Monday, March 1, 2010

If only every girl could hear this...

This morning with a couple free moments to spare before the day began its snowball effect of children, meals, and cleaning, and as much writing as I can possibly squeeze in, I looked to my Glamour magazine for some eye candy to help wake my tired eyes. Free moments for such guilty pleasures are rare, and to prove this, I'll just tell you that I am on day three of even getting through the magazine!

During my escape, I came across the short editorial titled "The Most Important 433 Words to Read This Month." Enraptured with the title I continued to delve. Just three words in and she had me.

"Dear Emotional Creature,

I believe in you. I believe in your authenticity, your uniqueness, your intensity, your wilderness. I love the way you dye your hair purple, or hike up your short skirt, or blare your music while you lip-sync every memorized lyric. I love your restlessness and your hunger. You possess the energy that, if unleashed, could transform, inspire, and heal the world.

Everyone seems to have a certain way they want you to be — your mother, father, teachers, religious leaders, politicians, boyfriends, fashion gurus, celebrities, girlfriends. In reporting my new book, I learned a very disturbing statistic: 74% of young women say they are under pressure to please everyone.

I have done a lot of thinking about what it means to please: to be the wish or will of somebody other than yourself. To please the fashion setters, we starve ourselves. To please men, we push ourselves when we aren’t ready. To please our parents, we become insane over-achievers. If you are trying to please, how do you take responsibility for your own needs? How do you even know what your own needs are? The act of pleasing makes everything murky. We lose track of ourselves. We stop uttering declaratory sentences. We stop directing our lives. We forget what we know. We make everything OK rather than real.

I have had the good fortune to travel around the world. Everywhere I meet teenage girls and women giggling, laughing as they walk country roads or hang out on city streets. Electric girls. I see how their lives get hijacked, how their opinions and desires get denied and undone. So many of the women I have met are still struggling late into their lives to know their desires, to find their way.

Instead of trying to please, this is a challenge to provoke, to dare, to satisfy your own imagination and appetite. To take responsibility for who you are, to engage. Listen to the voice inside you that might want something different. It’s a call to your original self, to move at your own speed, to walk with your step, to wear your color.

It has taken me so many years to be OK with being different, with being this alive, this intense. I just don’t want you to have to wait that long.

Eve Ensler. "

If only Eve Ensler's encouragement, praise, understanding and advice could be heard by every girl, I believe there could be a re-awakening--for every girl and woman who is struggling in some way, small or big to live life deeply and richly AUTHENTIC.

For the last year, I've been attempting to peel back the layers of my own authenticity in the fullness that I know it exists, and try and examine where there are gaps and blank spaces. It is a daunting task to try and recover where along my path I may have been disrupted or deterred in living a FULL and authentic life. Because the truth is, I am still working to claim this sort of life for my self.

My teenage years were quite rough. School bullying and immense pressure to adhere to religious views that didn't necessarily line up with my spiritual beliefs are just two reasons that had me overcome. The pressure to-be or to not-be and to please others was consuming and devastating for me as a teenager. I felt like I had to grow up fast as I was challenged to ask myself BIG questions of WHO AM I? and WHO AM I NOT? (even when they say I am), while other kids appeared to be relishing in the moments of school sports and boy crushes. It caused many a storms and numerous gray clouds continued to hang their dreary loom over my life for many years.

Over those years, I attempted to confront the struggle that was happening inside me, and understand where I let myself down and how my vulnerability made me susceptible to an enormous lack of confidence, depression and unhealthy relationships. Grappling with the situation felt like a battle that I may never win nor understand. I remember thinking...I'll get to it all one day. I know it all has to be sorted out, but, right now, I am too tired. I'll do it when I have the energy. Eventually, it was through a series of people, life-altering events and a new-found faith that I began to heal and was able to begin to create my authentic life.

I was both surprised and not at Ensler's statistic that "74 percent of young women say they are under pressure to please everyone."

One day when I was living in Utah during my first two years of college, I went to the scrapbook store. I was big into scrap booking at the time and spent much of my free time creating memory books for the years gone by. While I waited in line to make my purchases, my eyes could hardly ignore the fact that behind the cash register on a tall shelf were twelve or so glass canisters of different flavored home-made suckers--and beautiful I might add. I deliberated for a few moments, scanning over their flavor names, but as with many other instances in life, I struggled to make a decision. So instead of asking the kind employee to add a sucker to my bag of goodies, I decided I didn't care anyway and headed for home.
When I returned back to my apartment and found my roommate, Heather, whom I've known since second grade, I began to explain the sucker saga. It wasn't because I was suckerless that I was upset. It was the sheer fact that I felt so frazzled and indecisive when trying to choose a flavor that I could hardly believe that it stressed me out the way it did. Actually, it stressed me out so much, that I opted to ditch the whole idea and deprive myself of the sweet indulgence!
Silly sucker story, I know, but it was then that I realized that something was seriously wrong with my ability to make decisions for myself, and do so decisively...and when appropriate--quickly.
The reason that I share this sucker story is that I've been in that place when I wanted to please the masses. I wanted to be this, that and more, and the results were devastating to my contentment. I was frazzled, frustrated, living life less-than authentic. I was gaping in places that needed fulfillment. I tuned out of my own life and was living elsewhere, listening to others, contributing to their life, while failing my own. I did so until it all became too painful and I began unraveling even further than I thought possible, and began to see that the living and breathing I'm doing is for my SELF. I realized, as much as it seemed that others' happiness meant my happiness, I was wrong. I had been living a false belief that needed a quick overhaul.
My roommate, Heather found my sucker story silly, too, but she caught wind of the fact that I was teetering on the edge of some big changes. A couple of days later, with all of the love and kindness in her heart, Heather came to me with not one, but THREE suckers! "Now you don't have to choose just one!" she said. She was right! Who said I could only have one?
I'll never forget Heather's thoughtfulness and kindness that day, or the support she gave me when I packed my bags and moved back to Washington the following summer without her. She's been just one of the many who have watched me struggle and fall and climb back up time and time again. She's a gem of a friend and I will attest that she is an AUTHENTIC soul, who encourages others to be the same.

Becoming more each and every day,

FYI: I wrote most of this post over two weeks ago--sorry for the delay.


b davis March 2, 2010 at 5:50 AM  

Cassie you are such a beautiful soul. I love this post. Thank you for sharing this. It is beautiful to see your journey. And I love the beginning and how so many of us can relate to it. It is definitely something I will share with Annjelica. Much love to you.

shannon March 2, 2010 at 5:42 PM  

Cassie I love this for so many reasons... I have a "sucker story" or two of my own and this really makes me stop and think... thank you for your beautiful words and inspiration!

Keri March 2, 2010 at 7:14 PM  

Cassie, I'm glad you got to enjoy not only 1, but 3 suckers. What's life anyway without a little sweetness?! You're so good at expressing yourself. Every time I read your writing I'm amazed at your eloquence and thoughtfulness. Thanks for always inspiring.

The Neo-Traditionalist March 4, 2010 at 4:32 AM  

Oh my goodness---I got goosebumps reading her letter! I love it! It rings so true! I'm going to keep all she said in mind as I go about my day. Thank you for sharing this. XO

Tammy March 10, 2010 at 8:16 AM  

I can't get enough of you! Each time I read something you write, I learn something. Thanks for being so open and sharing of your experiences.

Swirly March 17, 2010 at 1:30 PM  

This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing all of this.

Ana* October 1, 2010 at 7:20 AM  

Thanks for sharing such an inspiring story, I can relate

“You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ― Ray Bradbury
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