Okay. Now that we've remedied that situation, I am going to try and describe my unreal Thursday. I met up with my friend Jenn (and ran into someone with whom I went to high school), and we waited anxiously for Caitlin (pronounced Cat-lynn, in case you were wondering) to take the stage. And then she did and interviewed herself about her new novel, How to Build a Girl, as well as many other things about her life. She wanted to talk about a lot of things in the book, but one of the biggest things was how to construct yourself, and she mentioned that our default mode as women tends to be "self-loathing". For me... that is completely true. And it sounds stupid, but I never realized that I could just decide to be the kind of self that I would love. But who would I love?
"I find it really distressing that there's only two options for women, that you can either be ugly, or beautiful. I think we've forgotten there's option three, which is be weird. Being weird is an incredibly important and valid choice for a girl to make." - Caitlin Moran
It was really important for me to hear this, because let's face it, I've always been pretty weird. As a child, I read a ton, had very few friends, was the least athletically inclined person you could find, and if bullying had existed as a social problem that people cared about then, I would have definitely been bullied.
In middle school, I had more friends, but I was still a HUGE nerd. If I felt like putting a photo of 13 year old me on the internet was a good idea, I would totally do it, but I don't, so you'll have to live without it. Let me try and paint a picture for you. I was short, had frizzy hair, huge glasses, braces, and boobs that were bigger than everyone else's (which I hated at the time). I didn't have clothes that were "in," I didn't really wear make-up, and I didn't have my ears pierced. I wasn't on any sports teams, I took a ton of honors classes, and I played with the orchestra and sang in the chorus. In 8th grade, I had my first boyfriend, but he was also one of the biggest nerds, so that didn't help my social status. My low self-esteem combined with the luck of the draw genetics, and the depression and anxiety I live with today began to manifest itself then. It was a bad time.
tl;dr - I was not cute or popular and everyone, including me, knew it.
In high school, things were better. I lost the braces, got smaller glasses/occasionally wore contacts, discovered flat irons, and found more people who were owning their nerdiness. It was good, but still not great. I still had a lot of issues with depression, and spent 10 days in an outpatient program when I was 16. I'm not saying that none of this would have happened if I had known that it was okay to just BE WEIRD, but maybe it wouldn't have been as bad.
Now, I'm 29, twenty days away from starting my second year of med school (WHAT???), and I'm married to a man who, by his own admission, is a big weirdo, who happens to love my weirdness. I still don't think I'm cute or popular. I still have frizzy hair (although I did just get a keratin treatment, so that is less of a problem), big glasses are in, I officially can put on eyeliner, and my clothes are mostly not ridiculous (although I still own a sweater that I got in 5th grade, and yes it still fits, but no, I don't wear it out of the house anymore unless I am shoveling snow because Victoria made me promise I wouldn't). My ears are pierced, but I never wear earrings, I still can barely tell a tennis racket from a soccer cleat, and I play a bunch of musical instruments, which apparently is cool once you're a grown-up.
I still sit firmly in Camp Self-Loathing, (which, by the way, is a terrible camp and I advise you to never send your kids there) on many days. You would think, after reading that paragraph above, that I'd pretty much love myself. I don't. There, I said it. Plenty of other people love me, and sometimes, I think I'm okay, but no, I don't love myself. Caitlin talked about how we all have an ideal self, and you can see who that self is if you look at a teenager's walls. My walls had a giant cat poster, some framed photos of roses, and a calendar, none of which have anything to do with my ideal self... even if being a cat would be amazing. Now, my walls are mostly naked, except for a wedding portrait, which is great, but also doesn't really describe my ideal self.
My ideal self would be intelligent and funny, and self-assured. She would be a doctor, but also a writer. She would be a good entertainer, and be able to decorate. She'd be slender and have a great BMI. She wouldn't do things like leave the eggs in the trunk of her car overnight. Her counter tops would always be clean and she would dust every week. She would be a mom (which means that her counter tops would never be clean, but whatever). She would exercise regularly. She would not be anxious about things over which she has absolutely zero control. She would have no credit card debt, a savings account with something in it, and a retirement fund to which she contributed regularly. She would never forget to call her relatives, and she would always send birthday cards on time. She would know how to blow-dry her hair. She would not be afraid.
There are a million other things, and yes, I guess I already am some of those things, but I'm certainly not all of those things. So, while I'm trying to be all of those things, I'm going to focus on the fact that after the talk, Caitlin Moran signed all three of my books, gave me TWO hugs and a kiss, and when I told her that I wanted to write a book or a memoir someday, she told me to never stop writing and that the world should hear my opinion. And then she said she would be my cool aunt, and basically, now we're BFF's. We also took a selfie:
|I don't even care that it's blurry. Our joy could not be contained.|
"There is no difference in pretending to be an asshat and actually being an asshat. They're completely the same things, and indeed, we don't need anymore asshats. The world is full of asshats! There's a massive stockpile of asshats, we've got enough to last in the next millenium!" - Caitlin Moran
Don't pretend to be an asshat, because then you are an asshat. Instead, pretend to be what you want to be. (If you want to be an asshat, then I suggest that you rethink that goal.)
And if weird is who you are, then by God, be weird. I'll be your friend, I promise.
PS: If you'd like to listen to all of Caitlin's talk, go here!