Nov 17, 2013

...And They Lived Happily Ever After (Sort of)

We’ve all seen it before.  It ends every fairy tale, every storybook romance, every watercolor-laden animation of love.

…and they lived happily ever after. 

 When I was little, I LOVED those words.  They filled me with a Zen-like serenity, a deep satisfaction.  Of course they lived happily ever after!  And everything was perfect!  And the bad times were over!  I was content with this vague, flowery, greeting card ending as a suitable goal.  It seemed simple enough:  Get through the hard stuff; arrive at the “happily ever after.”

As I’ve gotten older, though, I find myself struggling with the “happily ever after” part.  When does it happen?  What does it look like?  What happens after that setting sun rises again, after the white horse gets tired, after the prince has to take off his armor and go to sleep and the princess discovers that, to her horror, he snores?  (For the record, if the worst chink in your “happily ever after” armor is a simple, noisy sinus problem, this blog post is probably not for you, and you might need to look up the definition of “problem.”)

My sophomore year of college, I got my heart broken—and, by “broken,” I mean ground to tiny shards of something that might once have been gemstones.  I came home that summer in a daze of despair.  Where had I gone wrong?  What had I missed?  Why had my picture-perfect romance failed to reach the golden sunset of the “happily ever after?”

Like any good college student, I decided to study the most reliable sources of “happily ever after” love—romantic comedies.  I sat down with a legal pad and pen and watched couple after nauseating couple fall in perfectly-scripted, stars-in-their-eyes, swallow-the-moon love with each other.  I watched them face the inevitable struggle before coming to the inevitable conclusion that they were better together. I took copious notes, trying to pinpoint that one incredible moment where pheromones had collided and chemicals had reacted.  After fifteen films and ten pages of evidence (a true story of which I’m not proud), I learned one thing, and one thing only:  Hollywood sucks.

Three-act structure is not love.  And “happily ever after?”  It’s just a denouement.

In real life, “…and they lived happily ever after” isn’t an end.  It’s a beginning.  It’s the point where the real story starts.  It’s the point where “love” stops being a collision of chemicals and pheromones and starts being a decision.

(I know what you’re thinking.  “Love?  A decision?”  Least romantic thing ever, right?  I ask you this:  What’s more romantic than a significant other who chooses, over and over, to be with you?)

In the Bible, Paul tells a church in Corinth that love is patient and kind, not jealous or self-seeking.  I can say with complete confidence that I love my brother—and that he, in turn, loves me—but I absolutely get jealous of him.  I get impatient with him.  We’ve certainly said things that are unkind. I’ve definitely done favors for him with the intention of collecting those favors later. So is Paul wrong, or am I just really bad at love?

Maybe neither of those is true.  Maybe love isn’t the part where we get jealous or mean or selfish.  Maybe love is the part where we recognize those shortcomings—even when they’re inconvenient for us—and try to be better.  Maybe love is the part where weI get up the next day and decide to try harder to be more understanding.  Maybe love is the part where, even when we feel jealous, mean, and selfish, we put those feelings aside and try to do what’s best for someone else.

Love might be patient and kind, but it’s also really freaking hard.  (Don’t worry: that’s in Paul’s fine print.)  Luckily for us, we’ve got time to get it right.  Every time the sun sets, we’re offered a clean slate.  So, if you didn’t quite make it to the white horse tonight, get up tomorrow and try harder.  Trust me; you’ll have lots of other people trying with you. 

On the road to the white horse, I stumble a lot.  Maybe you will, too, but try not to look at these stumbles as failures.  Look at them as opportunities for you to feel how much and how hard people are trying to love you back—imperfectly, brokenly, and beautifully, in the only way they know how.

 …and they lived happily ever after…until the guy decided to be a completely selfish jackass, and the girl had the grace to overlook his ridiculous attitude until he finally decided to grow up.

…and they lived happily ever after…until the girl turned into a crazy, clingy, needy psychopath whose insecurities almost overtook the relationship, and the guy had the patience to hold her and reassure her and calm her down.

Maybe if we read more fairy tales like this, we’d be better at this whole “love” thing.  Maybe we’d have a better understanding of how to be patient and kind, and we’d stop looking for perfection in human places.

Maybe not.

I don’t look at “happily ever after” as the end goal anymore, though.  I look at it as the start of something real.

So…go live happily ever after.  Imperfectly, brokenly, and beautifully, one day at a time.  Then, you know, maybe go make a movie about it.  I hear Hollywood might need a couple. ;)

           

           

           

Comments

Mar 22, 2013

Just Keep Swimming

I understand why people get stoned.  Not, like, wow-look-at-the-colors-in-that-lava-lamp stoned, but wow-I-can’t-believe-I-just-ran-14-miles stoned.  Endorphins are powerful.  They give you crazy, brilliant ideas.  (See the previous blog on running for details:http://emmelinemusic.virb.com/blog/13553864/success.)

The other day, I was stoned from a run and headed towards the stairs at the gym.  (I was maybe the last person to leave.  They had maybe tried to kick me out twice.)  As I was rounding the corner, I caught sight of the pool, and the endorphins spoke to me.

You know what you should do?  they whispered excitedly.  Go swimming.  Tomorrow morning. 

For those of you who are new to this blog, allow me to explain the misfortune of this exclamation: I’m a musician.  We don’t do anything in the morning.  Ever.  In fact, we kind of look at mornings like Sarah Palin looks at dinosaurs.  There’s irrefutable proof of their existence, but…have you ever seen one?  I haven’t.  They could just be a myth…like, you know, the patriarchy, or hockey moms without lipstick.

Endorphins are powerfully persuasive, though.  The next morning, I was awake and—to my dismay—dressed in gym clothes and a swimsuit.  I arrived at the gym at approximately 9:30 AM.  The guy behind the desk with whom I’m on a first-name basis glanced at his watch twice before shooing me forward.

“In here early today, huh?”

(Yeah.  I get it.  Spotting a musician in the morning is kind of like spotting a dinosaur.  People flock.  Museums build exhibits.  Somebody blogs.)

At approximately 10:15 AM, I had finished my run and was staring at the crystal clear, chlorinated waters of the five-lane swimming pool apprehensively.  I took a deep breath and dove in…and had to hand it to the endorphins.

Best.  Idea.  Ever.

I’ve been swimming for as long as I can remember.  I love the water.  I firmly believe that all good vacations include a beach and an ocean…or at least a hot tub.  Somehow, though, in the insanity of my daily life, I’d forgotten how much I loved to swim. 

With one dive, it all came rushing back.  I splashed around.  I flipped underwater.  I did a breast-stroke victory lap of glee.  Then, as I got down to business with my kickboard, I started to wonder what it was about the water that I love so much.  Within seconds, the endorphins had an answer.

Weightlessness.

Do you have any idea how much crap we carry around each day?  I’m not just talking about internal and external organs, either.  I went on a retreat recently, and one of the discussion topics was “forgiveness.”  The first question posed by our moderator was, “How many of you have trouble forgiving other people?”  A few hands went up.  There was a long discussion of grudges.

I’ll be real with you.  I don’t hold many grudges.  My attention span isn’t that long.  I do have trouble forgetting things, though.  I store a lot of information about people, and I weigh each and every bit of it when I’m making social decisions.  Sometimes, trying to do what is ineveryone else’s best interest is quite a weight.

Of course, I probably don’t have to tell you that.  Think about the people who’ve done you wrong.  Now, think about how many of those people you’ve actually forgiven.  If you haven’t taken steps to let those grudges go, you’re still carrying them around—and that’s weight.

The second question posed by the moderator was, “How many of you have trouble forgiving yourselves?”

Silence.

You know when you’re little, and it’s dinnertime, and you REALLY want dessert, but it’s not time for dessert yet, so you decide that you’re going to crawl into the pantry and sneak a Rice Krispie Treat?  You know that feeling when your mom peels back the door to the pantry and catches you?

Sitting in that retreat house, I was a marshmallow-craving, Krispie-eating four-year-old all over again.  Guilt erupted from my pores.  And I’m Catholic, so I’m really good at guilt.

For the most part, with time, I can forgive others. 

I am horrible at forgiving myself.

I don’t think I’m the only one, either.  I think there are a lot of us out there who keep a mental tally of all of the things we haven’t crossed off our to-do lists.  All of the people we haven’t helped.  All of the ways in which we haven’t improved.  All of the times we failed to be as good as we’d hoped we’d be. 

Some nights, it feels like a really long list.  Most nights, it’s a really heavy burden.    

Once you hit the water, you’re weightless.  Insulated entirely by gentle, cleansing waves.  Suspended on all sides.  As long as you’re in the water, you don’t have to carry your own mass.  In fact, you can use the water to help you carry someone twice your size.  (Trust me.  I carried my brother around the public pool every summer when we were growing up.  He was at least twice my size.)

In the water, burdens lose their lead.  Aches lose their pain.  Things that were once really, really difficult—like propelling yourself forward with only your limbs to guide you—suddenly seem really, really easy.

It’s almost like confession.  By the power of chlorine may my sins be washed away.

The water relieves the physical burden we put on ourselves.  So how do we relieve the emotional burden?  Perfectionism is a lot of things, but it’s definitely not weightless.

Letting ourselves off the hook is hard.  I’ve amassed quite a set of expectations for myself.  Swimming is a good reminder to ease up the reins, though.  When I’m floating in the water, I kind of feel like God is all around me, lifting me up.  Forgiving us for all of the things we can’t forgive in ourselves.

(There’s a Catholic hymn that goes, “And let all who thirst; let them come to the water.  And let all who have nothing; let them come to the Lord.”  I think I get it now.)

If we can forgive those faults in others; if God can forgive those faults in us…then shouldn’t we be able to take a hint and do the same?

Today, pick one thing you’re carrying around that feels heavy.   Hold it to the light.  In the translucent nuances of your fault, try to find the lesson beneath the mistake.  And, instead of wielding it at yourself like a bludger in a good game of Quidditch, let the rest go.

Forgive yourself.

It might not happen exactly like it does in the water.  Our clenched fists might have trouble relinquishing all of those burdens in one go.  We can, however, try to do it slowly—one finger at a time, one thing at a time, one day at a time.  We can come to the water and try to be lighter.  And maybe, if we do as Dory says and just keep swimming, we can be really, truly weightless.

So what are you waiting for?  Take a deep breath and dive.  And always, always listen to the endorphins.

CommentsTags swimming motivation inspiration

Sep 19, 2012

Success...or Something Like It

I am not a runner.
 

When I was little, I wanted to be a runner.  I was super jealous of the kids in gym class who could run The Mile in under 7 minutes.  You know, the kids who would hear the whistle and take off at a graceful lope, navigating the rocky terrain of the elementary school soccer field like a gazelle navigates open fields, grass billowing like the hair in an Herbal Essences commercial.  (If you listen, you can almost hear the exhilarating screams of “Yes!  Yes!”)  

But running didn’t make me feel like a gazelle.  Running made me feel more like tiny elves with hammers were trying to escape from a rib-lined dungeon.  It didn’t help that my coach would jog easily beside me, yelling, “Come on, Emers!” cheerfully as I gasped for air.

When I was growing up in Texas, all public school kids had to take the Presidential Fitness Test.  To pass—and be declared “healthy”—one had to perform a certain number of sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, jumping jacks, etc. within a given time.  I’m a competitive, ambitious freak, so I tried to go above and beyond.  I did twenty more sit-ups than necessary.  I did fifty extra jumping jacks. I could even do three pull-ups (as a girl!).

I was on fire.  I was ready to conquer the final obstacle.  Then, the coach announced that we would be running The Mile in under ten minutes.

I freaked.  Deep, even breaths became terrified gasps.  Then, I steeled myself.  I would finish The Mile.  I would. 

I didn’t.  Not the first time, or the second time, or the third.  Finally, my coach asked my mom if I could stay after school so I could have a one-on-one running session.  My cheeks burned with embarrassment as I stepped onto the soccer field at 4:35 PM.  Kids asked what was going on.  My coach responded that I was just “a little slow” and needed “special encouragement.”

(For the record, I’m an honors student.  This was both my first and last encounter with the words “a little slow.”  They were beyond mortifying.)

The coach hit the stopwatch, and we began running.  I tried to take it at an easy lope.  Then, my lungs caught fire, and my ribs began shrinking, and my stomach began churning in protest.  The tiny elves abandoned their hammers for pickaxes.  My steady mantra of “You can do this” quickly became “You will NOT cry.”

To add insult to injury, every few feet was punctuated by my coach’s cheerful shout of “Come on, Emers!”

(Seriously.  What kind of nickname is Emers?!)

We finished in 9 minutes and 19 seconds.  I should’ve felt triumphant, or proud, or something.  Instead, I felt empty and achy.  The coach’s happy back-slaps of encouragement landed on stiff, sore shoulders.

“Aren’t you glad that’s over with?” my mom asked as I climbed into the car.

I didn’t reply.  Two weeks later, the allergist diagnosed me with severe asthma.  I was given an inhaler for attacks.  It was supposed to help with exercise.

I still refused to run. When I went to the gym, I glared at the treadmills with as much anger as my tiny frame could muster and made my way to the elliptical machines instead.  I rode the bike.  I did weights.  This worked until one day when, to my gross astonishment and horror, the elliptical machines and bikes were all taken.

Of course, the treadmills (in their menacing row of metal) were wide open.

You have a college degree, I told myself.  You can get on a treadmill. 

Tentatively, I mounted the titanium beast and squinted at its handles.  For a moment, we were at a stand-off.  Its flashing LED lights enthusiastically lapped the digital track, mocking my inadequacy. 

Four laps meant a mile.  Four letters screamed “FAIL” to a soundtrack of thumping hip-hop beats and the distant strains of an aerobics class.

I pressed Start, and the belt began to move.  I walked.  Then, to make myself feel better, I increased the incline.

The next day, I returned.  I increased the incline a bit more.  I increased the speed again and again…but only to walk.  I did NOT jog. 

On the 4th of July, I walked four miles at intervals of 4.0 and 4.5, inclines of 15-21.  When I crossed the 4-mile mark, I peered at the LED screen with new eyes.  Stoned on endorphins and euphoria, the tiny mouse in my brain went, “Hey, what if you ran The Mile?”

At 60 minutes, I cranked the speed up to 6.3, dropped the incline to 3.0, and began running.  The tiny elves began hammering.  My lungs burned.  But I didn’t stop—I increased the speed.

At 69 minutes, I was done.  Dripping.  Gasping for air.  The total opposite of a gazelle.  I was also completely and totally dumbstruck.

I ran a 9 –minute mile!

All of that triumph that I was supposed to feel when I was 7?  I felt it.  In spades.

The LED lights weren’t mocking me anymore.  In fact, they kind of reminded me of Christmas.

I’ve run The Mile almost every day since.  Every day, I clock in below ten minutes.  Lately, I’ve been clocking in at 8:15.  In fact, just the other day, I ran two miles, both under 9 minutes. 

Maybe I am a runner now, but that’s not the point.  Here’s the point:  We’re a society of instant gratification. We’re used to getting what we want, when we want it. When I was 7, I really, really wanted to run The Mile in under 10 minutes.  I didn’t get it, and I gave up.

Now, it’s easy…but only because I’ve spent years building stamina.  Walking faster.  Walking higher.  Walking longer.  I wasn’t making progress with a goal in mind, so I didn’t think to track the progress, but I was making progress.  Slow progress is still progress.

We forget that so, so easily.

Take a second today and stop berating yourself for the ground you’ve yet to cover.  Instead, take a look back at the terrain you’ve already conquered.  You might be surprised by how far you’ve come.  You might be more surprised at the degree to which things that were insurmountable suddenly seem small.  Miniscule, even.

I work in the entertainment industry, where people measure success not in individual records sold, but in millions of records sold.  That’s a daunting figure.  In many instances, it’s a figure that dwarfs me and artists like me.

I know I’m not alone.  I know that many of you also work in places where your progress is measured in enormous amounts.  I’m here not to perpetuate that pressure, but to offer an alternative perspective.

Maybe success isn’t about leaps and bounds.  Maybe success is about doing what you need to do, and doing it better.  Slowly, but surely.  One day at a time.

Today, be the best that you can be.  Tomorrow, be something better.

Who knows? In twenty years, you might be the standard by which other people measure their success.

As long as you keep moving, you’ll keep covering ground.  You’ll keep making progress. 

And isn’t that the whole point of success anyway?

 

CommentsTags running rambling success

Aug 26, 2012

Wreck

I had a brilliant plan wherein I was going to write an entire post about the power of feedback, but then I got sidetracked by a song that refused to be silenced, so I thought I'd share that with you instead. :)

I so appreciate all of the love you guys showed me this week in McKinney, TX.  As a token of my gratitude, here are the lyrics to a brand new song--coming soon to a live show near you!

I'd tell you the story, but I said it all in the song.  Here's "Wreck":

Let's set the record straight
Let's strip away the gloss
You weren't a legend or a hero
Just a little boy lost
And I was your compass for a few months

You had the voice of angels
The stature of a king
And every time you cracked a smile
It was the most beautiful thing
Like God himself had smiled at me

CHORUS
And oh, oh, oh we shone 
Bright like falling stars
But oh, oh, oh I fell
Harder from the start
And oh, oh, oh I know
Every landing smarts
Your gravity, it shattered me
And now I'm just a wreck

Let's lose the pretty words
Let's call it what it was
We were fast friends; we were best friends
We were something beyond
You were a lonely soul and I had left a light on

Your heart is on display
You're never watered down
I'm a sucker for straight shooters
You're the straightest in town
But you let fear keep you chained to the ground
And you lie just like a convict when attraction comes around

CHORUS
And oh, oh, oh we shone 
Bright like falling stars
But oh, oh, oh I fell
Harder from the start
And oh, oh, oh I know
Every landing smarts
Your gravity, it shattered me
And now I'm just a wreck

Looking back, we were a terrible match
Your fragile hope, my steely cynicism; both of us damaged
And I don't know if I miss you 
Now that you're gone
Maybe I just miss the way I felt in your arms

CHORUS
'Cause oh, oh, oh we shone 
Bright like falling stars
But oh, oh, oh I fell
Harder from the start
And oh, oh, oh I know
Every landing smarts
Your gravity, it shattered me
And now I'm just a wreck

CommentsTags songs lyrics new music

Aug 3, 2012

Sisterhood of the Traveling Musicians

I spent the last week teaching voice at Girls Rock Dallas, a camp created solely for women who want to make music.  The experience was everything I could’ve hoped for and more.  I learned so much about the power of sisterhood and the beauty of women working together.  Moreover, I was forced to confront some irrefutable truths about the conflicting natures of my existence.

That sounds really serious and daunting.  Let’s rewind.

When I left my home in Dallas, TX for my first year at Scripps College, I was petrified.  Not because I was headed away from the land of biscuits and gravy and into the land of unsweetened tea (though that was a rude discovery).  Not because I was going to be living 1500 miles away from my friends and family.  Not even because my college career was beginning with Outdoor Orientation, which would be my first experience camping in the great outdoors.  (For the record, I learned very quickly that this city chick and the wild woods do not mix.  Neither do carnivores and TVP.)    

I was petrified because Scripps College was a women’s college.  And, for the first time in my life, I was going to have to live with a bunch of girls—and no boys.

Here’s the thing:  I wasn’t a cool girl.  I wasn’t popular.  Growing up, most of the people to whom I was emotionally close were boys.  I had a few good girl friends, but I always felt most comfortable with the boys.  In fact, “I hate girls” was a phrase that I used freely.  That wasn’t the only phrase, either:

 

“I’m never going to be a girly-girl.”

“I don’t get girls.”

“I’m not pretty enough to hang out with them.”

 

I self-identified as a “guy’s girl.”  I hated makeup.  I didn’t understand the female obsession with purses.  I listened to pop music religiously, but I didn’t have in-depth discussions about which  ‘N Sync member was the hottest or which pop princess had the prettiest hair.  I was really scared of the girl circles—you know, the spaces where girls would gather and whisper conspiratorially about the faults in other girls:

 

“She’s so disgusting.  It’s like she never brushes her hair.”

“I heard she’s a lesbian.  Like, she actually likes other girls.”

“She could be pretty if she wasn’t so fat.”

 

I had come to the conclusion in junior high that some girls were pretty, and some girls were smart.  In my mind, the two could not co-exist without some kind of war in the aisles of the cafeteria.  I knew I wasn’t a pretty girl—not by the platinum blonde, stick-thin standards, at least—so I made the decision to be a smart girl.  And, by route, I shunned the pretty girls.

The idea of suddenly being thrust into a world where I had to not only communicate, but LIVE with the pretty girls was terrifying.  In fact, the terror remained until I spent my first night on the Scripps campus in the company of a myriad of fellow first years.

There were lots of pretty girls.  There were lots of smart girls.  To my astonishment, most of the girls fell into both categories.  But, to my complete surprise and relief, NONE of the girls felt the need to form the evil girl circles and start voting the less conventional chicks off of Style Island.

See, this weird thing happens when boys are removed from the equation—girls get supportive of each other.  They stop tearing each other down.  They stop competing with each other and start competing with themselves.  And, as a result, everyone grows—together.

All of the women I met at Scripps had big dreams, big plans, and big brains.  Most importantly, though, they had big love.  The conversations I overheard about other women were drastically different.

 

“She’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.”

“She’s SO talented.”

“She’s got that kind of beauty that’s effortless.”

 

Jealousy became reverence.  Spite became awe.  Hate became love.

I’m not saying girls never got into fights.  I’m not saying that no one ever argued.  I’m saying that our first inclination wasn’t to devalue each other.

I’m not sure where women learn to hate other women, but it’s a terrible thing.  Living in the cocoon of strength and sisterhood created by Scripps College was an indescribable blessing.  Leaving it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.

When I graduated and made the decision to enter the workforce as a female musician, I entered an obviously male-dominated industry.  I did not expect the sexism to be so blatant, though.  I’ve walked into open mics and had people ask me which guitar-playing dude was my boyfriend.  I hear the following on a regular basis:

 

“Pretty girls shouldn’t have to carry equipment.”

“How does your boyfriend feel about you playing in bars?”

“Honey, that’s a man’s job.”

 

As a musician, I hang with the boys.  And there’s a misconception at work—that, to hang with the boys and eradicate the blatantly sexist comments above, you have to hang LIKE the boys.  I can’t get excited about sparkly things, or I’m a ditz.  I have to make sure that I never trip in my stilettos, or I’m just some guy’s ornamental puppet.  I have to carry all of my own equipment, or I’m a high-maintenance diva.  (Sidenote:  Who created these labels?  Why do we allow ourselves to perpetuate them?)  I sometimes feel like I have to be twice as talented as the boys just to be taken seriously.  Otherwise, I’m just a pretty girl who sings.  And remember, I’ve never been a pretty girl.

I walk a fine line between feminine and masculine, and I do it in six-inch heels.  Daily.

When I walked into Girls Rock Dallas, I felt strangely like a first year entering Scripps for the first time.  I was petrified of working with women again.  I was worried that the girls would get catty.  I was worried that I wouldn’t be rock enough for the metal musicians.  I was worried that I’d be too soprano for the altos.  I was worried that, because I like heels and sparkly things, they’d look at me like I used to look at the cheerleaders in my high school.

I’d forgotten about the magic rule where judgment disappears in the absence of boys.

I was petrified of having to prove myself in the same way that I have to prove myself to every crowd, every open mic, and every male-dominated musical community. 

I didn’t have to

We started our first morning with a dance party—and ALL of the female counselors and instructors went out and danced with the campers.  The pierced, tattooed, pink-haired, sequin-adorned, heel-clad, Ugg-wearing…ALL of them were on the floor, grooving without a care in the world. 

This happened every morning.  Whenever campers were announced, all of the women cheered them on.  Whenever a band took the stage, they entered amidst the screams of proud instructors.  In the break room, girls of all shapes, sizes, races, and styles chatted amicably and animatedly about the power and talent of their campers and bands.

It was Scripps all over again.  There was a warm cocoon of love.  The campers felt it, too, because they blossomed.  Their showcase was incredible.  Writing songs with them was incredible.  But watching them support each other?  That was the most incredible thing ever.

I could go on for ages about the importance of love and tolerance—especially among women—but here’s the crux of the issues:  I think that all of us girls inherit some pretty scary biases.  But prejudices can be dangerous, so here are my corrected statements:

 

“I hate girls.” – I don’t hate girls.  I love girls.  I hate girls who make their entire life about a man.  I hate girls who don’t respect other girls.  I hate girls who sacrifice their own strength, knowledge and passion because they’re scared to be different.  I hate girls that are afraid to say no to a boy.  I hate girls that are scared to figure out what they want.  I hate girls that don’t believe in their own worth and value.  Truthfully, though, I don’t hate these girls at all—I just feel really, really sad for them.

 “I’m never going to be a girly-girl.” – I am a girly-girl sometimes.  I still watch football.  I still curse like a sailor when I’m driving through traffic on 635.  But I also love a good pair of heels, and I can easily spend hours in Nordstrom’s.  I have also solved the mystery that is liquid eyeliner, and I agree that its secrets are impressive.

“I don’t get girls.” – I don’t get girls that don’t appreciate other girls.  I don’t get girls that feel the need to tear each other down.  I don’t get negative girls.  I don’t get judgmental girls.  I don’t get mean girls.  Society is mean enough; women should support and love each other.  I DO get girls that aren’t afraid to be themselves—even if that means that they’re married with children, pleated skirts, and pearl earrings.  Whatever decision you make, rock it like you made it on purpose or make a different decision. 

“I’m just not pretty enough.” – Pretty is subjective.  I saw a lot of women this past week, and I thought each and every one was beautiful.  Radiant.  Brilliant.  Passionate.  Nothing is prettier than that.

 

Girl power isn’t limited to fierce black women who have the strength, courage, and audacity to sang lines like “if you like it, then you should’ve put a ring on it” and demand to know “where my girls at?”  Girl power is for every girl.  Furthermore, sisterhood is for every girl.  Ovaries bind us in a way that we might not always understand, but we should wholeheartedly embrace it. 

And another thing?  Girl power doesn’t have a specific face.  There’s power in a stiletto-wearing beauty queen just like there’s power in a punk princess wearing platform combat books and a tutu.  It’s not the clothes; it’s the way you wear them.  It’s the confidence with which you present yourself.  It’s the knowledge that you stand for a gender that bears children and knits sweaters, but also slams sick guitar riffs, belts life-changing lyrics, and kills impossible drum fills.

Girls DO run the world—if we stop criticizing each other and start working together.

So what are you waiting for?  Go hug a sister.  Develop a bond.  Bring some women together.  And, from now on, every time you want to say something catty, say something nice instead.  Next time a bitter thought about someone’s appearance enters your head, rewrite your thought to “That girl is beautiful.”  Because she is…and so are you.

If we want the rest of the world to believe in our power, we have to believe in ourselves.  And, like I learned at camp, GIRLS ROCK!

 - Em :)

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