Some days are just bad days. The days that doubt sneaks in through a judgmental comment. The days when your mind snags a tiny thread of evidence that you’re not good enough and your confidence quickly unravels. The days where your self-worth teeters on the edge of everyone else’s opinions. The days when finding the up side of down seems monumentally impossible.
Yesterday was that kind of day.
It started out just fine – plenty of coffee and potential. But then I let someone else’s story hijack my happiness.
Recently I auditioned for a local production of writers, reading their own original work on motherhood. And, while I know nothing about motherhood, I know everything about wanting it and the pain of never getting it.
My story wasn’t chosen, and I was fine with that. Oddly relieved, really. The thought of sharing my perspective in person, out loud for an audience to hear, terrified me. But it also stirred something inside of me. Something that may connect with people who have lived a similar journey as mine. Something that led me to be brave and put myself out there.
But that same courageous something was not quite as “fine” with rejection when I read about myself through someone else’s eyes…
“I noticed the four other women auditioning were in their 40s and 50s. They wore conservative department store outfits, had easy to manage hairstyles, and were a little overweight. Even the ladies putting the show together were similar to that ‘average mother genre.'”
Suddenly I was not so freaking fine. I was mad. Then sad. Then as judgy about myself as this stranger was about me.
These words were found on the blog of one of the talented writers that were chosen for the show. This particular writer has a similar story of struggle as mine, and I know how painful that struggle can be.
Let me be clear: I am not upset about not being selected. I am upset about being misunderstood, not fully seen, and pegged all wrong.
I know that I am one of those four women she described, because she also described herself in her post. I very clearly remember her leaving the audition room while I was seated in one of those rickety folding chairs, waiting for my turn.
As I read her words, I immediately began grasping for contradictory facts. I am 40-something, so nothing to contradict there. But I was wearing a vibrant pink sweater set, a turquoise scarf, some slightly faded and fitted jeans, and some seriously edgy, pointy toed, hot pink boots. I wasn’t dressed like a Sears catalog model. I was dressed like I dress – classy with a touch of sass, for Christ sake!
And let’s talk about my hair. It’s kind of my signature “thing” I like to think. It is long and blonde and not particularly common or “easy to manage”. Oh, and my weight – let’s go ahead and go there. My weight lands me in the “normal” range for my height, but is always on my mind. And apparently on the minds of others as well, as if I needed one more reason to feel insecure about my weight.
So, as I was mentally defending my style and personal appearance and nursing the sting of the snap – and snappish – judgements, my confidence crumbled beneath my cheerful exterior. Inside I felt not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not young enough. Not thin enough. Not talented enough. Not anything enough.
I am not part of the “average mother genre” that I had been erroneously lumped into. I am not a Mom at all. Even though that is all I ever wanted to be. Even though my appearance may indicate otherwise. Even though I would gladly trade in my savvy style for a saggy pair of mom jeans and a Dorothy Hamill haircut if it would change the outcome of my story.
I, like so many of you, have been misjudged and misunderstood. And yesterday I felt that deep within my soul. But isn’t that just the best reminder to all of us to look deeper than the surface?
How about this ladies…
Let’s learn the real stories before making up our own. Let’s leave our assumptions at the door. Let’s celebrate each other instead of comparing and competing. Let’s lift one another up. Let’s withhold judgement. Let’s be supportive and encouraging. Let’s include others instead of excluding them. Let’s not define people by their appearance. Let’s live and let live. And please let us love each other.
And THAT my friends, is finding the UP side of down.