This post reflects something that I have been thinking about for awhile now. It all started early this past summer when Jordan, Riley and I took a trip to Nashville, Tennessee to visit some good friends.
I was swimming in the pool with my friend Julie and her little guy Conner (Riley’s future husband. Although, she seems to have a different love interest right now, Israel. We’ll see what happens! Stay tuned in like… 35 years). I don’t really know what we were talking about when I changed the subject and asked Julie what had been on my mind for most of the trip. “Is it ever hard living here [in Nashville]? I love this city, but everyone is just so attractive, I would think that I would really struggle with wanting to ‘keep up’ or with comparing myself to everyone. I mean, almost every woman I’ve seen is trendy, blonde, tanned, and toned. I’m a bit intimidated.” Her response surprised me, “That’s funny because I’ve always seen you that way.”
What shocked me the most was not that she responded that way, but the realization other’s may see me as the exact person that I am intimidated by! The very person that makes me feel like I don’t add up, the person that I compare myself to and strive to look like is… me! What? How did this happen? How do I see something different in the mirror then what other people see when they look at me? When did I become the person that intimidates me? Do I intimidate others?
I don’t exactly know the answer to those questions but here is one thing I do know: I don’t want to be her. I don’t want to be the woman who other women feel they can’t touch, they can’t know, can’t be, and can’t get close to. I don’t want to be an image that intimidates, lies, sneers, and taunts.
Now, don’t hear what I am not saying. I am NOT saying that trendy, blonde, tanned, toned women are all intimidating or that they lie, sneer, or taunt and you cannot get close to them. No no no no no. Nor am I saying that I am that way (I’m not very toned right now, and if I’m tan, it’s from a bottle. Also? I’m not really blonde.) I’m not saying that anyone is or ever has been intimidated by me.
Hear what I am saying: I’m saying that the kind of person I want to be is someone you can know, get close to, learn from, resonate with, encourage, is vulnerable, real, speaks truth and wisdom, lifts up, encourages, and walks side-by-side through life with others. And yet I find myself often building up the things in my life that would lead me to being the opposite. But I don’t really want to be that person!
I want to be like Elizabeth Banks. Well, not necessarily her, I know nothing about Elizabeth Banks. I’m talking about her character in the movie “What to Expect when You’re Expecting.”
Spoiler Alert (!): If you are dying to see this movie (not sure why you would) because you think it will be really good (it’s not) and don’t want to know what happens (it’s no huge mystery), DON’T READ ON because I am about to tell you what happens.
Basically, Elizabeth Bank’s character (Wendy Cooper) has difficulty getting pregnant and tries for a long time before conceiving. When she finally does get pregnant, it is not the beautiful, blissful, glowing experience that she always dreamed it would be. Instead it was a sweaty, uncomfortable, heartburn filled experience. Her character’s shining moment in the movie was when she was speaking at an event for pregnant women, is a sweaty mess (literally) and confesses live that pregnancy is hard and that her’s has been anything but idyllic. She gets real with them. And what happens? Women love it! The video goes viral on youtube, and women all over the world feel like they have a friend and sister. Why? Because they can relate to her. Because instead of trying to stand up on a pedestal, she is just one of them and her non-togetherness and vulnerability invite other women to let their hair down and be real too.
Then there is Brooklyn Decker’s character. She is the woman on the pedestal. She has the idyllic pregnancy. She gets pregnant when she wasn’t even trying, feels great, looks great, and makes sure that everyone knows it. Even in the hospital while giving birth she looks and acts like a model. She’s nice to look at. But you can’t relate to her. Everything is perfect. You can’t tell her about your mess and hard stuff without feeling stupid, and you don’t want to be her friend.
I’d rather be Elizabeth Banks. I don’t want to strive to be a Brooklyn Decker. I don’t want to paint onto myself an image that is worshipped and envied by other women. I don’t want to live in Facebook and Instagram world, projecting an image of a constantly happy life that you could tie a ribbon around. I want to live in and project my real life.
Today, I live in an apartment where I constantly trip over baby toys, I’m not wearing any makeup, and I’m sitting in a pile of tissues (because I’m sick. I don’t normally sit in a pile of tissues. Also? Being a mom sure is awesome, but it doesn’t always feel awesome, and you can’t take a sick day). But I want to live in this life, I want to be this woman, and I want to let other people see her too.
I’m thankful for this blog and the way that it has allowed me to do something I enjoy (write), while also being real about who I am and the nitty gritty, not always beautiful parts of life. I’m thankful for the opportunity to open up about things that have been hard for me and thankful that, in doing so, I have connected with many new and old friends who think and feel the same way. Thank you, readers, for allowing me to be the mess that I sometimes am and for encouraging me, relating to me, and often sharing with me in return.