Still it's hard though because you never know for sure the response you'll get. And it makes me feel vulnerable to admit to some of these feelings. It's like that Anna Nalick song:
"And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to"
I've actually been thinking about writing this post for quite some time. I've even started writing it once or twice. But never could really get it all out, finding it difficult to put into words everything I was feeling.
But then last night I felt like I took 3 punches straight to the gut, and that's when I knew it was finally time to sit down and finally get it all out.
I may be mistaken but I think, in general, that women struggle more with feelings of inadequacy. I think we struggle to feel accepted, to feel valued, to feel good enough. We struggle with the need to know our place in this big, vast world, we all yearn to know that we have something to give, that somehow our lives make a difference. We want to be noticed and appreciated.
For me this struggle intensified once I made the choice to be a stay at home mom. I've always been a highly driven individual and was always a top student in school. So I became accustomed to praise and recognition. The same accomplishment followed me into my early career. I had always planned on having a long, highly successful career.
But then this came into my life.
And after 1 year of being a working mom, I decided to come home, turning my back on the successful career I had imagined for myself.
Ironically, or maybe not so ironically, my last day of work was also the day I found out that she was on the way.
So while the internal struggle to feel good about myself is always brewing just below the surface once in a while something happens that makes keeping the struggle at bay so much harder.
Like the night I went to my neighborhoodbook group a few weeks ago. I sat there all night thinking about how I have lived here 5 years now and only in the past few months have I been invited to join book group. Yet, there were women sitting in the room who had only moved into the neighborhood in the past year who have already been invited to join. It seems such a small, insignificant detail but it really bothered me all night. Made me feel like just wasn't as cool or fun or intelligent or as likable or as something. Because if I was, they would've been dying to have me in book group 5 years ago!
Or the day I ran into a former co-worker. She asked me "So what have you been up to." And the only answer I could come up with was the highly eloquent, "just being a mom." All the while thinking of all the things I WISHED I could've said. "I went back to school and just got my Master's Degree." or "I just published my first book." or "The Today show just hired me to be a local roving reporter." or "I just got back from a trip to Scotland." Truly just about anything would've been better than my actual answer of "just being a mom." Somehow it just didn't seem like enough.
Last night I got 3 such hits, one right after the other. I didn't even have time to recover from 1 before the next hit.
It started with the evening's church activity. Ironically, it was an activity intended to help the women of our congregation overcome just such feelings. The evening was called "an evening with the stars" and each women in attendance was awarded that spotlighted something unique about that women. It was meant to be an opportunity for us to get to know each other better and to honor each other's achievements. It was a wonderful idea, in theory. But the execution was a little weak.
You see, I clapped along enthusiastically as my friends and fellow women received their awards. But I must admit (and I'm embarrassed to admit!) that I was quite disappointed with my own. You see, I was given an award for boing "Mrs. Tidy Bowl" And I was confused as to why this would be my award. It suddenly felt like despite all the casual kindness shown to me over the years that nobody really knew me. It seemed apparent that they were at a complete loss as to who I really am and decided to give me some random title that they pulled out of a hat. And that hurt almost worse than not getting anything at all.
Because my toilets are not the cleanest thing in my house, I'll be the first to admit. I hate cleaning the bathrooms and I put them off as long as I possibly can. Vacuuming on the other hand I am fanatical about. It my favorite chore and so I do it often. Dyson Diva would've been an appropriate title. Or Flickr Fanatic. Or Blogging Babe. Or Crock Pot Queen.
The point is, to somebody how REALLY knows me there are about a million other titles that would've been more appropriate than Mrs. Tidy Bowl. And it was such a stupid, insignificant thing to be upset over but it unnerved me just the same.
So what do I do? Go home and watch the Olympics. And if seeing 16 year olds win gold medals, or seeing Michal Phelps make Olympic history by getting his 11th Gold Medal doesn't make you feel just a little insignificant, well then you're just not normal. (oh wait, perhaps I'm the not normal one....there's something to think about)
Once Prime time coverage of the Olympics ended and the local news began I was greeted from Bejing by the smiling face of a girl I went to school with. A girl who was a year behind me. I was the TA for her Newscast class. And SHE was in Bejing reporting on the Olympics, and I was sitting at home eating chocolate and feeling sorry for myself. It was too much for one night and stole away to the upstairs bathroom to cry.
I had recovered a bit by this morning, no longer feeling the need to cry. But the internal struggle still brews just beneath the surface. Maybe it always will.
In the meantime, I hope and pray none of the neighborhood women come by today and ask to see my toilet....because I'm afraid they will be highly disappointed.