Sometimes I feel like I take up too much space. Not in a body image, “I’m too fat”, way. I just mean that I feel like my existence is too obtrusive. As if my role is to be small and cute and sweet and funny and nothing more.
More often I am expansive. Loud and outgoing, I am in my element when there is a project that I can take charge of, a crowd to speak in front of, someone who needs my help.
It can be difficult to reconcile these sides of my personality. That shy girl with the take charge woman. They are equally important, equally precious, equally me.
I came across this poem a year ago and it has stuck with me ever since.
Perhaps you hate spoken word, and it’s okay if you do. But this poem resonates with me. I want to cheer with the audience, I want to be this woman who identified clearly with her words something that is deep seeded inside of me.
Let’s be crystal clear here. My mother is not the shrinking woman. Her house is not growing larger around her. The women in my life are vibrant, and strong, and unapologetic for their existence.
And yet this poem resonates.
I have been taught accommodation…
I have been taught to filter…
I have been taught to grow in…
I learned to absorb…
Deciding… how much space she deserves to occupy.
For me let’s replace the phrase “I have been taught” with “I was born”.
This need to become smaller, to minimize my very self is something that I was born with. It is not something that I was taught. It is something that is, and always has been, within me.
I remember how frustrated my parents used to get with the way that I said “I’m sorry” at the start of every sentence. They begged me to stop, unable to understand why I felt this innate need to apologize for my very existence.
My first kiss? I apologized to the boy the moment that he pulled his face away from mine. He asked why I was sorry.
I didn’t know.
I still don’t.
I am the blonde-haired, blue-eyed, pink-lipped girl. I am pretty, and pleasing, and here to charm. (I apologize if my weight offends you, I’ll try to make that right so I’m a more pleasant ornament.)
I am the loud-mouthed, bossy, lets-get-it-done woman. I will pull you onto the dance floor, tell you what I think, take charge of the situation. (Go ahead, call me a bitch, I’ll consider it a compliment.)
I wouldn’t want to be one, or the other, piece of me entirely.
I don’t want to be a princess. (Though I wouldn’t mind the occasional excuse to wear a crinoline.) But sometimes I need to be delicate, and fragile, and that’s okay too.
I’m trying to stop apologizing for my existence, for taking up some space on this planet. I’m trying to stop accommodating that which is unacceptable. I’m growing out, not in, and it might take up some room. I’ll try to keep my inherited army-drill-sergeant voice down. It’s rarely going to work.
The girl irritates the hell out of me. She irritates the hell out of my family and friends. But she’s as much a piece of me as anything else and I’m trying to be kind and patient with her.
We all have these pieces of ourselves – some that we like more than others. We need to accept them, to reconcile with them, to recognize those pieces that are necessities and those that we can let go.
The take-charge woman gets worn out sometimes. She wants a break. She wants to cede control to those that she can trust and become that girl for a little bit. It allows her to recharge, to gain perspective, to remember that she doesn’t have to do it all alone. (Even though, really, she does.)
Don’t take advantage of the girl. Because the woman will resurface. And she will kick your ass.