While scurrying to work to teach my students the other day and trying not to trip on the cumbersome cobblestones, I heard myself yelling at myself. Again.
ME: You’re so embarrassing. Why did you do that?
me: Well, I was trying to walk fast to keep up with you, and—
ME: Why didn’t you wake up earlier?
me: I was tired.
ME: TIRED? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Tired is for losers. TIRED. Pffft. Hurry up! What are you — wait, what are you wearing??
me: My pants are too big and I tried to put this sweater over it like this, and—
ME: Seriously? God. Look at that girl. Look how cute she looks. You should look like her, not like…whatever you’re doing.
me: I know.
ME: Pay attention. I think that guy smiled at you.
me: Really?? Who?
ME: I don’t know why he would, though. He was probably smiling at the cute girl in the cute clothes.
me: You’re probably right. Can you slow down? My bag is heavy-
ME: Why didn’t you think of that sooner? You should have woken up earlier and left your stupid lap top at home. That was really dumb.
me: I know. You’re right. I should have—
If people could hear how I treat myself, they would stop on the street and stare at this abusive crab apple meaney yelling at her cowering child. Hell, I would stop and stare.
Which is what I’m sorta doing now:
Once upon a time, on the 780 bus in Los Angeles, a man got on. He was smiling. He looked “normal”, but, he wasn’t so normal. Turns out he had sh*t his pants. As he headed towards the back of the bus where I was sitting, you could see the wave of reactions, like domino’s falling, of the people holding their noses and gagging. The problem is not that he sh*t his pants – well yes, that is a problem, his problem, the bigger problem in my world is that I was the only one who didn’t jump up disgusted from the back of the bus while he approached. I looked at his green pants, full of…well, you can imagine. I just sat there because I saw how everyone else treated him and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. And then everyone started looking at ME like I was the weird one, the one not normal.
I’m not normal. I know this. I’m different. I’m the girl who likes to win by putting herself last.
I’m the one who consistently says, “That’s ok!” when it’s not. I’m the one who stands when everyone else sits. I’m the one that says, “Pardon!” twenty times a day while walking down the street and moving out of everyone else’s way.
My friend took me to the ballet as a lovely “Thank You” gift for an international favor I did for her. We think the same way and we both went to the wrong theater thinking it was right, so we had to rush through the chutes and ladders that is the Prague metro system to get to the show on time. She is from New York. I watched her barrel through people on the escalators like a linebacker (and she is a petite girl) and I was in awe! I ran behind her, still saying “Pardon, Pardon” as we knocked into people…but I admired her chutzpah. I admired her being first rather than second-best.
I like who I am. I like that I help people, I like that I smile at people and l even don’t mind that I take the smaller piece of cake when I really wanted the big one. What I don’t like is that I do this at my own expense. I don’t like that I tell myself and treat myself like I don’t matter as much the next person. I don’t like that I treat myself like someone who doesn’t work hard. I don’t like that I passively accept what’s given rather than demanding (or even asking nicely for) what I deserve. Because, drum roll, please… I’m the girl who doesn’t acknowledge her worth. Tah-dah!
So, I’m taking a moment. My eyeballs are narrowed, my nose is scrunched… like when you open the fridge because something, somewhere in the depths of the box stinks to the high heavens and you say, “Where is that coming from?!?”
I don’t know about you, but we didn’t always have a whole lot growing up and I’m the oldest kid. I was taught to be self-sufficient. To make something out of nothing. To sometimes accept less. And to not complain about it. (Some of you have probably felt the same??) I think somehow, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve either taken this a little too far, don’t know when to say “When!”, or have simply made it a habit. But, if this is habit, then that means I have a chance to make it an unhabit. Like an un-cola.
So, I’m workin’ on it. I’ve opened the fridge. I’m throwing out the slimy brown lettuce on the second shelf behind the gouda…and hoping that was it. In the meantime, I’m going to imagine that I have a little roll of duct tape in my pocket (it will have rainbows and butterflies on it, of course). And I’m going to use that duct tape on grouchy ME. And the new conversations held while walking down the brilliant cobblestone streets, upon which I deserve to be walking, will go something like this:
me: Wow, you look really nice today. Like, a-maz-ing!
ME: (duct taped) grlzjljglhga!!
me: Stop it, you. Oh. Hey Peppur, you did a really NICE job on that lesson today.
ME: llrfhs!! Lsjohhna! Hoslsssl….
me: I said, stop it!
me: Pep! Pep! That guy is looking at you; hurry, smile!
And the next day I’ll say:
me: Hey! You wrote something today! You’re a great writer. Congratulations!
And the next day after that, I’ll say:
me: You saved up and bought yourself some new shoooooees!
And the next after the next, I’ll shout:
me: You did it! You live in Prague. Wow! I’m so proud of you.
We know the duct tape will find a way to be ripped off one day, and this will happen:
ME – YOU SUCK!! YOU SUCK SO BAD, MAN! SUUUUUUCCCK! SUUCCKK!
But I hope I’ll be able to walk ahead, with myself in front, first and say,
me – Oh shut up, already.
Because I’ll know I’m the girl who is #Winning!
Psss, because I am who I am and I wouldn’t be here without you, I wish you loads of #winning days as well; if you need some duct tape, I will send you some.