I've been thinking a lot about a recent article about #luckiestgirl which describes the use and popularity of the phrase luckiest girl on social media. The article (which can be found here: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/09/luckygirl-hashtag-instagram/406420/) states that the hashtag, which has been used over a million times on Instagram, and has now inspired a book, represents women's need to feel "effortlessly perfect" and of course, social media is a breeding ground for misrepresentation of the truth and the projection of perfection. It seems women are unable to take credit when credit is due, or feel that demonstrating having put forth effort somehow demeans the overall accomplishment. The article concludes with a quote from actress and comedian Mindy Kaling who says that for adults, admitting that one is working hard is a "weird thing."
It comes as no surprise that men use the word lucky, and hash tag it, significantly less than women. Or should I say girls. (Seriously, it should come as no surprise, if you know me, or have read more than one of my blog posts, that it's ridonkulous that women refer to themselves as girls. How many men do you know call themselves boys?)It seems, to me, that men can demonstrate their hard work, their blood, sweat, tears and grit. It's a sign of their strength and perseverance. On the other hand, women, in many avenues of their life, aren't supposed to show the effort behind the final product. For example, how a woman looks. That hair. That make-up. The goal is to make it seem natural, like she just woke up, jumped out of bed, and has perfectly curled hair and bright eyes. What about dinner? Women make amazing meals, in minutes, and do it with perfectly curled hair and mascara that never gets melty from the heat of a kitchen. Heaven forbid a woman reference how much time she spent in the kitchen preparing a meal. The receiver of such a comment (who is probably sitting on the couch, drinking beer) likely thinks the woman is a fool and wasted her time. The list goes on: a clean house, well-behaved children, those 10 pounds lost, the promotion, that marathon she ran (Hold that, because yes, with that specific one, I'm talking about myself.)- it was all done with ease and grace. Yes, grace. Women don't sweat, right? Ah, just writing this makes me cringe because there are just so many clichés about this. Damn deodorant commercials- strong enough for a man but made for a woman? Because women should never, ever sweat.
Then, there's me. I've had a chip on my shoulder since I was a teenager. Me and my poor life. For some weird reason I've had an attitude about who I am and what I've earned. I put it all out there, including in this blog. I am that woman, that annoying, annoying woman who doesn't hide that I have shed tears, and blood, and have sweat to get where I am. Like running. I'm such an ass about running. Nothing irks me more than someone who says that running for me is easy. I might suggest that the person join me on a January day when the temp reaches zero and the it's me and the plow on the road. I ran a marathon because I trained for it. Day after day. Mile after mile. I ran a marathon not because I was lucky. I got my promotion because I stuck it out and advocated for myself. My house is clean because I clean it. My hair looks nice because I spend tons of money getting it cut and dyed and buying styling products and then I spend 20 minutes every morning fussing with it so that it looks sort of messy and naturally kinda curly. (Again, if you know me, this is a giant accomplishment for me. I cried for an hour and watched 20 You Tube videos on how to use a flat iron.) I got good grades in school, and a scholarship to college, because I worked hard. I studied a ton. I won that scholarship. I earned those grades.
Yes, I'm sounding arrogant, aren't I? I'm sick of hearing myself think this out right now. Wouldn't I sound much better if I was less up front about the effort? If I was more humble about my accomplishments? No way! I'm not lucky. That's crap, right?
After reading the article, I asked Andy if he feels he is lucky, or more specifically the luckiest boy. He told me that, no, he does not credit luck to any of his professional or personal accomplishments. He earned those and he could care less if getting there seemed effortless. Then, he said, "But, I'm lucky because of my parents." That's right. So, while I totally agree with the Atlantic article and am all in support of not allowing myself, as a woman, to devalue my accomplishments, I can't help but feel frustrated with the topic, which some people might call "First World" Problems."
Remember that chip? That grew when I was a kid and I lived in a bubble and thought I was the most important person in the world. For years, I was pissed about being a lower middle class kid, like that was the worst thing that could ever happen to a human being. How dare my mother not buy me Guess jeans and buy me a horse? What a bitch! Then I grew up and opened my eyes. I met people who showed me what blood, sweat and tears really means. I learned the real definition of perseverance and grit. I'm not saying I don't have either but they've never been truly tested. People like the woman I met who spent her life in a refugee camp, whose family hid in a cave so they wouldn't be killed, and then moved to the US, leaving her family behind in the camp, and learned English and earned a scholarship to college only a few years after she'd seen a toilet. Oh, and is now dedicating her life's work to bettering the lives of refugees in the US and in camps around that world. Yeah, that's grit. People like the man I met who is putting himself through school and his kids while taking care of his two ailing parents. People who are fighting cancer, fighting other illnesses, lose parents, lose children. Lose everything they own in a flood or fire. People who rise from the ashes, who keep going even when they didn't think they could. People who persevere because they know something better is waiting for them. Yeah, that's grit. People who know something is better, waiting for them, as long as they are lucky enough to get there. Even those who have faced hell often feel lucky because there's something super powerful about the process of the human fight.
I ran a marathon because I trained. And because I am healthy and I have money and time to do something just for myself. I have nice hair because I have the time and money to style it. (I cried because I couldn't use a flat iron! That was the toughest part of my week!) I went to a good school because my parents took care of me. They clothed and fed me and worried for me so that all I had to do was think about bettering myself. I got good grades because I enjoyed school, because it was easy for me. Learning was easy for me. Nothing was in my way of getting good grades. I studied hard because I didn't have to worry about being cold or hungry or unsafe. I got a scholarship to go to college and then I didn't get a job and I moved home and lived with my parents for free for four months. They never once told me I'd disappointed them. I got a promotion, sure. At the job where I get to spend all day mentoring college students and working alongside passionate, caring people who bring me chai and make banana bread. Then I go home to my healthy, beautiful family in a safe, clean neighborhood, in a warm house that I can pay for because I have a good job because I went to a good college that my parents helped me get into because they did everything they possibly could to make sure that all I had to do as a kid was think about myself.
I think you get my point. I'm proud as hell about who I am and what I've accomplished. I've set goals and I've met them. But, I am not naïve. Every night, when I sneak into Caro's and Char's room and place my hand on their chests and listen to the gentle lull of their breath and then I tuck myself into my warm bed in my safe house, I say thank you. Thank you to my parents, to Andy's parents, to my family and friends and my children. As I drift to sleep I know I am the #luckiest girl.