Comparable

How did you read the title of this blog post?

Did you read it as “compare-able”? As in, oranges and apples are not “compare-able” because they are obviously two different fruits, you knucklehead?

Or did you read it as “comprable”? As in, these M. Night Shyamalan movies are “comprable” because they both have terribly obvious “twist” endings.

I know, I know. The second pronunciation is correct, but for whatever reason, I say these words in different ways depending on my meaning. To me, “comprable” is something lesser. If something is “comprable,” you are compromising by choosing it. It’s like saying,
“I’ll have both if it makes you happy, but I’d really like the first one.” Whereas “compare-able” means something like, “Those two things are the same, and it doesn’t matter to me which one you pick.”

And quite literally, this is semantics…that I’ve made up in my head. There is some perceived distinction in wordplay within this word for me that isn’t there at all.

And yet, this word has completely ruled my life in an imaginary way. Until today.

Okay, here it is, plain and simple: I am a human, and so I compare myself to other humans. Not in a “why is she so rich and perfect and I’m not,” way. More like, “why am I so awkward, I just said “I’m good” when she didn’t say “how are you?” way. And so, I’m constantly wondering if people find me “compare-able,” as in someone similar to a person they have met before, but generally a dime a dozen, or if I am “comprable,” meaning that they could be hanging out with someone much cooler, but they’ve lost interest in their own life and they might as well compromise their best interests before they come to their senses.

But I realized something today: when you are truly yourself, when you are really who you are inside and out, you can’t be comparable or comparable. Because there is no one that will ever be exactly like you and you’re not compromising anything when you can be yourself.

And suddenly, the pressure was off. I didn’t have to think about being too this or too that. I could just be me, and there were no words to describe me, whether they had multiple pronunciations or not.

Because when you defy the boxes and labels that people try to put you in or on you, some members of the outside world become frightened or confused. But most people? They’re just dazzled that you have the confidence to be yourself. And they haven’t got any notion of what you were once or what you should be. You’re just you. And they’re speechless.

I Can’t Even

Author’s Note: I’m sorry about the lapse, absence, and neglect that has occurred on this blog. It was truly not my intention. But alas, life happened. I hope that I will greet you with more regularity in the future. I say “hope” because that is all I can offer as of now. 

 

I think us ladies have come a long way from “damsels in distress,” right? I mean, we’ve overcome some serious oppression (which was basically meted out to us by the fashion industry that put us into those uncomfortable petticoats and weird shoes). Now, we can vote, wear pants, and think for ourselves (the horror!). We’ve burned a few bras and generally raised hell in the name of equality.

So, why is there still stuff we (women) “can’t” do? (I use the word “can’t” very liberally, mind you.) I mean it more in the way that why aren’t we taught to do all of the same stuff? Forget breaking glass ceilings, why can’t we rip down the curtain that separates the sexes?

Because whether we like it or not, there are commonly certain tasks that are simply relegated to the male or female sex and so are passed over when one individual is provided with an education, either formal or otherwise.

I’ve become painfully aware of this since moving out with my fiancee. I pride myself as a woman who isn’t afraid to do a job that is generally perceived as “man’s work,” or whatever that means in the 21st century (which is a statement that I know subjects me to the same sexist ideals I’m trying to fight.) But the thing is that I never really learned a lot of those tasks, or was really interested in learning them, for that matter.

I don’t know how to hammer nails, for instance. Not that it’s particularly hard, but for some reason, my father was always in charge of such things. Wiring wires and screwing screws. These were simply things that I had missed, gaps as sure as the holes in the walls that my father used to make. And if I needed to do these tasks, it was easy enough to ask him to help or to do it for me.

But that was then. Now, nothing on this Earth makes me more frustrated–feeling like I can’t do something because some type of biological obstacle is in my way, either real or perceived. (Men are stronger, women are more adept at conversation, blah blah blah). But what’s really bothering me is that I feel ignorant for not trying to learn. For accepting the fact that someone (some man, perhaps, although I’d never voice it that way) would come along and help me do whatever it was that I needed doing. That I can’t even because I had never wanted to.

And maybe that was the right use of wording before…”pride.” Maybe I’m just being prideful by not wanting anyone to help me. But I also think that it’s quieter than that. A small discovery of not my own physical weakness (I can swing an axe if I tried, I think?), but a weakness of the mind, thinking that I didn’t need to try and learn.

Because although I hate being ignorant, I hate being helpless so much more.

And so, it is high time to leave off the stays of oppression of my mind, in which I simply wait to be rescued. It’s time to let down the rope (or my hair, whichever is available) and worry not about ceilings, but climbing down off pedestals to have level ground to stand on.

War Paint

Let me tell you a little bit about myself (as if I don’t do that every night).

When I was younger, I was a tomboy, which is a term that I don’t even agree with. But if I had to describe myself in a context that most people would understand, I would proceed to tell you that I mostly chose sports over dresses. I chose books over Barbies. I chose being dirty over taking showers, every time. I pretended that I wasn’t a “girl,” and all that it does or does not imply.

And, of course, that meant that I forewent all makeup. No eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow, foundation, blush. Nothing. (I had enough on my face with glasses and braces.) Who even had time for all of that when there was homework to do? Why wake up an hour early to paint your face when you had gym for your first class? What was the point of all that effort?

So, I continued to arrive fresh faced at school while I slipped quickly into the bathroom and out, as a line of my peers applied lip gloss and shadow with their fingertips. They would make kissy faces in the mirrors on their lockers, chatting with each other. It was like a secret society that I was on the outskirts of, without the tools to communicate.

Except, I exiled myself. There was no reason that I couldn’t join in. I simply chose not to, and so armored myself against it all. I perceived makeup as vapid and shallow. I then convinced myself that the people who wore it were only trying to beautify their outsides to make up (pun intended) for their insides. I told myself that I would never, ever be so self-conscious that I would carry around lipstick, just in case I needed a touch-up, just in case someone started to see through it all to the real me.

So, what happened to little, proud BaileyDailey? She grew up, and she grew up. She realized that it was stupid to judge people on their appearance, no matter how they chose to enhance or detract from it. She realized that makeup was actually for people who were completely confident in who they were and simply wanted to transform themselves into something else. She realized that makeup was war paint, a challenge to the rest of the world to smudge her lipstick, to smear her mascara. It was also a promise that she would still come back, looking flawless.

Today, I still don’t wear a ton of makeup. I still don’t know what the best brands to use are. I still can’t put on liquid eyeliner perfectly on the first try. But I’ve stopped rolling my eyes when I see that other people do. As women, we need to raise each other up. But more than that, as people, we need to learn how to learn from each other.

So, when I kissed and made up with makeup, I matured as a human being. I stopped giving the snake eye to the smoky eye. I quit giving lip to lip liner. But most of all, I stopped confusing the content of someone’s character for the color of their eyeshadow.