I think many girls, as they are growing up, are taught to be unhappy with who they are. Advertising agencies are too quick to tell us what is wrong with us and offer products that will make everything better. If we are too heavy, they have the diet products that will make us thin and beautiful. If we are too pale or too swarthy, they can fix that with cosmetics. If we are feeling lonely or unfulfilled, their fashions will transform us into the attractive, happy people we ought to be.
At school, many of us are given not so subtle messages about what it takes to fit in and be accepted by society. As young women, we are not supposed to be too pushy or too aggressive, to be too curious, too open, or too aggressive about our own sexuality. We are taught not to communicate what we want for fear of offending others.
What a great feeling it is to be getting a little bit older, and a whole lot wiser, and to finally be able to say, “To hell with that!”
I am the first person to admit that I am far from perfect — whatever that means. I have a host of deficiencies and excesses. Also, I am totally inconsistent in my defects. At any given time, I can be too hot headed, too shy, too outspoken, overly cautious, devil-may-care, outrageously extravagant, or overly cheap. I can be intolerant and dismissive of others’ ideas. Equally, I can be too deferential, too unwilling to fight for my ideas. When my father’s German blood is holding sway, I can be as stubborn as an ox. Sometimes, though, I am a real push-over.
I understand and acknowledge all of this. What I don’t have time for at this point in my life, though, are people who won’t accept me for the way I am, warts and all, or who want to sell me a new-improved version of myself. Being imperfect is part of the human condition. We are all complex, fault-ridden creations. But we are all unique and beautiful in our complexity. We are all works in progress, and hopefully we are trying to achieve a sense of fulfillment based on our own personal quest and struggle. Along the way, what we need from others — and most importantly, from ourselves — is the respect we all deserve.