As the new year sets in naturally our minds turn to what our newest of New Year Resolutions will be. Seemingly as a woman it’s a prerequisite to have a resolution relating to our weight, our eating habits or something else vaguely pertaining to how shaggable we are. We spend our January collectively trying to mould ourselves into whatever is fashionable this year. ‘Heroin-chic’ levels of skinny, an ass to rivel the Kardashians or even a face only achievable with the help of fillers and filters. Though the trends may change year by year, the pressure does not.
As a young woman I am bombarded with ads that target our supposed defects, like ‘miracle’ weight-loss teas that will give you diarrhea for the low low price of £40 a month. And as January hits and we say “New Year, New ME baby!” these advertisements take it up a notch. Advertisers prey on our insecurities and self-imposed ‘glow-ups’ to make bank. And to that I politely say fuck off.
My new years resolution is authenticity.
As we all know too well, Coronavirus has given us a lot of time to think…and uh… think… and then think some more. One theme that keeps on popping up for me is authenticity.
I was having a video chat with my friends the other day, and one of them talked about showing up and taking up space. The idea of turning up authentically, owning it and saying here I am.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let out true selves be seen.”Brene Brown
If I am being perfectly honest, this has been something I need to be better at. At taking up space and owning it. All too often I find myself minimizing myself for others and it frustrating. Its annoying to hear myself make a statement and then follow it by ‘If you know what I mean…’ or to start a sentence by saying “sorry”. Sorry for what? For daring to speak? And let’s be honest ladies, this is something many of us do as seen in the study ‘Why women apologize more than men: gender differences in thresholds for perceiving offensive behavior’.
It is a learned behaviour, and it’s indicative of of a larger mindset of what a woman should be. We are raised to be constantly aware of how we present to others. Are we ‘lady-like’ enough? Are we likeable? And of course the constant undercurrent of ‘Do I look attractive enough?’. Is it surprising that this self-consciousness has even invaded our speech patterns.
And maybe this is why I love Bob’s Burgers so much. Every single character of the family have little to no sense of self-consciousness. They present themselves honestly, warts and all. And yet this is why we love them. The Belcher family let their freak flag fly.
One episode that explores the idea of remaining authentic to yourself is the episode named ‘Quirky Turkey’. In this episode Tina brings one of her ‘erotic friend-fiction’ stories to life for the schools Thanksgiving play. The play mimics the exclusion Tina feels after all the other kids keep on referring to her as ‘quirky’ because of her unusual appearance and mannerisms. She sings “Why can’t I be like the other turkeys? They’re all out having fun. Is it because I’m scrawny, and have glasses, and rather small-ish buns?”
The Quirky Turkey becomes upset when she realizes all the other “conventionally attractive” turkeys have been invited to dinner and she has not. But things soon take as a turn as the turkeys realise they are not there to eat a dinner….they are the dinner.
Tina sings “I used to spend my time, wishing for a plump behind. But now those birds with perfect bodies are decapitated hotties. I wished I was someone else, but it takes guts to be yourself!”
Throughout the show Tina is astoundingly weird. She writes ‘erotic-friend fiction’ starring zombies, she has an imaginary pet horse called Jerico at age 13 and her passion for the girl-scouts is unreal. It is safe to say Tina is not ‘cool’ by teen standards. But we love her. We love her weirdness, her obsession with butts and her awkward personality.
In a way, I suppose we can all relate to Tina. I know I have been described as ‘quirky’ for a lot of my life, and like Tina, it doesn’t feel like a compliment. Being called ‘quirky’ always made me feel like a loser when I was younger. It made me feel like no matter what I did, it would never have the same value as the ‘conventional’ standard, whether this be work achievements, appearance or personality. It felt like the ‘quirky’ label put a little asterisk by my name, showing how I was an outcast, regardless of what I did. Like a ‘weird’ shadow over everything I was.
But as I have got older, I’ve realised the issue wasn’t the label, it was my perception of it. Tina is a weird kid. But she doesn’t let others define her own opinion of herself. Tina continues turns up authentically, to take up space, even in the face of criticism. Or in her own words “if you wanna dazzle, you gotta take razzles. That’s a dazzling way to say risks”. And it is a risk to be yourself.
To turn up in our life authentically is scary. To say what you actually want to someone is scary. Putting yourself out there is scary. What if we are rejected, or humiliated?
Sometimes it feels easier to show up inauthentically and to not hold space. It feels less hurtful to fail if we never properly tried to start with. Maybe we think, well I didn’t do very well on that essay, but I didn’t properly try so the mark isn’t a reflection on my ‘true’ abilities. Or we say, that person I like doesn’t know who I am, but that’s only because I have never made the first move, so at least I don’t feel embarassed.
Somehow these options feel less painful at the time because we never fully put ourselves out there to fail. But what is the outcome? We don’t even have the chance of getting what we want.
Lack of action, is still an action.
Failure to take action, may mean you avoid rejection or embarrassment, but it is still a failure. We miss 100% of the shots we never take.
And this is the loveable thing about Tina, she takes every single shot she wants. Tina likes a boy, so she tells him. She wants a job, she applies and gives her 100%. Tina is her own biggest cheerleader.
And maybe this is a sign of these strange quarantine times, but I aspire to be more like Tina. I aspire to show up authentically and stand by that decision. To stay weird. Even if everyone around me thinks I am strange, or doesn’t like me, or doesn’t invite me to their dinner because I am a “quirky Turkey”.
Maybe I am a ‘Quirky Turkey’, and you know what, I’m cool with that. I refuse to let the labels of small-minded individuals define how I feel about myself. We only have one life to live, and I am going to live it my way!
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”E.E. Cummings
I suppose this is why my blog has taken a more personal tone. It is my expression of my authenticity, even if it is anonymous.
So I pledge to my future self, I am going to wear my weird outfits and wear them with pride when I walk into a room. I am going to own my opinions, my plans and my hobbies, even if other people are consistently bemused. And I am going to remain true to myself, to hold space and remain authentic. I am going to stay weird.
Song of the day about authenticity is A quien le importa– an absolute banger!
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