents didn’t tell me I could do anything. They did. Most of the time though their struggles were paying bills, working to pay those bills and raise decent human beings.
Many might look down on upon my parents and make judgments who they they think they were by what they see on the surface. That is the very primal reason I am where I am today. I like surprising people. I like to go against what statistics and stereotypes dictate for you. How many times have I been asked about my family situation and heard, “Oh” followed by a pity look and then just a general passing over for what it means for my life. What they miss though is it is what made my life what it is. I was always surrounded by people who loved me despite their own lives and circumstances. I had grandparents who often took a parental roll and neighbors and friends who are more like family to me than most can even claim. That isn’t wrong and I won’t let society say it is. My parents loved me the best way they knew how. They always pushed me to be my best and demanded my best.
So I guess statistics say as a female from a divorced home, raised by parents without a college education and a family background of little formal education and more street smarts than book smarts I should not make it. I should not be a success at much more than a minimum wage job or a mother (and even that is questionable depending on what statistical data you read). But I am a success and I am still working on that success. According to the Chronicle for Higher Ed research only 12.34% of adults in my county have a bachelors degree. That is both men and women. That says something so I am guessing if there were statistics to be held on those holding a Masters would be far fewer.
As I have conversations with friends and family and I try and explain what is that is important to me and what I am working on or even opportunities coming my way. I get similar glazed over looks that I got when I was just a poor white girl from a poor white family. Instead, this time I am passed over either out of boredom or they just plain don’t understand. In that I find myself changing my topics of conversation and steering clear of anything work/school related because for so long I have been on the outside looking in. Just wanting to be accepted for me. And I know my advancement of education is not something to be ashamed of or even brushed under the rug but it is my culture to do so. I imagine I will get better at moving through my various communities and not have that constant inner dialogue of what to say and not say the longer I am in school and my job.
The truth is though I want to be that girl that made it but should not have.
Why does this picture bother me so much? Well besides the obvious? The sad part is I don’t ever remember putting an X on my face. I remember cropping this picture so I could use it on my facebook profile. I remember seeing it there staring at me whenever I logged into facebook and hating it. I don’t remember creating this picture. I don’t believe one of my girls did it because it is on my computer. The computer they are forbidden from. That leaves me.
Sadly, this explains how I feel about myself most of the time. I spend most of my free time when it exists hating what I have and wishing for what I don’t have. Losing weight last year was a success for me in this department. I started to have confidence in myself and my looks. Then I hit a plateau. Not necessarily in the weight department but the reality department.
The reality is I feel like I will always be that girl with a little chub. I worked my ass off for almost two years and I am still not where I want to be. I still hate what I see. Sometimes I see a picture of myself and I am startled by my weight loss but I still have this general disgust for myself and what I see.
I wonder where this disdain comes for myself. Probably the same place that put that x on that picture. Unfortunately, I am given one life, one body and I throw it away because I am scared to see past my chubby girl persona. I think sometimes I am just meant to be chubby or I beat myself up for not working harder. The thing is I do work hard and I am still chubby.
I also hate the idea that a magic diet will fix it. I have done diets and lost great weight. Guess what happened? If I feel deprived it comes back harder and with more vigor. I am trying to find comfort in who I am and embrace myself. I like where I am at. I just want to like what I see. I know it will happen. I know I am not stopping my exercise.
When I was in school (more high school) I always sang a song when I was stressed. It made my friends laugh and it cut tension for me. So I leave the end of this post with it being my sentiment for my weight and this silly picture that I have x’ed out myself.
I am nut, in a rut and I am crazzzzzyyyyy.
I realize how easy it is to get lost in my own self-importance when the girls are all here and my guy is here. They need me therefore I am important right? Well I have no doubt I have an importance, but I am always surprisingly shocked by how quickly it comes to a screeching halt and I am left here to stare at myself. I wonder around and feel unmotivated and unimportant. I am paranoid of my value without others to point it out to me. This tells me two things about myself. 1) I place so much value in others perceptions of me and 2) I need to try and give half that attention to myself.
Both things I know I need to not only acknowledge but address, but easier said than done. It is easy to say, “Yea, but I made brownies for # 2 and I washed their clothes all day yesterday.” Instead of saying, “I decided to go for an hour long run yesterday and then I went and had my hair done.” The second one doesn’t sound near as sacrificial as I suppose I am shooting for. Instead I am seeking someone’s approval or acknowledgement for the choices I make as a mother, teacher and woman. I want them to say to me or themselves, “She is a good ‘mom’ ‘wife’ ‘teacher’”. Instead, I should look at the bigger picture of what it is I am actually doing here. I am raising three responsible and beautiful young women to find importance in others. I tell others that I am not but what do my girls see when they see me sad and mopey because I am not needed by them? Or sad and mopey because my students don’t need me and the list goes on. I am sending them contradictory messages of be this person I tell you to be but here watch me, I am the opposite.
It is such a hard identity crisis I walk though daily. In one breath I am their Mom and in the next I am a teacher and in the next a wife and in the next a wannabe runner and in the next a woman. How in the hell do I even navigate all that complicated shit but not get to caught up in the name tags I wear or the self-importance of them? Where my value is determined by what others place on me versus what I place upon myself. We all walk this crazy walk as mothers and though my path is different, my identity crisis I fight daily is not. I consistently encourage other moms I know…resist labels. Don’t let others pencil you in anywhere. Be who you are. Yet here I sit feeling pretty down and mellow because my daughters and husband do not need me every second of every day. Imagine that?