Tag Archives: self esteem

Girl on “Wire”

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They said grace and let the soy sauce roll.

Rows of sushi stuffed with salmon and avocado lined the plates in delicate, little rows, ready to be prodded by the chopsticks of girls gone hungry for communion & conversation.

They settled in their chairs, relaxed into the rhythms of one another’s stories. They were old friends, all too familiar with the way that distance could rap on the door frame.

“My girl wire got the best of me… it definitely did this time.” 

She stared down at her plate and looked up for some kind of forgiveness from her friend.

The two turned to laughing. They cleared the air of apologies. It wasn’t too late. No, it was not too late. 

 

One of my best friends and I refer to it as the “girl wire.”

The girl wire is best defined as “the ability to lose one’s footing, balance, and sanity, in a frenzy of obsession over a guy.” It’s a common prince charming syndrome. It’s acting out of emotion, out of carnal “accept me” motives, rather than grounded soul & assurance in your own worth.

It’s the abandoning of all the confidence & assurance you’ve carved into yourself for the approval of another. It’s letting that approval dominate your thoughts. Your actions. Alter your beliefs. Making you go back on the person you said you wanted to be all along.

Together, we’ve learned the tightrope walk of balance between being completely smitten over the existence of another beautiful soul and what it means to pack up and move straight into the Valley of Gone, Baby, Gone. A Valley of Straight Up Losing Yourself to Another. Checking the phone incessantly. Finding value in his words. Sizing yourself up by the comments he makes and the breath he bothers to take to speak life into you.  

The feminist that sometimes stirs in me would say this desire to be accepted is engraved in our roots.

The feminist inside of me would banter about young women raised to be praised as “pretty little things.” Raised to be small. Raised to be weak. Raised to be waiting by the door for a savior. Or by the window for a prince. And, when that prince comes, we pour out ourselves like a basin. We swab the decks of that Yesterday Girl to be whatever another person wants out of our Tomorrow.

But the plain old girl inside of me, the one who still doesn’t know if she prefers tea or coffee on a rainy Tuesday, would just say that we are all looking to be loved & accepted, and we are willing to give up a lot of ourselves to get there. 

 

Now I ain’t saying love is a bad thing.

I ain’t saying that falling into the arms of a Somebody who devours your quirks like pancakes on Sunday is a sin. I’m just saying that we is human beings. We is fragile. We is broken. We is never prepared to handle all the parts of someone else; we were never designed to be such holders. 

And. yet. we. try. like. the. dickens.

It’s instinct to throw ourselves into another. It’s hope strung like Christmas lights around the barn that another person could be all the arms we ever needed, all the love we ever prayed for, all the acceptance we gave up on giving ourselves. It’s affirmation & confirmation & admiration & and all the other “ations” we crave to keep us from staring in the mirror and finding just what it might take to go weak-kneed over our own reflections and the life that surges from inside us.

Oh, if we stopped shoving off that power. Oh, if we realized that our hands are so very small for a reason; and that a guy can come along and hold our hands, and kiss our hands, but they cannot hold the whole of us in such little hands. Oh, if we only cut off the “girl wire” and just sank into the skins of a girl on fire. 

Know this: I’m not here to pour poetry out onto your soul. Watering your bones with almond milk syllables will never mean a damn thing if I don’t just simply say, in one single sentence, what I have learnt to be true in all these years: your completion does not rest in another. It’s not lock-and-keyed into the heart of another. Or a 6’3 stature. Or the glow of a screen. Or the sounding of a text.

It’s already stitched inside of you, as beautiful as the dust of a Creation Story that knit you in secret spaces out of spiderweb silk. It’s there, there in the deep of you already, no matter how much sludge & hollow & pain & abuse & resentment has covered it up in all these years.

It never goes away. It never buys the next train ticket out and decides to leave you standing on the platform alone.

You might forget it. You might lose the muscles it takes to believe in it. But everything you have ever needed is already inside of you. It’s sprawling like bucketfuls of wildflowers. It demands a watering can that’s only ever craved your fingers wrapped around its handle.

Your completion does not rest in another. If I know a single thing to be true in this crazy, whimsical life… it’s that. I don’t always believe in it but I know it is true. 

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Filed under Love Yourself, Perfectionism

We can plant a box in the middle of town and, on days when we are feeling lovely, we could pour the loveliness in.

Thought I was writing this letter for a girl in Starbucks after I could not help but eavesdrop on her phone conversation… She walked away and I just sat there, staring at the words I wrote to her. The letters jumped from the page.

Turns out I was writing it not just for her but for me, my best friend and a slew of other young women just trying to find their place in this life.

If that’s you today, then this letter is yours. 

I’m sorry but I could not help but sit within your phone conversation.

I’ll admit it right now. Up Front. I totally sat somewhere between the iced coffee in front of you and the mess of paperwork surrounding you.

Somewhere between the iPhone to your ear and the Words that Seemed to Shatter Against the Starbucks Window you sat beside.

I stayed and lingered for a while. Hanging off the words you said to someone who should have been better to you.

“You know… I am doing OK.”

A Great Pause.

“It’s just tough… I am going to have to prove myself… I just need to be relevant in some way. The way I was in LA… It’s been hard to be nothing at the end of the day.”

And gosh, I don’t know you, so I guess this is where I wanted the most to break into the conversation and awkwardly make some comment about how much I adore your blouse. The green really fits you.

I don’t really care about the green blouse, I just have a tough time blurting out to strangers that I think the world is better because of them.

And all I really want to say, beyond silk and satin compliments, is that I am in your shoes. That a million of us are in your shoes today. Wanting to feel adequate. Loved. Wondering if we should start jumping on tables and yelling in the middle of the Fresh Produce aisles of Target just so people know we are here. That we exist. That we matter.

You know, if I were a psychologist I might attest that it all traced back to our Little Girl Days…Beside toys & dolls with frilled dresses, we became Girls Who Cared Too Much. Lived Too Little. Tried Too Hard to Win Too Little of Love than the Great Love We Truly Deserved.

If I were a sociologist I would say it stems back the Mean Girls. To the cold shuns of lockers closing & twisted teeth, neon metal filling their mouths, who slur secrets to one another about the way we dress and the hairs on our heads. That’s when we became Slaves, Shackled to What the World Thinks of Us.

And if I were an anthropologist I would say this goes all the way back to Eve…. Even in her fig leaf ensembles, I am so certain if she had been handed a resume, an LSAT study book, a pair of tweezers and a beauty magazine she would have found ways to sit by the water when Adam wasn’t looking, stare into her reflection and whisper out loud, “Be more, Eve. Be more.”

But strip from me the “psych” & “soc” & “anthro” and I am just some Ologist who is dying to tell you that you don’t have to be alone in this. That we can figure out this mess together. Day by day. Even minute by minute if it takes us that long. But we don’t have to go it alone.

I say we, and not you, because already—even if you don’t believe it—I’m determined to not leave you alone in this.

We can get an army going, for I know there are a lot of pretty girls this side of the town who would gather alongside us.

We could plant a box in the middle of town and, on days when we are feeling lovely, we could pour the loveliness in. When you are feeling beautiful, you go ahead and pour into it too. Pass that love to the box for a girl who’s feeling less Lovely & needs a lift the next day. We could seesaw love… back and forth to one another. It could be a beautiful, radical thing that would keep us away from coffee shops that leave us spilling self-worth out from the seams of phone conversations.

We could laugh about this one day over too many glasses of wine. We could cock our heads back and snicker for several hours over the silliness that’s now stitched to the days we called ourselves Worthless. Not Good Enough. Inadequate. Irrelevant.

Snicker, snicker, snicker, I think I’d like to laugh about this one day, to reach a point where I could stand before a mirror and laugh until my head falls off, saying to the girl with brown hair looking back, “How did I ever abandon you? Cut you down? Push you into boxes far too small? 

I love you, and I adore you. I love you, and I adore you.

You are my best friend and I won’t forget to remember that… you are my best friend and I wont remember to forget that.”

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Filed under Beauty, Love Yourself

Beauty that comes in six shades of red and seven different sizes.

The secret to a life well-lived is beautiful skin. A whittled waistline and “stop him dead in his tracks” pick up lines. The right pair of shoes. A clean diet (one that will try to convince you is not based upon deprivation). Great sex. A slim body and a fat wallet. A swimsuit that fits your shape. Flat abs that take less than 15 minutes a day to maintain. Makeup that feels like it is barely there. And looking better naked.

At least this is what the world tells me as I walk out the door each morning.

My hands detected the worth and weight of beauty magazines at the age of 12 and I was never the same again. I flipped through the glossy pages where pretty girls smiled back at me and home remedies made promises that I don’t think they were ever fully equipped to keep. As I traced the Perfect Lips. Lashes. Long Flowing Hair. I remember thinking to myself, “I never realized I had this much to fix.I never knew I was missing so much.” I never realized I was this broken.

We digest the pages of these magazines and websites as though they are the 300-calorie sandwich with only 217 milligrams of sodium that sits and waits for us on page 112.

We are fed this idea that the key to true satisfaction and real happiness is somewhere amidst a butt-toning workout and a cream that makes cellulite vanish. We stay hungry over the fact that we can chalk life up to being obsessed with outward appearance, to Always Needing to Fix Something. And as a result? We never need to put away the tool belt, fully loaded with 8-minute abs and voluminous mascara.

If we always have some outer glitch to fix- To Make Our Thighs Smaller, Our Love Handles A Little More Lovely- then we never have to stare inward. We can abandon a quest for inner piece in order to make a journey towards a clear complexion. We never need to shred emotional baggage when Jillian Michaels and P90X promise us a different- more visible- kind of shred.

A great friend of mine spent time building a medical clinic near an all girls orphanage in Latin America and I saw the revelation in his eyes as he told me about the beautiful little girls. Little Girls who missed arms & legs & limbs and yet found nothing to miss at all. “But they were the happiest children I had ever seen, ” he told me. “Because they had not been taught that they were missing something.

We are floundering in a culture that wants to convince us that we are missing something. Constantly Missing. Seven Steps Away From Perfection. Perfect Thighs. Perfect Curves. Perfect Lovers. Perfect Days. What would happen to all those magazines and reality TV shows and billboards if we looked in the mirror and realized we were missing nothing. That it was all there. Sitting abundantly on both our insides and outsides.

That we could stop in our own reflection stand there without an ounce of pressing time itching at our ankles.  To realize the most radiant element on our faces was not half off at WalMart yesterday. To say confidently to our inner selves, “You are not missing things. You are wonderful just the way you are. You are whole.

Whole in a world that tells us we are empty. Full in a world that tells us we are hungry. Content in a world that tells us we are unsatisfied. Here. Right Here. All Parts Intact. In a world that convinces us that we are missing vital parts. Parts that will fulfill us, happiness that sits on a shelf for $4.99, beauty that comes in six shades of red and seven different sizes.

At some point we decide that we are going to pull away, that we are going to shun our ears from the messages that seek to pierce us and make us feel less than worthy. It is not an easy task. A task that never meets perfection. But little by little we allow ourselves to put down the tool belt, put down the coupons and the washed up images of the “way we used to look” to stop and see that all we ever needed never cost us $19.99 and our own self esteem as a sacrifice.

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Filed under Beauty, Healthy Lifestyle, Love Yourself, Women