It's not that I haven't been writing. I have been, but most of what's been written hasn't succumbed to careful revision. I have things to say, but most of it is the kind of stuff that people just don't say out loud. I feel like I need to be careful with my words, particularly when I write about my experience of being female. I feel the urge to counter each potential criticism and/or dismissal of my experience of the world before it's even raised. But it occurred to me the other day that the most potent defense I can make is that my experience is mine in the same way that my body is mine. You can judge it, you can believe that you wouldn't feel/react/experience the world in the same way if you were in the same position, and you might be right, and you're free to do that. But the second you feel compelled to devalue me or dismiss me, feel free to stop reading and not come back. because seriously.
I kind of like how this just keeps repeating in the background in an infinite loop...
Ok, so now that we've established that.
I keep having this conversation with a few of my friends, and I've been having it for years, (at least since my early 30's), and it's about loneliness. Deep, crushing loneliness. This kind of loneliness:
I love gifs. I'm coming to believe they're a kind of art form. I digress.
Ok, so here are some patterns I've noticed about these conversations. I only have them with a certain kind of woman (never dudes). All of these women have achieved a lot in their life, and give their all to what they are and do. They run marathons; they do mind-blowing, courageous art; they are dedicated and intense; and they'll do things other people won't because they're confident in their skills and intelligence. They tend to speak their mind and believe what they say. Most of them are gorgeous, too.
In other words... they're intimidating as fuck to a lot of people.
I am only marginally one of those women, and if I do share certain qualities with them, it isn't because I was born with them. I learned how to be less fearful and more dedicated to the things I invest my time in from other women who were like that. For the longest time, I had no idea why women like that would want to hang out with an insecure, unskilled, mildly insane person like me. However, as time has gone by and I've gained my own measure of success, both personally and professionally, I think I'm starting to get it...Those ladies hang out with me because I enjoy hanging out with them. Personally, I don't understand why anyone wouldn't want to, even if they are intimidating.
I remember once posting a particularly nice picture of myself on facebook, and someone in my age group (a dude!) made a comment saying that I should stop posting pics like that, because it made them feel bad about aging like a normal person. Another friend in my age group (a lady!) said, "No, keep posting those pics! You're increasing the property value for the rest of us!" (I didn't take down the pic, and wouldn't have anyway, because that's just... why would I do that?)
THERE. That's the conversation I keep having with these amazing women in a nutshell. They don't understand why you don't want to hang out with them either, but actually, we all do, don't we? Those ladies aren't confident in a way that makes us confident, so they're arrogant. They keep not capitulating in going after their highest purpose, even though that makes you question your very existence and kicks you in the feels, so they're insensitive. They are especially insensitive when they try to talk you out of your dedication to mediocrity and laziness. And they're pretty, so they're also huge whores. Who would want to hang out with that mess?
And it's not like these ladies haven't tried to change. They have. They don't talk about their successes around you. They try to amplify their flaws, they question every motive, they go overboard trying to protect your light-sensitive eyes from their torch. They are masters at hiding who they are while still trying to be who they are because they intrinsically have to be.
The punishment for being who they really are is shunning, and that is a horrifying place to be for any woman. We aren't socialized to be alone, and it's not practical to be alone when you're doing potentially life ending things like having babies or living in Wisconsin in January. But after a while, and after a woman like that has made her money and achieved other kinds of social buffers, that woman stops giving a shit about you. And that's a shame, too, because that's maybe the point where the rest of us need her to mentor us the most, after she's fully come into her own.
And in the meantime, we have to wonder who she would have been if she hadn't spent so much time worrying about how you feel.
And here's another thing that I've learned from them... I am one of them. Having these women in my life has given me the impetus to try to find my own limits. I don't compare myself to them, which has led to real self-acceptance, but I've also surprised the shit out of myself because it turns out that I'm capable of so much more than I thought I was. But I, too, have had to pay a price for actually living an inspirational quotes Pinterst board in real life. I don't have as many friends. New friendships take longer, and are fraught with mine fields. As a consequence, I am willing to hang with the people who are willing to hang with me, warts and all. The upside seems to be that although there aren't as many people in my life, the ones who are left are exceptional. I'll take it.