It’s International Women’s Day. A day set aside to honor women as the smart, strong, successful species that we are. I have plenty of women in my life that are unbelievable and do amazing things. I can completely acknowledge and recognize that in other women, but most of the time I feel like the water girl standing on the sidelines watching all these amazingly intricate creatures conquer the world. Let me explain…
I knew who I was when I was younger; a somewhat tomboyish girly-girl. I wore mom’s lipstick, her heels, had princess birthday parties and all things pink and Lisa Frank. I also would sometimes refuse to wear dresses, didn’t understand why I couldn’t stand up to pee, was the only girl on my baseball team for 3 years and had a birthday party at the local laser-tag arena. By high school the two sides blended as the front closet filled with colorful heels, mom had to do a separate load of laundry just for my pinks, my evenings were spent at some sort of sports practice every night and when I wasn't hanging out with my boyfriend you could find me playing 007 on my PlayStation with dad. I had long blonde hair, could still squeeze into single-digit jeans, and minus just a tiny bit of high school body image issues, I felt pretty good about myself. In my high school world, I knew who I was. I was a successful athlete. I did fine in school. I was involved in all sorts of activities and clubs. I had good friends. I was happy.
Now I’m 30. And as I look around at my world, I start to wonder who I am and where I fit in. I see women I know that graduated from college and are working on their masters. They somehow have time to run their own businesses or absolutely crush it at their jobs, make it to the gym and always look like they’ve just left the salon. They volunteer at church, get dinner on the table and then tuck their three-year-old in before settling down on the couch with their equally successful husband to flip through the baby name book for the 2nd bun that’s in the oven. And you know what? I'm so jealous. I have a hard time not comparing myself to her. I have a hard time not letting the thoughts creep in and flood my mind that somehow my worth is ‘less than’ because I didn’t complete one of the umpteen bachelor degree programs I started. I don’t have a prestigious or meaningful occupation. I am a long way from the single-digit jeans I wore in high school, and because my body can’t do the one thing as woman it was created to do, I have therefore failed my husband and failed at life. I feel like an uneducated, untalented, overweight, failure of a female. I heard that ‘Amen’ from the back and I see you nodding your head. Some of you are feeling the same, in one way or another.
So on this day when your newsfeed is flooded with posts about strong, successful women, I want to acknowledge those of you who are feeling weak in comparison. Your worth is not held in a diploma hanging on an office wall. You are more than the number on a scale or the size of your pants. You are worth more than the number of groups you’re a part of or your supposed social status. Your identity is not determined by your broken parts and for those of you walking the same path I am; your fertility does not define your femininity. I think I needed to put those words down on paper more for myself than anything, because sister, I am still desperately trying to work on believing all those statements.
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
-Kathryn Stockett, The Help
Cheers to you, lady. May your weaknesses make you stronger, your battles make you wiser, your relationships make you full, and your braveness bring you to tomorrow.