From the time we’re little, we’re raised to be “good girls,” to be polite, to not step on other people’s toes. It’s an insidious message that slowly suffocates our spirit.
It drowns our authentic selves, and can downright get you killed. Because there are times in life when we need to be bad- really bad! And sometimes it doesn’t make sense to be a good girl because it’s necessary to be rude.
And many times other people’s toes deserve a good stomping.
Why we diminish ourselves
I had a volatile father growing up. Anything could set him off. He’d yell when I flipped the pages of the newspaper because it created a draft. So I learned to make myself very small and to take up as little space as possible.
I was timid and insecure. If you bumped into me, I’d apologize for getting in your way. It took many years and too many incidents of assault, exploitation, and abuse for me to finally find my voice and learn to stand my ground.
When I was eighteen, I spent the summer with some friends in a suburb outside of Boston often referred to as “Slummerville.” I worked at a wine bar and used to walk home late at night through a bad part of town. By this point, enough had happened that I knew “Jenifer” was a magnet for trouble.
So I created an alter-ego. Her name was Alex. She was a real badass. She was everything I wasn’t at the time: tough, self-possessed, afraid of no one.
Claiming your space
Alex would walk those scary streets, corkscrew tight in hand. She’d mutter under her breath, “If anyone comes near me I’ll gouge their fucking eyes out!” By the time she (we) arrived at our apartment, we were in a state where we almost welcomed a fight.
Alex was a great companion to have around.
I’d pull her out like a weapon whenever I felt the slightest bit uneasy or intimidated. She was the one who would order for me at a restaurant. She’d step confidently on stage at an audition, and she wasn’t afraid to confront any man that looked at her the wrong way or appeared to pose a danger.
Over time, Alex’s self-confidence and courage left its imprint on me. I began to speak up in situations I would normally shrink from. I took on the types of challenges I would generally avoid. Eventually, I began traveling alone and eating by myself in restaurants. I stood up for myself when I was harassed or felt threatened.
Alex was a suppressed aspect of my personality. By giving her voice, she became integrated with the rest of me.
So the next time you’re feeling insecure or afraid, dig down deep and find your inner Alex.
Use her to claim your space in the world.
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