Random side note: One thing I miss about grad school is writing papers. Egads, I know. An absurd appeal in writing Literature research papers is titling them, and including a “sexy subtitle.” So today’s post title is an ode to my Literature research days. Thanks for humoring me.
Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that part of my experience with Whole30 was getting comfortable putting my foot down and standing up for myself? That simple 30-day dietary reset proved to be a catalyst for examining how I show up in the world. I started thinking about how I make a fuss, make noise, and take up space.
So. It started with the Whole30, when I realized something along the lines of “God, Al, you’re being kind of high strung about all this.” There’s nothing casual about the program. You have to be firm on exactly what you will and will not eat, there’s no “winging it.” So I got picky, I got particular, and kind of adamant. At first I really didn’t like it. Who doesn’t want to be the “cool girl” who just goes with the flow? But that wasn’t part of the program. Sticking to a regimen like that, especially in the face of social events and repeated questioning, changes you somewhat. It takes perseverance. So I embraced it.
I recently bought a used Triumph Bonneville motorcycle. It’s a beauty, and it’s big. 865cc engine big. I could travel across the country on it. It has a bright chrome duel exhaust with a big growl. It’s unequivocally a badass bike. Whenever I start it up in the garage I always think, “well, there goes the neighborhood.” The first few days I had my motorcycle home I was nervous about that exhaust. I like to be a conscientious neighbor, after all. Is this thing too loud? When I’m out in the street people can really hear this thing. It’s kind of obtrusive. But isn’t that the point? It’s not safe to BLEND IN on a motorcycle. That exhaust helps keep me heard, keep me seen, keep me safe. I realize that when I pull up next to someone on the road, I’m probably interrupting their texting or their phone call, and so much the better. And neighbor, I know on a sunny Saturday morning I should be doing yard work, but I’m hitting the road instead. Loudly.
A few times a week I head to a training facility in my neighborhood and put my body through its paces lifting heavy weights in all manner of ways. Because of that, I have developed an unexpected amount of physical strength, which I am ridiculously proud of. (And real life friends: I’m no longer apologizing for my repeated meathead conversations.) I worked hard for my accomplishments in the gym. Society says ladies are supposed to use the elliptical machine and the pink hand weights. They aren’t supposed to challenge their friends to chin up competitions. I make the joke that getting stronger is the closest thing to being a super hero as you can get. But in truth, getting physically stronger translates into every other aspect of life. Get big.
Where am I going with this?
Everyone knows motorcycles are loud and dirty, big muscles will make you look like a man, and if you’re strict about what you eat you’re probably a bitch. Wait, what?
The point is, I have to continually push myself against the grain to show up in the world. Ignore the noise, and really show up how I want, not just how I’m told. As girls we’re constantly given the message to settle down, play nice, go along, be amiable, kind at all costs. We definitely shouldn’t cause too much fuss or draw too much attention to ourselves. Especially not with unflattering opinions or demands. This wasn’t anything that was taught to me, but it’s crept in over the years. It’s just easier to be beige and polite. But hot damn if that isn’t a lousy way to exist.
Think about the ways you can SHOW UP in the world, show up by doing things that make you feel alive. Enough with status quo. In a world obsessed with fitting in, dieting down, and making people feel small, we need to be BIGGER. Bigger in strength, resilience, kindness, demands, and personality. And stop apologizing.