An open letter to the women who boldly told me “You don’t have to try so hard…”
For as far back as I can remember, I’ve found it pretty easy to let negativity and rude comments roll off my back. My mom drilled confidence into my head from day 1 and luckily, it stuck. Oddly enough, over the past few years, I’ve realized that motherhood has made me both more AND LESS confident. There are a lot of things I hold strong on and barely blink when people throw judgement, but every now and again, something hits hard. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why and where these sneaky little worries creep into my mind, but there’s no doubt that they do.
Backstory here: About once a month, Kyle and I get to have date night. I get to take my time showering and getting ready; I get to wear “normal” clothes. Sometimes – gasp — I even wear heels! This is my ONE night to feel fancy and beautiful and let my hair down (literally—it’s ALWAYS up in a bun). This past weekend, our date night was to a baseball game. I wore a Cleveland t-shirt and cut-off jean shorts. Rocked my Birkenstocks. My hair was unwashed, so I curled it (because every girl knows that dirty hair holds curl better than clean hair). I did my normal, ten-minute makeup routine, but I spiced it up with bright red lipstick. It IS date night, after all!
We met some friends for a drink at a bar outside the stadium. It was early in the evening and I made my way to the restroom. As I was washing my hands, the woman next to me complimented my makeup and while I meekly said “thank you”, I was thinking how sweet that was! I had a huge smile on my face and felt so good! She walked out… then walked BACK IN and said “You don’t have to try so hard… you’re beautiful, you know” with a nice thick layer of what can only be described as condescension. Me, being the awkward soul that I am, just giggled and thanked her while she finally walked away.
I thanked her. For what exactly, I’m not sure. I tried to brush it off as a strange, off-handed comment, but I can’t get past a few things about the situation:
- First and foremost… was that a compliment? A diss? I’m legitimately confused by this. #wtf
- If it was supposed to be a compliment, it sure didn’t feel like one. It made me feel uncomfortable and honestly, kind of bad about myself. Why do I look like I’m trying so hard? I literally barely tried. What does this mean?!
- If it was supposed to be a jab, in what world is it okay to just come at someone like that?! Women are already judged to the max 24/7; I don’t need it from a stranger in a bathroom.
Have you ever been in a situation where you weren’t sure if you were being complimented or dissed?
Received a backhanded compliment?
Made to feel uncomfortable for simply being yourself?
I feel like that is really what this all comes down to. I’ve been thinking about the whole situation a lot; wondering why the comment bothered me so much. What she said seemed to really stick to my soul (whether or not it was the way she hoped it would). I think it’s because it made me feel bad for simply being me. I wasn’t putting on a front or trying to be someone I’m not. I was being exactly myself and how I feel comfortable. NEWS FLASH, random lady in the bar bathroom: NOT COOL.
All that being said, I’m vowing to let it go. I’m vowing to remember that I am exactly who I want to be and that no one is going to dull my light. Most importantly, I am vowing to never make another woman feel the way I felt. I want other women to feel supported, strengthened, and empowered in my presence. Let’s root for each other & watch each other grow.