Not Like Other Girls

Not Like Other Girls

We’ve heard it all before. Whether it was from the Manic Pixie Dream Girl in another John Green novel or from an anonymous Typical Girl Twitter account. We’ve also potentially been guilty of using this sentiment. A way out. An excuse. A validation. A plea. A retort. When, yes, when did it become so wrong to “be like other girls”?  An accusation thrown at half the population, a harsh, stringent sentence to the generalization of a crowd. Why has the simple act of existing as a gender pushed us against a wall and thrown us into a pigeonhole? When a female oh-so-non-chalantly echoes this “I’m not like OTHER girls” what does she really mean? Who are these other girls we’re so desperately fighting off?

When did the word girl become synonymous with catty, gossiping, high-maintenance, mean, crazy, etc. etc. etc.? All these stereotypes when we’ve proven again and again as a gender, as a group, as a complex pile of beings we are not so simply put. Because that’s not how humans work. We are not easily categorized. We are not a list of our likes, dislikes, hobbies, beliefs, habits, pastimes, favorites, in a mathematical equation all adding up to the answer to a question. We are not one dimension, not much in life is. We are complicated creatures, good, bad and ugly. We all exist as so. As human beings, sometimes we are often many of those bad things and sometimes we are worse.  Man, woman, other. Imperfect. And also everything. And we’re tired, exhausted, of fighting off the assumptions of our genders.

We can like sports or hate sports or have one-night stands or not have one-night stands or watch Star Wars or not watch Star Wars or wear makeup or not wear make up and live a lot.

This is not a political statement. This is not a defamation of a singular thought group. This is a truth I would want my future daughter to know. Please don’t be afraid to “be like other girls“. Don’t be afraid to not. There is no right answer and there is no one type. Don’t attempt to validate your choices to others. Don’t fight your teammates. This is not a competition, you can’t win like this. We can all be good. 

Rewrite the synonyms. Change the antonyms. Make sense of the words.

It’s okay to be “like other girls”. Ambitious. Excited. Confused. Powerful. Brave. Intelligent. Bold. Growing. Changing. Learning. Human.

Voices

Voices

Our entire lives are narrated by a voice in our head that sounds kind of like us. Sometimes its quieter than others, sometimes you might forget to notice that it’s there. The voice that notices. The voice that dictates. The voice that compares and contrasts our appearances, our accomplishments, our tragic flaws and faults with everyone that surrounds us. She/he has a lot to say and to be perfectly honest she/he is kind of a piece of crap. From the moment we open our eyes to the moment we close them we are narrated by this loud obnoxious attention-seeking voice screaming, screaming, screaming obscenities into our subconscious. You’re not good enough. He’s smarter than you are. These shorts make you look like a giant ice cream cone. She’s more easy to talk to than you are. Body goals. Hair goals. Relationship goals. Outfit goals. Life goals. Why aren’t you trying harder? Why aren’t you better? Do better. Try harder. Not enough. Not ever enough.

9 times out of 10 this voice is not nice to other people and it’s definitely not nice to us. And while a nice serving of self-awareness and constructive criticism works wonders, there’s a point where the voice takes over, shrieking demands we as humans can never meet. And it does not shut up. It gets louder and louder and louder until you can’t hear the music anymore. Before you fall asleep. When you walk into a room of strangers. After you get a test grade back. When you’re scrolling through Facebook. Penetrating our thoughts and holding our potential for ransom.

Talk back. Maybe quietly at first, but firmly, wholly. (also disclaimer: talking to yourself out loud in public not necessarily advised but you do you.) Stop tolerating disrespect, especially from yourself. We are our toughest critics. If we wouldn’t say it to someone else why do we say it to ourselves? We are all doing the best we can. That nagging, never pleased, always longing, incessant voice is not your own. It sounds a little like you. But the pitch is a bit off.

Please love yo’self. Heck, LIKE yourself. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again. The universe has a lot of great things. You’re one of them. Trees make air for you to inhale, the world has been brought perfectly together so you may exist. Shut off the voice screeching in your ear.

We’re stuck with ourselves our whole lives. We might as well make the most of it people. We will be good at a lot of stuff. We will suck at a lot of others. But we must love indefinitely without criteria. “In a society that profits from self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.” Think about how many industries could not exist without our frenzy of self-loathing, critical inner-voice-screaming ways. An economy based around getting thinner, stronger, smarter, richer, prettier. When is it ever enough? Odds are we probably won’t be live-changingly happier after we lose 10 pounds or make more money or get a new car. The greed drives on and the voice gets louder. Get brave. Get tired of it. Maybe even get a little lazy. This constant voice consumes our energy. Energy that could be of much better use if we love who we are and choose to help starving children or tell our friends thank you for existing or creating something bright and colorful instead of obsessively staring into a dirty mirror or imagining a theoretical line graph of what we would change about ourselves. In a competitive world we think of this voice as the force behind the will to improve. The tough love we need to compete successfully. But this voice is reaching a fever pitch and we’re not winning. We should not have to fight ourselves.  Look how much more powerful you are when you and your mind are on the same side. Imagine if we obsessed about the things we loved about ourselves instead of what we hate. Imagine how much better other people will treat you when you stop treating yourself like that. Yes, it is important to keep ourselves in check; be humble, realize our mistakes, learn a lot all the time but draw the line. Draw the line between constructive criticisms and just loud noise. Take what is valid and throw rest of that shiz away.

Loving yourself can come off a little Pinterest-esque but this is more than just Oprah talking. Studies suggest that those who have higher self-compassion are less at risk for developing depression or anxiety, as reported by the New York Times. Research also shows that loving yourself can help you become more optimistic, and students who place their self-worth on internal habits like moral values are less stressed and tend to perform better academically. Did you hear that in the back Type As? A study published in the journal Psychological Science found that recently divorced people who spoke compassionately toward themselves were happier and more fulfilled during the months following the divorce than those who spoke with self-criticism.

Fun fact: Self worth is vital to your happiness. “If you don’t feel good about you, its hard to feel good about anything else.” –Mandy Hale. It’s not selfish. It’s not self-centered. It’s not arrogance. It’s not narcissism. It’s valid and important and changes worlds.

When we lash out or hurt others it’s usually because of our own wobbly insecurity, that contaminated voice taking hold. From the roots of our evolution we choose: fight or flight. People who like themselves don’t feel the need to tell others how much they hate them or how fat they look in that dress. People who like themselves don’t seek the satisfaction of bringing others down. Do it for yourself. Do it for the rest of us. Change the tone, free yourself from that voice. You should go and love yourself. (–Justin Bieber, yeah we all saw that coming)selflove2.png