I am a creature of habit. About this time, year after year, I more than yearn for spring...I twitch. The long-lasting effects of winter, snow, grey permeate my psyche for more than the season; and come March, my sunshine antsy-ness morphs into a whirling dervish creation of new projects that have been dormant under winter’s gloom.
Every March, I kid you not, with the idea of a new, springy beginning, part of me thinks I am Wonder Woman and can tackle a bazillion projects at one time. This year is no exception. However this year, Mother Nature decided she wanted me, and all of us living in the Midwest, to keenly remember it is still winter by continually, and erratically dumping mounds of the white stuff. Thanks, Mama Nature for the cold slap in the face.
But maybe this reminder is really okay. For I am reminded that spring isn’t here yet; that I can’t do it all; that I am not Wonder Woman. And really, why do I, and many other women out there, have this misguided thought of what “the perfect woman” looks like? This not-only-should-she-bring-home-the-bacon-and-fry-it-up,-but-get-it-on-sale,-prepare-it-while-wearing-size-four-Gucci-suits-and-size-six-Louboutin-pumps,-serve-it-up-with-a-meaningful-discussion-on-global-warming,-all-with-a-smile-on-her-face idea of “perfection” is more than unattainable; it is lunacy. Lunacy because as most multitasking women (which is pretty much most women) know, it is possible to do all this, but the real question is: Should we even try? What is the cost of engaging in such über I-can-do-it-all behavior? What is the cost of all the time spent measuring yourself against something (or someone) rather than investing in all the discoveries that make you, you? Higher anxiety? Depression? Should we continue setting ourselves up to fail when come April you discover you aren’t Wonder Woman, but in fact a human being who can’t dodge everything that comes at you with your magic bracelets; run away on your invisible plane at a moment’s notice when things get tough, and can’t solve all the bad stuff in 30 minutes?
I think even Wonder Woman would tell you something’s got to give (because let’s face it, that invisible plane thing isn’t coming anytime soon). And I think it’s appropriate to ask yourself why would you want to strut around in that corset-type getup frying bacon anyway? Is it to please others, or yourself? If you like it that way, then by all means keep doing what you’re doing. But if you suddenly feel pressure because your plate is full of bacon that you may not have necessarily put there, it’s time to start lightening the load. I’m not saying rid yourself of all bacon, because bacon makes everything better, I’m merely saying get in tune with how much bacon you can handle to be happy and stop measuring yourself against something (or someone) that isn’t good for you.
Are you surprised to learn I don’t fry my bacon in a Gucci suit or Louboutin pumps? Probably not. While I think both are lovely fashion statements, I prefer preparing my bacon in my faded jeans and Chuck Taylors. My bacon tastes better this way because I am comfortable. But this wasn’t always the case. There was a time in my younger years that I foolishly thought I had to look a certain way, every day, before I left the house in order to project a “perfect woman” definition to a society that set the rules. I’d put the fashion get ups on to emulate what I saw in magazine’s or storefronts in an effort to attain what these images were really selling…happiness.
I spent my time, wasted a lot of time, perfecting the simulation rather than discovering what I did enjoy or what was comfortable for me. I bought into, hook-line-and-sinker, the idea that it was better to look good than feel good. I chose perception over reality. If my feet were killing me in those heels, rather than take them off I told myself I was a stronger woman for being able to keep them on and look good. If I missed out on going out with friends to an impromptu movie or dinner because it would take me too long to get ready, I told myself that was better than being out and not looking my best. While friends had all these fun experiences, I stayed home perfecting my perfection projection. I seriously did this. How stupid. How lonely. How uncomfortable.
So this March, while I still have the twitch to get started on all the projects that came to mind during the grey, I am pacing myself. I’m shedding the need to morph myself into a bacon-loving Wonder Woman in order to fit this society-sold idea that strong women can do it all. Because I know strong women know when to stand up…and when to sit down. They know to pick their battles. They know being strong means staying true to yourself and not letting someone else define their own happiness. They know they set their own tone. Strong women don’t measure themselves against other women…they celebrate all strengths.
Don’t get me wrong, I still created a long to-do list; but this year, instead of setting myself up to fall into a depression when I don’t cross off everything, I am picking a reasonable number of things to take on in an effort to be more comfortable. I am redefining what I need to do to enjoy my bacon and feel like Wonder Woman at the same time on my terms, not society’s.
One of the projects is a happy surprise. For for a few years now, in the back of my mind, I have wanted to script a children’s story that revolves around the notion of a boy who loves pink. I have personal experience with this and wanted to create a story that celebrated the happiness pink, and any color, affords in an effort to strip the gendering of color. But I have been stuck with finding the right vehicle and words to share what I wanted to express. That is, until, I had an unexpected moment with my Foodie SB.
In one of our recent texting conversations, he shared how he appreciated and celebrated his non-threating appearance because it leads to the results he wants in his profession. To illustrate this, he said his boss called him (in a good way), “shlubby;” where he may come across as an unassuming hedgehog, but in reality he can be a ferocious honey badger. Trust me, this is a good thing. So for Valentine’s Day I took a picture of a plush hedgehog and sent it to him with the note, “Happy Valentine’s Day.” And when I saw the photo, something clicked for my pink story. Once I hit send, I ran to my computer and starting scripting what I now call, “Balthazar The Pink.” I had to run, because the story came to me so fast. An hour later I not only had my story, but the outline for the photos I wanted to help convey the story’s message. Proof that you never know when inspiration may hit.
This is the second children’s story I have written. I wrote my first story about a year and a half ago and am editing the illustrations with my mom, whom is a wonderful artist. Like “Balthazar,” I had the overall idea of what I wanted to write for at least a year before the concept hit me out of the blue. And what I am starting to see as a pattern, when it arrived, I had to run to the computer and was done in about an hour. Not sure why the stories happen like this, but I have learned to be thankful when they do come. But it is a project that has yet to be finished. It is a project that has been sitting dormant in the winter, awaiting spring’s sunshine.
So put these two writing projects and a half-marathon on my personal Wonder Woman list and I’m good. I don’t need to find things to add to my list because society says my list needs to be longer. I don’t need to see your list to see if mine measure’s up. I’m good. I’m comfortable. I’m Wonder Woman in faded jeans and Chuck Taylors.
Here’s hoping this spring, we can all redefine what being the perfect woman means…one project, one BLT at a time.
As always, stay comfy; and be good to yourself and all your Sunday Boyfriends.