It’s true that I loved – and I mean LOVED – the Spice Girls when I was 11 (ok 12). Alright, fine, maybe I was 13. In fact there is a picture floating around somewhere of me and a few friends dressed as them and lip syncing a choreographed live performance at a friend’s summer family picnic. I was Sporty Spice, obvi. And yes, my signature Sporty high kick was on point, and yes, it was completely mortifying.
Why am I talking about this iconic 90’s girl group and classic awkward tween Jess moment? Because “girl power”, that’s why. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the amazing group of women that have become influencers in the world today and in my daily life, and that it actually surprises me that I value them so much.
For a long time I felt like I would never be a girl’s girl. I was always “one of the guys”, partly because I though out made me sound cool, but also because I found girls to be kind of… well, mean for most of my young adult life. I wasn’t ever lucky enough to be one of those naturally pretty/thin/sweet girls that people gravitated towards. I was tall, loud, and pretty much always felt like a square peg in a world of round holes. Even when I was part of a group, I always felt like the odd man out. Sure, I would find a few people here and there whom I felt really understood me and didn’t mind my my quirks. And not the adorable kind of quirks, the kind that make you want to be homeschooled after people find out you watch Anne of Green Gables with your mom instead of MTV, which you don’t even have because your parents blocked it. (Just to be clear, I loved watching those movies with my mom and totally understand now why they thought Singled Out was inappropriate for a 10 year old. But you see what I mean.) And honestly I think those friendships formed solely over a bond of feeling “different”.
SO. I’m writing all this to say that as I continue to move into my 30’s (AHHH)… I find myself actually seeking out women in my life to motivate and support me. And through doing so I’ve realized that I’m not the only one who felt the way I did – kind of a loner, desperately wanting to fit in, despite a false confidence that screamed otherwise. I think I was always a bit of a “floater” because I was afraid of getting too close to any one friend for fear they’d turn on me and tell all my secrets. (Now I realize how much of a mistake that was and the value that female friendships have to offer.)
I’ve found so much comfort through reading books that divulge the trials of some of my favorite similarly off-beat women (Tina Fey, Mindy Kahling and can’t wait to read Amy Poehler’s!) that have made me actually feel validated having gone through similar experiences. Every day I read the blogs of women that have built incredible careers and built their own successes for themselves, and I want to have Sex & the City style drinks with them all and have them spill all their secrets. (Like her, her and her.) And not to mention the amazingly wonderful friends, family and mentors I’m blessed to have. (I hope you know who you are.)
What I find to be crazy is that every time i have this conversation with another woman, they pretty much know exactly what I’m talking about. So this tells me two things: A. I’m not a special snowflake and growing up is hard for everyone, and B. there needs to be more. More conversations with girls about how to be nicer to each other. More opportunities for young women to find mentors that can help them navigate through their sometimes fun but more often tumultuous early 20’s. More discussions on how to work together professionally and not root against each other, or get caught up in jealously or competition. More celebrations of each other’s successes and support during challenges.
I know… This is a bit of a kumbaya/Mean Girls moment, but I feel like it’s an issue that needs discussed. I think there’s been a lot of amazing progress and I really hope to see it continue. Especially since we’ve decided to try and have children, I think about if I had a girl of my own and what I’d want the world to be like for her. And even though that might not happen anytime soon, or at all, in the meantime I think we can all probably agree we can do a little more. And at the very least we can be sure and thank those who do.