Just Some Friday Reflections

It's funny that I'm writing this because I've had a long standing grudge with any article that promotes self esteem.

It's not that I'm against the building of self esteem, it's not that I want you to start reading book that call everyone a fat, ugly hag... au contraire! It's constantly on my goals list to give more compliments and make my friends like themselves as much as I like them, which sounds like two very basic things, if only self esteem could come from the outside, which it can't, which is why I generally dismiss anything telling you to "be yourself!" as overly repetitive and trite. You say skeptic, I say realist... Poh-tay-toes, poh-tah-toes? This is why I'm going to ask you all to forgive me for this next little tirade. Forgive me because you've heard it before, forgive me because everyone says it, but listen to it and accept it because I mean what I say with every molecule of my body.

The expression 'keeping it real' has always struck me as funny, because keeping? Really? How many people are actually, consistently true to themselves anymore? I'm not blaming you, I know it's hard, but it seems whenever I leave the house nowadays someone's telling me they took business instead of archaeology "because there's a recession!" and another girl who responds to the rejection of just some silly, immature boy by going tanning and knocking back another Sex on the Beach. Does this ever happen to you? Do you ever just want to explain, "Well, going to the wrong school for you now actually makes much less financial sense because you're going to hate it so much you'll drop out and have wasted two years of your life, along with thousands of dollars?" Am I alone in this logic? Do I maybe have a career in financial planning?
(And do I really have to explain why tanning beds give you skin cancer?)

So, on being real:
When I wrote "A Love Letter" on body image, I was flattered by compliments from all over the blogisphere for my confidence and positive body image. Ready for some realness? You couldn't be more mistaken. When I write pieces like this, when I put the cards on the table, it's not because I've been there/done that/gone now. I don't propose to have the ultimate answer, nor do I think I've solved the problem. Does this make me a hypocrite? No, it just makes me another human, in the very same boat as you. I'm not saying we're all a bunch of liars, but how much of your personality do you repress on a daily basis just for the sake of the approval of other people?

Today I sat and nodded as a boy ripped my views up, telling me that everything I felt about, all the excitement I had for my new government was completely wrong and I was naive for having faith in anything. I don't care about this guy at all, yet I said "I respect your opinion" and smiled and didn't argue for the sake of being polite. Something your grandmother will never tell you: This is stupid. I kick myself now.

Everyone loves to talk about freedom of speech, usually followed by a reference to the good ol' cliche 'slippery slope' arguement with someone calling someone a racist/ homophobe/ sexist / insert anything here-ist. I love, I love so much that so many people respond to some very questionable arguements by respecting the other person's freedom of speech to say that, but you have the freedom to be offended, and you have the freedom to argue back. Speak up. Say things that benefit everyone involved in the conservations; don't say petty things because you can, say feelings, say facts, say things that matter to you and know that you more than deserve these; so many people fought for you to have this right, and for you to waste it is an insult to everyone who lives in a prohibitive theocracy elsewhere who desire change. If nothing more, use your voice to be a voice for others.

If people love you, they will listen to you. They will listen to more than your words, they will listen to your lifestyle. They won't make fun of you for wearing headscarves in the rain, they'll kind of understand when you ditch a big, prestigious school to go to a tiny feminist one, they'll just smile when you try to live your life based on the movie Amelie, and they might even accept that even if every single other person in your family did superb in math, a great mark in English is just as special even if it's very, uh, different from what was expected. And, most importantly, when you argue that the NDP is the greatest party for the province of Nova Scotia and Simone de Beauvoir is the smartest woman to have ever lived and The Beatles are the. greatest. band. EVER! they might not accept it, they'll argue back. And you'll listen. And it will be swell.

This weekend, I will probably go out, smile at a few guys, but keep dancing with my friends and secretly be a little relieved when the night's over. I'll have spent too much money on drinks trying to calm my nerves to party in a scene I don't really dig with people I really admire. Then, the next morning I will go to the market and buy a croissant and shrieked my heart out and giggle with two of the loveliest girls I have ever met. A small defeat, and a small victory, will both be accomplished. I still won't have my answer as to whether I'd rather go look at photographs of the slums of Berlin then dance than do shots with people who will only later stare at me when I accidentally let my love of the theories behind socialism and really old dresses slip out. I'll probably do the latter anyways.

So, here I am, a few hundred words later, nothing resolved but a weight off my chest. Because even though I've answered nothing, I've let you know that there are people out there who do care about you, who want to get to know you better, and who actually like you more when they can tell you're having a genuine good time. We are here, and we like you because you listen to Sonic Youth and Miley Cyrus, because you get a weird sense of superiority out of knowing you can name all the lobes of the brain and what they operate, and because sometimes you eat three donuts in a row without breathing when you're sad. Just know that it doesn't have to be sometimes, because, as one of the greatest literary genuises of our time, Dr Seuss, once said, "those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."
Make yourself matter.



leilani.e said...

Wow Mary, just wow. That was an incredibly compelling piece. Je t'adore, by the way, for everything human you put out there like this.

Annie said...

this is so amazing.
since I started high school trying to figure out who I am and to like - actually, love - myself has been really important to me. and to be honest, I do love myself! I'm hoping that doesn't come off as arrogant and terrible, but I really do like who I am. I like that I would rather stay home and watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show with my friends than sit around someone's basement playing beer pong and listening to terrible music. I'm so happy that you care so much about people that you know barely anything about, I think it really speaks volumes about who you are. I love you!

Jazz Kate said...

That was the best self esteem [but not really] article I've read. Love the Dr. Seuss quote especially.

Daisy said...

This was fantastic..Thanks for posting this, you write so well and from the heart!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I had a really, really emotional day yesterday. I reall needeed this

Isabel said...

You are the most amazing writer. I think there is more than jsut good marks in English in store for you.\

P.S. -Though I have a hard time believing anyone could be a die hard Sonic Youth and Miley Cyrus fan. :P

bobb said...

Wonderful , wonderful post here. You are right, but it is hard sometimes to be true to yourself, but it's worth the trouble and stress it can bring. It's much better in the end.
The important thing is as you say,, is to try not to be afraid to speak up, It does get easier as you get older, but its still hard at times.

What's most important here, is to love and care. love yourself and love others. That comes through so much in your blog. I think the first post of yours I read was "A Love Letter" - and I thought - wow she really really does care - and it made me a faithful reader of your blog forever. You help others more then you could ever imagine.

andrea said...


Peaches said...

That was great, and for the record I hate people like that, like that guy you were talking about. They're just on the wrong side of history.

Anonymous said...

haha i love how this post is titled "just some friday relfections" you certainly have a lot to say and I really admire you for it Mary. you're one of the most expressive bloggers out there. whenever I read a post by you I definitely get a sense of the sheer passion in you. sure, you don't have the answers, who the hell does? not your 85 year old Grandma Haddy, not your 42 year old Aunt Casey, not the little boy Tommy down the street, but none of them will admit it. I like how you try to express everything you feel and even if you don't come to any conclusion its still really nice to read your honest thoughts.

people should have the freedom to be offended. i hate political correctness most of the time. its over cautious, stifling, just not fun, and makes the one being "PC" look worse than they would if they just told it like it is.

I get so confused sometimes if I am truly individual. everyone says at college you can just be who you want to be for once, and be with the people you want to be with. sounds simple right? not really because college is also about experimentation. and i do want to get out there and do new things, meet new people, just expand everything in my mindset. but there's a few things I just don't care for yet get berated for, "oh so you don't ever want to go clubbing?" "um not really I'd rather dance around with my goofy friends, instead of some sweaty horny guy" "but how do you know if you never go out?" that's the problem, I don't really know, its a bit muddling. this is the age you form your identity, both by what you do and what you don't do, and the line between the two gets very blurred sometimes for me. am i denying something to myself i avoid something or just being myself?

~ Faith said...

This is brilliant and much more than just some firday reflection... wow.


Amelia said...

Thanks so much for being so honest, Mary. Posts like these are always such a good reminder of, well, all the important stuff in life. I must say, though, I feel like blogging has made me a lot more confident in myself and has helped me stay true to myself in situations where I didn't before. I'm really glad to be part of the blogosphere.

BTW, I love that picture!

GraceFace said...

I struggle with this too---I'm lucky in that my friends all have their own, wonderful views and are able to think intelligently and have their own opinions. The problem is, each and every one of them (including me, I must admit) has that horrible sense of superiority, believing that their views are absolutely the right ones, and sometimes I just tire of having to constantly defend my views, and end up nodding and smiling. I hate myself when I do that, and while I wish I could change that about myself, I can't, because very few people can constantly defend and argue, especially when it is with people they admire.

Liz said...

Dear Mary, I am so glad that you are there for so many young women. You are such a role model. If only your blog had existed when I was in high school and university!

The the whole world would be happier if we all just thought a little more like Mary. We would all have more self-confidence, empathy, genuine curiosity, and be more insightful.

Thank you.

I am in my late twenties and of course still have the same self-esteem problems as girls more than ten years younger than I...but I've gotten stronger, more confident, more self-assured with my dorkiness, less apologetic about my true interests. It becomes easier as you get older. I had a horrible time in college and just felt I didn't fit in with people my age and actually, I ended up moving to a foreign country. Here in Japan, it is apparent that I don't fit in, whereas in the States my not-fitting-in-ness is on the inside. I feel like an outsider wherever I go, but here in Japan, everyone sees plainly that I'm an outsider so it's okay! I let my freak-flag fly all the time!! I hope when I move back to the States I'll still have that attitude.

Anyway, thank you for your post. Women of all ages should read it. And men too.

Also, I really liked your bit about freedom of speech. Recently, a conservative friend of mine was complaining about not being able to put an anti-Obama bumper-sticker on her car because she would lose business. She claimed that liberals were being hypocritical, and were not walking the talk. I tried to explain to her that narrow-mindedness is wrong regardless of which side of the political spectrum it comes. But also, she didn't even consider that with free speech comes "the freedom to be offended, and having freedom to argue back," also the freedom to boycott, protest, ignore, and avoid.

Your post spoke to me in many ways, and I'm sure it spoke to many others too.

You are a wonderful human being dear Mary, full of grace. Just like with you and your real-life friends, us out here in the blogosphere have the goal to give you more compliments and make you like yourself as much as we like you! We can't sing your praises enough! Admiration and adoration all around!

Anonymous said...

I had tears in my eyes. Every girl should have a Hail Mary Doll who comes with her very own book of these type posts. No girl would ever feel like she was alone or weird or wrong. She'd have you in a doll-version. Kind of like those American Girl dolls only Canadian and you. :) You're awesome.

Anonymous said...

I've been a longtime lurker on your blog, but I wanted to say thank you for posting this! I just love when someone else puts something you feel in words when you struggle to!

The Devil Wears Dreams said...

i agree with you on many points. also, i do not find you hypocritical in any way, as some might.