on being that girl

September 6, 2010

Living with 8 other women does a lot more than teaching you about how to share your wardrobe and whose eyeliner it's best to borrow on a friday night.

It teaches you about all the things that we, as women, have in common - the insecurities, frustrations, elations and not-so-secret victory dances over dates that all wrap up into one big bundle of what it means to be female, and in your early twenties.

Six bedrooms, three bathrooms and two refrigerators deep, I'm learning that I'm not so different, after all.

It's been a yes year. Yes, I will run to get onion rings and a milkshake with you, even though it's 2:30 am. Yes, I'll try that. Yes, I do like my legs in this dress, and I'll wear it even though I feel a little insecure about how short it is. Yes, I'll go on that date, that trip, that long drive to get to where you're at. It's been a, "why not?" year. Why not try therapy? Why not learn how to play golf, and then tennis? Why not go to the beach by myself for a day? And, after all, what would be so wrong about just one more of whatever it is?

Lately, I've learned that to say yes you have to say no. That a point hits where you have to be the girl that puts her foot down and says that she can't. We've all taken turns talking about her this week. You know the girl - she's "that girl." The one none of us can stand being, and all of us have taken turns feeling like we've unexpectedly morphed into. I yelled about her down the hall a few days ago. My roommate cursed her over her shoulder headed to the shower on Thursday. Another one of us groaned, "I am not that girl!" while we were unloading her car tonight, and girl number four had her moment talking about "that girl" while we were playing tennis on Tuesday morning. We bitched about that girl over volleys for a while.

The good thing about there being 8 of you is that there's always at least two people to say, "No. You're not that girl. Come on, you know that." But the truth is that sometimes we are. I was that girl today. I had one of those conversations that she would have had - the kind where you say, "I just can't. I don't know how to handle that." The kind where you admit that things that happened aren't ok, and that you don't feel fine about it all. The kind where you learn how to form the words, "I need to not have to deal with this right now," instead of trying to convince everyone that you can, and falling apart afterwards.

I remember telling me therapist about a friend who had gone to bed for two days after a conflict with a fellow colleague. I was judging her, and was stopped in my tracks when my therapist said, "What if that was the best that she could do? What if that was exactly what she should have done?"

Epiphane: what if being "that girl" is sometimes the very best that you can do, and so it's perfectly ok?

I told my roommate, last weekend, that I had turned into "that girl." We were sitting in her bed with our coffee, and she said, "I told my mom that, last night, and she said, 'what girl? I don't know who that girl is.' And I said, 'you know, that girl.' She said, 'nope. I've never met her. But whoever she is, you're judging her.'"

Then she looked at me and said, "Let's stop judging that girl. Maybe she doesn't even exist."

Au contrare - I think she exists in all of us.

I was her today. The girl who has to say she's not strong enough, big enough, over it enough to handle what's coming at her.

And being ok with being her made things run more smoothly than I ever thought they would.

I think that, maybe, that girl knows what she's doing more than often than we think she does.

It's quite possible that I could even learn to like her.


Phoenix said...

Ah. This is a brilliant post, one of my favorites of yours.

I let myself turn into a Yes Girl after being a No Girl for far too long and it's been a while since I've been honest with myself about what I can and can't handle about being a Yes Girl. Particularly the part about not being everything to everyone, even when my heart wants to.

Thank you - a million times thank you - for this post.