TLDR (I finally looked this up…yes this is too long but you should read it anyway, I dare you)
I run a lot. Like, with my feet, on purpose, through the woods and on the roads. And I enjoy it. I never thought of myself as a “runner” which I hear as a common issue from other people – mostly women. We have a hard time defining ourselves as things like athlete and runner I think because we are not “elite” in those categories and definitions. I ran 100 miles in November. I ran a couple weeks in a row at or just below 40 miles total. I am running a 50K (yes… 5-0-K…have Google do the conversion for you) this weekend and I still falter at times when saying I am a runner, but I’m more and more often putting it before other monikers when asked “what do you do” or “what are you?” (Does anyone really ask what ARE you? I don’t know, I probably made that up).
I read a lot about running. I love race reports and books about running, even if they are just vanity press jobs. I’m not going to call this my feminist, girl power awakening of any kind – I’ve always been of the mind that my gender doesn’t matter in the endeavors I take on in life (I realize that’s not true, I’ve just always been kind of oblivious, either through desire to remain so or just “had the blinders on” because I wanted to believe it didn’t matter). Amazing what having a daughter will do for you in that regard – but that’s probably for another post.
A book I read recently called Daughters of Distance by Vanessa Runs, has really brought some interesting things to light for me during a time when I realized it’s really quite acceptable to quit apologizing for being good at something, or for juggling a lot of things – you know…for being a badass.
From Daughters of Distance: “David Brooks, an op-ed columnist at The New York Times, wrote about a study in the journal Emotion by Jessica Tracy and Alex Beall. The study showed that men were rated as more attractive when they showed pride, whereas women were rated as less attractive when they displayed the same emotion. However, when women expressed shame, they were rated as attractive. There is a reason men tend to be much more overconfident than women,” reported Brooks. “Overconfidence (pride) wins mates. For women, it doesn’t.”
I would note that I think overconfidence and pride are two very different things…..but…… another from the book:
“Not all acts of confidence need to be loud and aggressive. The best ones are quiet actions, barely noticeable choices in our daily lives.”
That’s a lot to soak in, the whole book is a lot to contemplate and I highly recommend it (general topic being women in endurance sports including running, triathlons, cycling and swimming…).
We are constantly told that we should teach our children to have confidence. That instilling confidence in our girl children is really, really important. The quote above kind of packs this nasty punch though, huh? Yes, darling, be confident but be lonely because your confidence is not a turn on, really and well, as a woman you should be attractive in all things and be confident but don’t be a bitch about it. I don’t necessarily agree with the study findings, but of course I am biased as a confident over-achiever who happens to be female and has successfully partnered off in life and feels loved (ugh…talk about being a bitch, right?).
If I am honest with myself I know that confident women are not perceived the same as confident men. It’s the way it is – and I don’t mean that in a way that sounds accepting and defeated. I’d like to think then that would mean more women would say: “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” and continue to be confident in their lives until someone appreciates that confidence, loves that confidence, supports it and finds it desirable….IF partnering up with someone is ultimately a priority. If not, than just rock on with your bad self!
So all this to say, I posted something in a Mom’s running group on Facebook recently regarding “badassery.” I’m still thinking about it and the response was overwhelmingly pretty positive. Or those who didn’t like it, kindly just talked about me behind my back.
I think it’s OK and sometimes necessary for us to tell ourselves and others of our tribes that it’s totally OK to be proud, to be boastful even! Who is going to toot my horn about the totally mundane shit I pull off amidst all of life that is happening around me…but ME! (YOU KNOW
you feel totally bad ass when you successfully make, bake, clean, accomplish ANYTHING while a 2-year old is securely wrapped around your leg the entire time repeating “LICORICE NOW PLEASE” for 30 solid minutes). Hopefully this doesn’t come across as pompous (because God knows I don’t want you all to find me less attractive) but I just realized how much apologizing I felt the need to do for being competent and for kicking ass, occasionally. If you do this too – stop it. Own your awesome (All subsequent bumper stickers, t-shirts or novelty items heralding this “own your awesome” sentiment shall be owned by me, henceforth and always. The end.)
Previously posted elsewhere by me with some edits: Something I contemplate often as I dwell on the feats of amazingness I accomplish in a day (I mean, really…we all know that moms can and do bend space and time to get shit done! Supportive families and husbands are greatly appreciated and so very needed, but really I doubt they can keep up with me, I literally run in circles, sometimes around them) is that uncomfortable moment when someone says “how DO you do it all!!” or “I don’t know how you do it all!” That uncomfortable moment when you laugh and say “oh I don’t know…” Or sarcastically quip the comment away with “There’s REALLY 6 of me!” and cry inside about the fact that all six of you are FREAKING EXHAUSTED. So I was contemplating this again last night as I made dinner while simultaneously getting my daughter ready for opening night of a play, while simultaneously showering and keeping the toddler from destroying stuff or turning his spaghetti (with no sauce, I’m not an idiot) into hair while also making sure his blankie was clean and dried for bedtime, while simultaneously mentally packing my gear for the weekend’s out of town race — ALL after a full day of work — I decided from now on, I’m going to be ready with a response about how badass I am. Maybe you can relate, maybe you can’t. Maybe you already embrace how badass you are (because we all are in our own right) but I think I’m still getting there. I want a response that encapsulates this feeling without being a jerk (although, sometimes…I don’t care) because dammit, most days we just do. it. ALL. And I think it’s OK to take the “how DO you do it all” comment and embrace it and recognize it and say “Because I’m a freakin’ badass, that’s how…” I realize no one specifically asked me to have a plate that’s this full – what can I say, the buffet of life is too tempting not to pile it on – but since it is quite full, I’m going to ROCK IT. I guess, I am encouraging all momma’s to embrace their badassery and not feel bad or be made to feel bad for being able to do it all, to cover the miles, to care for your family, to work, to keep a home, to cook meals and wipe butts and rock babies … you have a super power, your super power is badassery. Go embrace it and don’t feel bad about it. Run, laugh and save the world.”
(Note about exhaustion: Don’t kill yourself – know your limits. That’s all).
As I look back on this – a few things to note. I’m not shaming people for not being super human. I’m saying you should totally just own who you are. I am not perfect, I don’t look like any certain ideal because subscribing to an ideal is a total bummer, man. If you totally did not clean the house today – so what – maybe you did something else instead or maybe, just maybe – you took care of yourself. I worried that this might cross into self-righteous preaching – that it might be too “I’m entitled to be important” kind of thing but really, it’s just me owning my awesomeness and saying that whatever your awesome is, you should own it too. (Basically, here I am, apologizing for being confident…damn it!) Rock a messy ponytail, LOOK like you have kids, run, walk, skip, whatever it is and don’t apologize for being pretty great (just don’t be lazy or dismissive of life and miss out on all this fun, ain’t no body got time for that….).
So, two more quotes I want to highlight from Daughters of Distance…First – regarding being a girl:
“I think the whole world has essentially been brought up not to be a girl. How do we bring up boys? What does it mean to be a boy? To be a boy really means not to be a girl. To be a man means not to be a girl. To be a woman means not to be a girl. To be strong means not to be a girl. To be a leader means not to be a girl. I actually think that being a girl is so powerful that we’ve had to train everyone not to be that.”
There is nothing I fear more than my 8-year old GIRL. She is powerful and I can’t wait until she realizes it. I hope she does everything “like a girl.”
“Can you imagine the liberation if we could just appreciate ourselves right now? Who we are, where we are, what we look like? If we could just look in the mirror long enough for a basic once-over and a smile-wink and be done with it? If we were too content and confident to critique?”
Go on about your business and thanks for listening.