Allow Yourself to Be Many, Many Things

While promoting her new film, “Booksmart” at the Bumble SXSW Hive last month, director Olivia Wilde said:

“Why does it make us comfortable to immediately identify a beautiful woman as stupid? A strong woman as unfeminine? A smart woman as not fun? If we are doing that to others, it means we are definitely doing it to ourselves. Allow yourself to be many, many things.”

Even as I sit here now typing her quote for you to read, I can feel the tug at my heartstrings. Not only because I have been on the receiving end of similar criticisms, i.e.: I’m pretty so I must be an actress not a screenwriter, I’m too forceful in the workplace and should be more ladylike, and quite literally being called a square by more people than I can count. Not only because I have jumped to similar judgments of my fellow women.

But largely because I have definitely done it to myself.

Over the years, I allowed the voices of others in my head to grow louder than my own. I allowed the circumstances of my upbringing as the daughter of a career military man in high-standing to dictate my behavior lest my parents’ position in the community or my father’s career be put at risk. I allowed the want of peace at home to keep me quiet and suppress expression of my personality. And later as I grew up, I allowed this to continue on into my marriage, my romantic relationships thereafter, and even some of my friendships. So much so that when I would actually “peek through”, to others I was a “different person”. I allowed my anxiety to take over. I allowed my depression to get in the way. I believed all the excuses I was fed that kept me in a box that was built by other people to contain what shouldn’t be locked up.

While I forgive everyone who intentionally or inadvertently had a hand in it taking me so long to reach this point, more importantly, I forgive myself. Or at least, I’m working to.

And I’m done. I am reclaiming who I am, growing into who I will be, and allowing myself to be many, many things.

Stay tuned.