when i was a little girl i didn’t always do very well in art, even though it was my favorite subject. not only being my favorite, i was practically a child-career coloring contest winner. :) at home i could hardly be pulled away from my art corner, i have always been an artistic and creative person. in third grade i remember i got a “check-plus” instead of a “plus” on my report card. in the comments section i remember that miss t, my favorite teacher wrote, “she spends too much time comparing her work to others, she needs to take more risks”.
taking risks is particularly unnerving for me because it was not a habit i developed as a child. while i am a smart and decently confident person (i don’t really know how to assess confidence for a little person female my age) it usually takes me a short time to make a decision or form an opinion that doesn’t matter greatly and a long time to make a life decision. while i can quickly tell you if i like that sweater or this one, my thoughts about a film, and come up with some kind of sassy quip, it is a belaboring process for me to make a more important decision.
usually i ask every other person what they think i should do and feel anxious until the decision is made. i have noticed lately that the decision i make is most usually belabored because i don’t trust my gut or emotions and have to make sure it is rational and others approve.
i was thinking today about why i feel guilty at times for having opinions, especially strong and sassy ones. later tonight, when we were at my dad’s girlfriend’s condo (next door) he seemed to frown if i said anything sassy or anything that was to the beat of my own drum. he is allowed to say whatever he wants but if i disagree, it appears to be disrespectful. growing up, i felt ashamed of my opinions and that i was surely not ladylike, beautiful or desirable because i knew what i wanted out of life. because opinions come so naturally for me, this has led to a constant battle of me feeling bad for being a free thinker and a free spirit.
this has only been exacerbated by growing up and learning that the men and women in power have made big “mistakes” (to use “christian” terminology). they write these rules for your life (no sex before marriage being one of them) tack on a bible verse and heavy-handedly pass it along. when you are of age and find out they never stuck to their own “rules”, you wonder why you wasted so much of your life caring what people think. caring about what god thinks is another thing in particular, although that usually is a far more grace-filled approach. because your parents were automatically on a pedestal and now grown up you are seeing all their human flaws, it seems natural for a person to then question all the times they were filled with self-doubt.
when i think back to one of the primary messages i think girls are taught, at least in christian homes, the verb “imitate” comes to mind. girls imitate princesses, play dress-up, put on makeup and try to be miniature women. i’m sure boys do the same thing with their fathers or a male role model, but i think girls are taught to imitate others thoughts as well. boys imitate men’s behaviors by playing with trucks and horsing around but so far i haven’t seen a boy doubt his own thoughts and opinions the way i see girls doing so.
nannying i have seen girls ask me, “do you think this looks okay” or “how do you think i am doing” or “what do you think i should do” frequently. i understand that girls are probably innately more relational and at times nurturing and that is a beautiful thing. but i do not understand why girls are supposed to doubt themselves and their own ability to think, act and live.
if i am blessed enough to have children, particularly if i have a daughter, i hope to instill in her the self-assurance to know that she is more than capable of making a decision that is right for her. that she is smart and savvy and that she doesn’t always need to go to others for approval and affirmation. girlfriends are a treat to have and it is great to know when you are in over your head and ask for advice. but you don’t need to doubt your own brain and intuition.
i’m not sure what i will teach her about sex, but i know i want guilt to never be a part of her decision. mutual respect and commitment i think are important factors when deciding when you’re ready, but i’m not even sure the bible (if that is your guide to living) is all that clear.
am i the only girl out there like this? tell me your story, for i fear i am alone. this all came tumbling out after 1 in the morning, so forgive any run-on’s and grammatical errors. :-) i didn’t edit it.