Remembering Yourself: A Guide

Opening up Facebook this morning – this generations version of the morning paper – the first post I scrawled across: How To Be A Good Woman. Curious as to what tips this random stranger might have for me and what ‘being a good woman’ actually looks like, I opened the article and felt my jaw drop more and more the farther down I scrolled. Tip One was basically a lesson plan on how to impress the man in your life. Tip Two was all about putting your children first. And the article continued, painting a picture of what society evidently views as a good woman: Beautiful, intelligent, put together, focused, putting others first, ect.

I felt like I was watching one of those movies where the popular girls transform the class nerd into a beautiful princess by taking off her glasses and letting down her hair. As I always wondered when watching these movies, I began to wonder now: What was wrong with her before? Society has us convinced that to be a good woman we have to look and act the right way. We have to say the right things and wear the right clothes. Our hair has to be perfectly styled. We have to be amazing mom’s every second and great friends at every chance we get. We have to be perfect. Every minute of every day.

I say to hell with that theory.

Being a good woman starts with remembering yourself. It starts with wearing the clothes that make you comfortable and doing the things that make you happy. Being a good woman has nothing to do with how you treat others, and everything to do with how you treat yourself. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying to treat everyone around you like scum and think you can get away with it. I’m saying that the one person we all spend the most time with is ourselves; shouldn’t we be our biggest priority?

Remember yourself when you go the grocery store. Buy the box of donuts you’ve been eyeing for days. Remember yourself at night after you’ve tucked the kids in. Take a hot bath or read a good book or do both. Remember yourself when that guy asks you to come over. Think about if you really want to or if you’re just trying to impress him. Remember yourself when your best friend asks you out for coffee before you say yes. Do you really want to meet her, or would you rather take the few spare minutes you have in your day for a little me time?

A good woman isn’t perfect. She is flawed. She is struggling. But she is trying. A good woman makes steps every day to be the best version of herself. And some days she takes two steps backwards instead of one step forward. But that’s okay. A good woman gets up and tries again tomorrow anyway.

Here’s to all the great woman out there – forget society and remember yourself. You are perfect just the way you are (cliche for a reason).

 

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Women

I’m at a shopping mall browsing through clothing racks

to maybe fill some of this emotional void with material items when

I hear them fighting two rows down

his voice is louder but she is clearly winning

cutting edge tongue to throat rips

he storms off and outside lights a cigarette

she continues to shop now with a stern look on her face

daring the fabric between her fingers to tell her she is wrong.

My mama used to tell me I would start fights just to win them

I worked with a man who never missed a chance to remind me my attitude was

intimidating –

what he meant to say was –

your attitude is intimidating when worn by a woman.

 

– CM

Men Have It Easier

He seems like a nice guy

leaning against the outside wall of the apartment complex in a plaid top

and ripped jeans, there is nothing menacing about him

but still my body tingles and I turn right instead of left

taking the long way home to avoid passing by him alone.

Last night it happened again

the only fault this man had was being built a little too muscular

and standing in the dark when I only have my phone to protect me –

he even opened the door for me with a smile and still

my skin crawled and every alarm in my brain was ready to sound off.

“Men can’t do anything right”

“Men have it so hard”

“You always think the worst of us”

And sometimes I do feel guilty-

when I avoid a walk way specifically because a man is standing there and there are no lights to convince me he isn’t a threat –

but then I remember every time a seemingly innocent looking man

really was a threat

every time my friend tells me she was too scared to leave her apartment

or every news article about another sister being attacked in the safety of her own home

and my guilt washes away because

we live in a world where you can never be too safe

and if that man with the smile and the plaid shirt means me no harm

I will add him to my list of alliances but

this list is so much shorter than my list of enemies.

 

-CM

To Every Girl They Tried to Hold Back

An old man told a girl I knew that her dress was too short even though the fabric reached her knees

When my classmate rose her hand more than they liked, our peers would call her a know it all

Boys would cat call the girls wearing shorts and tank tops and mock the girls wearing anything else if it didn’t please them

She was told to shut up, she was told she was wrong, when her opinion held truths they couldn’t yet face

Over and over again we are told to shrink. They tell us to quiet our voices. To make ourselves as small as we possibly can because who wants to hear our opinions anyway –

Stand up.

Rise up.

Grow taller than the tallest mountain

Reach the clouds and when you do

Scream

Open your mouth and let every word you have kept suppressed tumble out and fall at the feet of all those who said you were too fragile

Too small

Too much of a girl

to do great things

 

-CM

Every Girl

The girl sitting on the bench across from me at the mall has long black hair

her ears are plugged with the noise of music and she is silently nodding along

her lips moving ever so slightly to a sound only she can hear.

Across from her is a woman with curves wearing a crop top

and high rise jeans strutting with a confidence beyond her years

she knows she is beautiful and dares every wandering eye to challenge that.

I used to work with a girl with electric blue locks and tattoos along her arms

she spoke her mind and lived fearlessly even while

the shadows danced behind her eyes she never asked for permission to exist.

There was a girl in my school with braids down her back wearing

skirts that dropped to her feet her body always a secret

she kept to herself like a promise.

The smartest girl I know has blonde hair and wears bright red lipstick

on her mostly silent lips

when she speaks you always learn something new –

she is years younger than me.

The mirror shows a girl I will never see as the world does but

her blue eyes glisten and I know she means well when she leans close and whispers

‘you are enough’

I want her to scream those words so that every woman may hear her

you are enough

shouted from the roof tops of every building in every city

each girl sitting straight and standing tall

knowing her body is her body and her mind is her mind

and she is and always will be

enough.

 

– CM