I’m just a girl
Guess I’m some kind of freak
‘Cause they all sit and stare
With their eyes
I’m just a girl
Take a good look at me
Just your typical prototype
Oh… I’ve had it up to here
Oh… am I making myself clear?
I’m just a girl
– No Doubt
I experienced one of those iconic movie moments this past weekend.
And it has haunted me ever since.
It is October. I love October. As much as I hate to admit it, and despite how guilty I feel when I say it, I absolutely love October. I love the relief of the cool air. I love how busy I am in October. I love the smells and the sights and most of all… the activities.
Every October, our little Hickory holds an Oktoberfest in the middle of the square downtown. I love Oktoberfest. As cheesy and silly and pitiful as that little festival is, it is one of the only things I like about living here. I love the smell of truck meat, fries, funnel cakes, cotton candy, and beer. It’s funny, because for someone who hates trinkets and chachkies as much as me, I sure do love walking around and taking in the sights. Who knows though, maybe it’s not the spiced nuts or the tacky aluminum art as much as it is the people-watching that lures me back year after year. Regardless, making a trip to Oktoberfest every fall is a tradition of mine.
Friday, I asked Kaley and Colby if they wanted to join Big and I for dinner and some festing. Mr. Big very recently accepted a new position with Big Blue Box and I wanted to celebrate. I was proud of him, “So, let’s go grab some cow,” I thought.
The kid loves some Outback. I know, right. He’s probably sampled the ass of every piece of cattle this side of the Mississippi. Yet, out of all the places that serve steak, he raves about Outback. Whatevs – Outback it was – and he was thrilled.
After dinner we made our way downtown. Big basically dragged me down to the beer tents near the “main stage.” (It’s Hickory, people. Our “main stage” consists of a parking lot, a more than lacking sound system, and a Journey cover band.) We met up with other friends, drank draft beer, and had a great time. But right as we were leaving someone touched my arm.
I turned to find my best friend from second grade standing before me.
And that’s the moment.
The movie moment I was telling you about. The moment where two people meet for the first time in a long time. Two people who took two different paths. Two people who no longer knew each other.
I will never forget the first thing she said to me.
When she walked up I was holding a beer. I asked Big to grab the beer from me so I could free up my hands and meet her little girl. As I passed the cup to him she said, “I didn’t know you drank.”
It was kind of odd.
It took me aback.
Why wouldn’t I drink?
I didn’t really know how to respond. “Yes. Yes, I drink,” I said. Then I realized how my response might have sounded. “Well, not heavily,” I stammered. Mumbling now, “… well, not recently, at least.”
And that was the truth. I hadn’t really drank excessively since that Saturday in May when I didn’t make it to the All-Star race. I never told you guys about this little incident, but I ended up playing a game that involved a military vest, electronic dice, and a time limit. Long story short, I drank six beers in 26 minutes (the first three beers were downed in the first four minutes) and soon after, was down for the count.
The truth is, Ballas, I really don’t drink that much. Of course, this website is packed full of tales of the tipsy, instances of the inebriated, and stories of the sloshed. And sure, more often than not it is myself I am ratting out to the world. But honestly, I really don’t drink that much.
Frankly, alcohol induced shenanigans make the most entertaining stories… and it just so happens, I’m in the storytellin’ business.
It was bizarre.
The whole conversation was weird.
I remember thinking, “Why are you blubbering? What’s wrong with you? You aren’t in high school anymore. You don’t have to be cool. You are more than old enough to have a drink. Get it together, MC.” But it only got worse from there.
Don’t get me wrong, our talk was a normal one (Well, aside from all of my social awkwardness. I’m not a good small talker. I don’t thrive in these sort of situations, I am awkward and self-conscious. It really is best if you just wave and keep on walking when you see me out in public.), but some of the things she mentioned really troubled me. For instance:
- She kept bringing up how she remembered I liked to sunbathe in my backyard.
- She brought up my modeling.
- She told me how great I looked. (Despite my having gained 20 pounds since high school.)
Finally, the nail in the awkward coffin was when she asked me if I wanted to hang out sometime, “Now, I’m not popular or anything…” she said.
What do you say to that?
I mean, it’s been six years since we were in school. Six. She had had a baby and had gotten engaged. I had graduated college and moved back home. Six years of life had passed us by and all she could say was she wasn’t “popular or anything”?
I muttered something back about how I was never really popular either. She disagreed. I shook off the comment and told her I was merely “popular by association”.
And that was the truth. Any one of my best friends could tell you how much I tried to remove myself from all things high school. Hell, during the last semester of my senior year I left school at 11:15 a.m. everyday. I literally went to school for three hours. How could I have even had the time to be popular?
Soon after the popular comment we parted ways and went home.
The conversation I had that night affected me so much I didn’t speak the entire way home.
A couple of weeks ago, while at the Southern Women’s Show with Momma, Sammy, and Mace, I told them that I had grown more and more self-conscious with age.
Momma and Sammy were surprised.
“That’s weird, because I’ve gotten more and more confident over the past few years,” Sammy said.
It is the truth.
I am more self-conscious now than I have ever been in my life.
I am almost obsessively self-aware, painfully self-conscious, and honestly, my confidence levels have taken a nose dive for the worst.
Why you ask?
Because of conversations just like the one written above.
Years ago, I spent the majority of my time wandering through life oblivious.
I never noticed people starring at me when I walked into a room. I never thought twice about the words tumbling out of my mouth. I never worried about how I was sitting, or standing, or speaking, or even what I was wearing.
I just lived.
As I got older, I learned better makeup tricks, I started to model a little, and I bought my “fake” boobs. I started to grow up and people started to notice…
I cannot tell you how many times people have said to me, “When I first saw you in [insert applicable place here] I just knew I was going to hate you. But then I got to know you and now I love you! You are hilarious!”
What a shitty thing to say to someone.
The first few times someone said something like that to me I thought it was funny. Then it turned into a game. Now, I realize, it is comments like those that has crippled my self-confidence.
Another one of my not-so-favorite phrases is,”You’re too pretty to be [insert applicable ending here].”
Really? Can that even happen? Can someone actually be too pretty to do something, live somewhere, be with a certain person, or work at a particular place? That is ridiculous!
I quickly realized that people cared so much more about how I looked than what I actually had to offer. I was having to work so hard for classmates, fellow employees, and friends-of-friends to see past my face and into my heart that I quit going out. I started to hate meeting new people. I loathed group projects. Those comments started to change me.
Ultimately, those types of comments changed my whole demeanor.
To this day, someone cannot compliment me without it cutting like a knife. Take Mr. Big for example. That man tells me I am beautiful, gorgeous, or “hawt” every single day of my life. And it drives me crazy.
Who does that?
Who cringes when someone they love tells them they are beautiful? (Especially after seven years together.)
This girl does.
The worst part of it is, I cannot figure out why. I cannot understand why my brain thinks even the most important people in my life only care about how I look.
It troubles me deeply for someone to remember me for superficial, trivial, shallow little things. It shakes me to my core to know that the things I listed above – sunbathing, modeling, and my looks – are the things some people remember the most about me. It drives me crazy that my face stops people from getting to know me or even giving me an opportunity to get to know them.
It pisses me off that I have to respond to things like, “Now, I’m not popular or anything…” because that is not the kind of girl I am. My life is not an endless box of rainbows and sunshine just because I look a certain way, or dye my hair a certain color, or buy my clothes from certain stores. I am not the kind of person who thinks I deserve anything more or better because of what I have and who I am.
Do you want to know who I am?
Well, for starters, I …
- Am over-analytical. I let things eat away at me until I am furious, or riddled with anxiety, or so upset I cannot think straight. Just yesterday, Big looked at me on our way home and said, “You let everything get to you, huh?” I do. I replay conversations over and over in my head trying to understand every bit of what was said. I drive myself crazy analyzing every little detail of every little thing.
- Would rather sleep in boy panties. Yes, on any given morning you could find me rolling out of bed in a t-shirt and an old pair of Big’s panties. (FYI – The underwear I speak of are pairs he has never worn because they were too small for him to begin with.) I know, it is weird. Don’t believe me? Well ask Momma… she does my laundry.
- Feel comfortable speaking to strangers and in front of large crowds. I am never bothered by presenting to a group or to management at work. However, I have a very hard time articulating myself when it comes to telling those I love the most just how much I care. I get embarrassed when I give my loved ones gifts or have to say I love or miss them. Even just saying “thank you” sometimes makes me nervous.
- Hate the way I look: When my hair is up, wet, just blow-dried, or in need of a good dye. When I wake up in the morning, after work, or in the winter. (And yes, just the winter in general.) The list could go on and on but I will spare you from further boredom. I wear too much make-up but I don’t have the balls to switch up my regimen.
- Have very bad anxiety. One or both of my legs are shaking a mile a minute at all times. When I was in high school (You know, and leaving at 11:15 a.m. everyday…) I would have to run to my car and actually be sitting inside of it before the third block bell rang. Everyday, at the same time, my head would start pounding and my throat would get tight just waiting for the clock to strike 11:10 a.m.
- Am bossy, and controlling, and commanding. I am a perfectionist. Sure, I may let you help me do this or that… but don’t think I won’t be going right back behind every step you make checking to see if it was done correctly.
- Consciously avoid watching, doing, listening, or reading anything that will upset me. For instance: I hate Rom-Coms. My favorite movies are ones like Goodfellas, Mobsters, Casino, and 300. As much as I have always wanted to go to the Holocaust museum, I refuse to. I know it will make me cry, affect me, make me sad, and then eventually, I will fall into a deep depression. I absolutely will not read those sappy Nicholas Sparks books. I read Jackie Collins novels. Not familiar with her? Look her up. I am not a crier. It makes me feel awkward and weird. I guess my controlling nature prevents any kind of vulnerability from breaking through.
- Obsess over sweets. I must have something sweet after every meal. I carry candy bars in my purse, I have cotton candy on my dresser at home, and there is a box of Teddy Grahams and a bag of Reese’s Miniatures in my filing cabinet at work. Just last week, I had Big run me to Walgreens after lunch so I could buy $7.00 worth of chocolate. He claims that my eating habits have caused him to gain weight… all I eat is potatoes, noodles, rice, bread, and cheese. And I absolutely have to have cookies, brownies, or cinnamon rolls after every dinner.
I am normal, and quirky, and funny, and different, and silly, and weird. I watch cartoons when I get dressed in the mornings and I listen to 80’s music constantly. I love glitter, and rhinestones, and patent leather, and sequins. I am skeptical, and mistrusting, and unforgiving, and hard-headed. I get attached to books, movies, stuffed animals, and articles of clothing but I have a hard time getting attached to people. I am scared of the dark, and change, and everything staying the same, and marriage, and kids… I am scared everything.
I am so much more than what most people think I am… but they just can’t see it.
When I run into an old friend or classmate, I don’t want to be remembered for something I wore or the way I look.
I want them to remember that I am a woman of substance. I want them to remember how I make them laugh, how logical I am, or how articulate I can be. I want them to remember how witty, or charming, or clever I am sometimes.
Remember me for what I said, not how I said it.
Remember me for what I stand for, not how I stand.
Remember me for who I am, not who you want me to be.