I’m a bit overwhelmed by it…the change in perception I’m experiencing.
I’m somewhere between wanting to cry (for reasons I don’t know) and bubbling over with joy.
I’ve got to first thank my Girls on the Run family. You all know me. We know each other. When I started Girls on the Run 16 years ago, I knew deep in my heart that one day the program would impact millions of girls. I also believed that changing the world was possible. I’d changed my own small piece of it when I experienced a shift in my perspective when I got sober in 1993.
There was something very humbling about sharing my past. It took me a long time to feel safe enough within my own thoughts, to share my story. The fear of not being accepted, loved or valued was overwhelming…enough to keep me safe within my life-secrets. But one of our core values at Girls on the Run is to lead with an open heart…and while I don’t believe it is necessary to air all our, what some might term as “dirty laundry” in public, I think there is a power in sharing our humanity, with those close to us. So when I shared with my Girls on the Run family the story of my life, you received me with open arms, open hearts and a love like I had never known existed.
It is this sharing of our humanness that has struck me to my core, with this project. To admit that something as seemingly unimportant as leaving the house withour curling our eyelashes or putting on red lipstick,. hits right to the core of our vulnerability. I’ll admit that for some people, this seems laughable, but for many women (including myself) it’s embarrassing to admit that these things are hard to give up.
Being “pretty” has been an important part of my identity. I’m well aware that dressing a certain way and doing it up has made my life easier in some ways. As Jane, a woman I have known for years, said to me yesterday, “This is easy for you. You’ve got nice features. You are young. I know I am not attractive and so I have to use make up to give my face some help.”
Jane is in her 70’s. We talked for quite some time. She talked a lot. I got the sense that she wanted to be heard. She talked about the men in her life and how “putting herself together” showed a level of respect for them. “I think it’s important for a woman to be her prettiest.”
I heard her.
While at first the conversation may have been about make-up, it slowly evolved into something else. It became an experience…a tender, loving series of flowing moments through which she could, for once, talk about being a single woman in her 70’s…talk about her fears around growing older, losing her “beauty,” fears of being alone and becoming invisible.
We got underneath all the BS, and saw something else in each other. Something that has been there all along, but that is hard to find when we are trying so hard to prove our worth or look like we have it so together.
I’m beginning to see that for me and the Jane’s of the world, make up (in addition to a number of other actions I take) has been like scotch tape…something to hold me together…to hold together the not yet wounded ego I’m afraid I might experience if I tell you the truth…that sometimes I’m scared or angry or not so together as I appear; that sometimes I yell at my children when they don’t deserve it; that sometimes I want to sleep all day because I’m in a bad mood or someone has hurt my feelings; that sometimes I worry until I’m nearly sick about my teenaged children; that sometimes I’m afraid of not measuring up to the expectations I carry as the founder of an organization, an organization in the business of encouraging girls to be strong, empowered and real.
I know that I am not alone. I know this because I’m human…and part of this human experience is, at one time or another in our lives, wrestling with our ego and finding balance between the human experience and the spiritual one. It’s all beautiful…every minute of the process. 🙂
I’m sitting in a Caribou coffe shop and amazed by how long it has taken me to write this post.
I’ve been amazed by a lot of things lately…and for that…I am immensely grateful.
Have you ever been aware of going through some kind of mindset-shift or transformation in perspective? What was it? What happened?
(My co-traveler Caitlin is going through some of the same (but different) things I am. Read about it at www.healthytippingpoint.com.)