Thursday, February 16, 2006

New Math

My posting has been sparse and unreliable of late, and by way of explanation, I present this mathematical equation:

(Fashion Magazines)0 = (Posting)0

Obviously this requires a bit of description for the reader, so this post will be a treatise on the nature of that equation. Hang on to your hats, eggheads!

At Monday's counseling session I cried a lot. My therapist had mentioned at our previous session that this would be a session on self esteem. Why was I nervous? My inner voice should have been saying things like "DUDE, YOU GET TO TALK ABOUT HOW AWESOME YOU ARE!" Instead I had this low-level fear whenever I thought of it. What would I say? What did I really think of myself? Where did my impressions of myself come from? After the major work projects of previous weeks were finally done, there was nothing pressing to distract me. I missed distraction.

So back to the session. I realized that many of my personal struggles came through puberty. DUH, doesn't everyone hate it? What about my experience made it horrible? Before that event I had been a happy, normal kid. Perhaps I had a little TOO much self esteem. OKAY, I WAS A BOSSY LITTLE KNOW-IT-ALL. But after the advent of breasts (I SAID IT!) and torment over periods (I SAID THAT, TOO!) and strange stares from boys and men I was thoroughly disarmed - what was happening that people thought they could treat me like that? Why was my body both out to get me and the sum total of a stranger's interest in me? Why was having male best friends so suspicious (until that point all my best friends had been of the lad variety)? Suddenly I had to feel like being good in school was a problem. Later, when I was homeschooled during middle school, I had extremely conservative elements of the support groups (usually the majority or a vocal minority of any group) telling me how inferior my judgment was about life and romance and that I should leave my marriage decision to my father and not question his authority. WHAT? I mean, I loved my dad and I could almost trust him to do that for me, but why should I? Didn't I think and feel and reason, too? What, did estrogen destroy brain waves or something? The more I talked on Monday, the more I realized how betrayed I felt by my fellow Christians, by the faith I held dear. The people who had faith in me and my ability to learn and grow and pursue a calling were the "evil feminists" and the people telling my how incapable I was were "good Christians." I wanted to be close to God so I could hear his calling, but these believers thought like Henry Ford, "you can have any calling you like, as long as it's homemaking."

Fortunately, I had elements of my family, close friends, and my church that spoke a different gospel. Ironically, if I had grown up in one of the churches that think they're the only ones on the right path, I would probably have cared less about what these people think. But my church believed in ecumenical union with our fellow Christians so their opinions were to be carefully considered. But none of the women of my church seemed to take all that much issue with the other perspectives. So I felt alone outside wondering why my womb was such a problem.

But I grew wanting a life of my own, preparing for it, although thinking that if I ever found The One to marry, my life, not his, would go on hold and I would pick it up when the children (and there had to be children) were gone. I started college in Biochemistry with a view to a PhD and then first semester made me realize that though I was interested in science, I wasn't going to pursue every last equation with the vigor that I pursued their conceptual consequences. (Also, lab goggles sucked. Just saying.) When decision time came, I decided to enter the philosophy department because ideas made me giddy. Clearly, I was a metaphysical/epistemological/ethical/linguistic/├╝bernerd. But I still thought, despite my good grades and my professors encouragement that I wasn't really very good at it. I was getting married (having found The One inconveniently early for a career track), and I just didn't know what I wanted to do. I mean, I guess I could rely on his income and get a TA position to supplement and make grad school less prohibitively expensive, but wouldn't that make our first year of marriage more stressful? I would ruin our marriage by my willfull pursuit of what I wanted! BAD GIRL.

It worked out well, in the end. My husband is even better for me than I thought he was back in the day. He is more fun, more supportive, more hot, and more brilliant than he seemed. The job that I took because it was "the best option without venturing out too far" has turned out to be quite good for me. It has allowed lots of growth and exploration, and it has opened me up to creative endeavors to a surprising (and delightful) degree. Despite arriving at it from perhaps unnecessary pressures, I lucked out because it's a good one. (Also making/spending money is nice.) But why did I have to feel inferior to my husband in my pursuit of my calling? Why was my life suspendable and not his?

But pressures remain on me that make me feel inferior and unimportant. Like staring at lovely, professionally made-up and airbrushed 15-year-old models in fashion magazines and reading articles about 30-year-olds who resort to Botox to keep their edge. 30. You know, as in 7 years older than I am right now? Yeah, that's not old enough to need it! Is it? In their "Fashion at Any Age" issues, they discuss how much more fearless 30 and 40 year-olds are about their fashion and life choices because they've overcome the indecisiveness and mistakes of their youth and are now confident to make bold steps - whether in color or career choices. I envy that confidence - I want to skip the torture of these intervening years and get right to that developed and happy self. But then on the next page, those same fearless women are unattractive and require Botox. So is their confidence more a resignation to the structure of life in this society and their dispensable nature? Does anyone ever win?

So that's it, that's why I can't read those things anymore. I feel really frail and immature admitting that to you or even to myself. If I really want to pursue a calling, how can I expect to do that when I'm so obviously weak? Maybe I can't. That's the problem with life - there are no guarantees and your reasoned opinion can be wrong, wrong, wrong. But I'm tired of telling myself I can't do it - I'm too weak, too stupid, too emotional, too fat, too ugly, to unworthy of work and its achievements. So I work for now. I might pursue grad school later. I might decide I really DO want to set it all aside for a time to have children and make my parents and in-laws happy grandparents. But no matter which "might" I go after, I'm going to take more care with my sense of self. I'm not going to allow myself the self-destructive tools with which to vivisect my sense of my own worth until it is dead on the table.

As the preceding paragraphs have shown, this pronouncement set off a firestorm of thought and evaluation. The leap to "(Posting)0" from another equation, then.

(Fashion Magazines)0 = (Thoughts)n, where n is a number >100

But as I've said before, as n approaches 100, it becomes pretty hard to distill any single thought into posts for this site. Thus:

(Thoughts)n = (Posting)0, where n is >100

And by substitution this becomes:

(Fashion Magazines)0 = (Posting)0.

Okay, Contrived Math Class is over. Don't forget your handouts are due Friday.


Plankiest said...

Hilarious. Except for that math bit, that was almost verbatim to our earlier conversation.

One other thought: Did you notice that even though you are still swimming around in confusion, it is a different and more focused confusion than before? I just read your "life outline" if you will, and I see the Lord working through you! Just go back and read it yourself! It is awesome!

Chin up sweetpea! We are behind you 100%!

rachel said...

hey girl...I sent you an email (to your blogger address). if it didn't get there, let me know. it's rather late and there is a definite possibility that I could have messed up that simple function.

CharlesPeirce said...

I think you should go to grad school, because you'd be good at it, and grad school needs people like you. When the time is right. Unless, of course, you decide you want lots of babies. Then you should have them, raise them, and then go to grad school. Order = not important.

rachel said...

I think I really sent you an email this time.

Fir said...

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lvs said...

Just so you know, I love you and miss our time living together, and you, as a woman, as a great and beautiful, well-adjusted, intelligent, woman, inspire me.

(Remember that one day when you and KD and I walked to class while whipping out our PDA's and we all felt geeky? That was great.)

Don Quixote said...

You are an amazing person. Not only are you beautiful and talented, but you are also open enough to post something so meaningful. Continue to follow your heart, Kid.