We All Have Our Own S***

Before I say anything, I have to tell you that I have discovered two super-awesome blogs.  They're completely different: Allie's is witty, autobiographical nerd-chic filled with cartoons; Hannah's is straight up words.  Allie is satirical and Hannah is sentimental. But they're both such gifted wordsmiths.  You have to check them out.
 

And then there’s me.   Just sorta muddling through trying to make my thoughts pretty.

 

Like today.  I was thinking a lot about how I was raised.

 

A lot of little girls are raised to believe they are a Pretty Princess.
 
I was not.
 
I did not hear every day that I was the prettiest/smartest girl in the world, or that I was daddy's/mommy's Number 1 Pretty Princess, Ruler of PrettyPrincessVille. I had this conversation over wine with some girlfriends the other night, and I felt really grateful that I wasn't raised to believe it. I feel like I've learned so many more things about myself.

There have been plenty of times in my life when I thought, this is not fair! I want someone to tell me I am the best at everything and spoil me and put me up on a pedestal! And then I realized that my parents had done a very good job at raising me to be realistic. When I genuinely did well or looked nice, I got a compliment; when I genuinely didn't - well, I didn't. By 8, I knew life wasn't always fair, but by 15 I knew that you could still work hard and be positive and end up getting a lot of places you hoped to go, anyway.
 
Besides, I really don't like the color pink.
 
I am The White Sheep of the Family. White, not Black, because although I do tend to have the opposing opinion on a lot of things, it's usually not negative. In fact, it's usually Pragmatic & Positive. I'm not going out doing a bunch of drugs (in fact, the only "substances" I've ever "used" regularly are wine and coffee. Oh, and maybe some vodka or tequila when the party presented itself.) I only have a few small tattoos. I've always had a steady job, often with the chance to advance, and I finished high school, college, and (some day) grad school - even though I had to work my way through all of them. But  man, do I bring the opposing viewpoints.  So maybe I thought that, to be a Pretty Princess, you have to fit in.
 
I  grew up with this idea (however mistaken) that Pretty Princesses were perfect, petite little misses. (Don’t blame this on my parents – while there was a time that I longed to be Ruler of PrettyPrincessVille, they never once told me one couldn’t be pretty, smart, and strong all at the same time.)
 
No, my idea corresponded both with what society showed me and with my knowledge that I was neither perfect nor petite, combined with My Own Shit.
 
We all have Our Own Shit.
 
Throughout my teens and twenties I struggled with this. I fluctuated from almost a size 4 to almost a 16.  I desperately wanted to wear the cute clothes, the belly ring, the bikini. I wanted to be the Hot Girl.  But, for all my fitness (I’ve been working out regularly since I was about 13 and I ate a mostly vegan diet until I left home at 18), my body just didn’t grow into that shape.  I sure tried to force it into that shape, too: pills, low fat, low carb, only having 1 cheat day, drinking smoothies – you name it.
 
When I found out my thyroid was to be removed in 2010, I was already at my heaviest, so I was certain my chances to be svelte and sexy had ended.  I mean, without a thyroid, I was surely going to just be huger and tired-er, rightBut the opposite happened; for the first time in almost 10 years, my weight finally settled.  This change was augmented by the natural progression of 7 years of running and triathlon training. Basically, with the right meds, my sluggish metabolism finally caught up. 
 
And then after I realized that I had cancer, my attitude (slowly) caught up.
 
You know what hasn’t changed? I am still not what you’d picture when you think of a triathlete.  People still blink disbelievingly when I say I’ve completed 6 marathons.  I have big old legs and hips and a badonka donk.  Having Big Boobs isn’t all fun and games:  I practically give myself black eyes when running, even with the right sports bra, and they don’t look anything like the perfect fake ones.  But, for the first time in my adult life, it doesn’t bother me. When my coworkers obsess about eating that cookie or piece of pizza, I kind of laugh.  If I haven’t already worked out that day, I’m either working out later that night or I’m working out the next day. That doesn’t give me carte blanche to inhale whatever I want, but it DOES give me carte blanche Not to Give a Damn if I Want a Cookie or Two.
 
Another triathlon friend told me a story about how someone looked right at her when she mentioned completing her 3rd or 4th 70.3 race and said wow, I thought you’d be skinnier than that.  There was a day when that would offend me. There was a time last year when someone larger than me compared our sizes, and that offended me.
 
But once I decided to Own My Shit, I didn’t really give one anymore.
 
I used to be all up on the Curvy Girl Bandwagon.  I would repost my favorite slogans about embracing your curves and pictures lamenting why today’s celebs are now so thin compared to 1950s bombshells.  Now I look at those and I shrug.  I shrug because I think there’s something beautiful about all of us.  I shrug because part of the reason I was so quick to defend the Curvy was because I felt defensive about being Curvy.  While I still think that models and celebs give us an unrealistic idea of what we can look like, and I still roll my eyes when a trainer posts a picture of 8-pack abs and admonishes her clients that they can look however they want to look if they just eat clean, I’m more irritated about the lack of realism and the emphasis on the shallow.  I think, some of us just can’t genetically do that.  And I think, you won’t always look good at The Club, so stop worrying about working out your Oontzin’ Muscles.  Instead, work out your Smiling Muscles. Work out your I’m an Awesome Badass Muscles.  Eat to make sure you live longer, not to make sure your biceps glisten just right.  And, for the love of God, if you’re going to live until 90, you’re not going to do it by being miserable, so if you want a beer or a chicken wing every now and then, eat one!
 
You know what else hasn’t changed?  I still get turned down or passed by when the Hot Guy is looking for the Hot Girl.  But I realized a lot of things; among them, that even being the Right Size wouldn’t guarantee me anything in life.  And you know what?  The Hot Girl has fat days, too.  You know how I know this?  I know this because I’ve had “skinny” friends who were just as insulted at being called “skinny” as I was at being called “fat,” and they had “fat” days, too.  More than that: I know this because I really know the difference between Hiding from My Shit and Owning My Shit.
 
And even though I Own My Shit, I have some fat and ugly days, too. 
 
So that means we all do.
 
No one is perfect.  Not even the Ruler of PrettyPrincessVille.
 
You know what else hasn’t changed? 
 
I still don’t really like the color pink.

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