Monday, February 11, 2013

Confessions of a (former) Mean Girl

I attended the screening event of Finding Kind hosted by Womentum yesterday. This documentary follows two girls as they try to understand the phenomenon of "girl world."

If you're a girl from North America, you know what "girl world" is. It starts somewhere in Jr. high and involves girls sneakily fighting to find their place on the totem pole -- all secretly vying for the top spot. It involves gossip, rumours, the ability to perfectly cut one another down with a look all while maintaining the image that girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. It's tougher than Survivor, where alliances  are created, trust is broken, and you never truly know if it's your day to be singled out for your flaws as you walk to school in the morning.

It's learning to play the game. Learning that if you are on one side of the fence, teasing another girl, you are not being teased. Learning that even if you are not doing the teasing, but quietly looking on, you are not being teased. Learning the right things to say and do, wear and watch to keep up. Learning to deal with these "mean girls" to prepare yourself for mean bosses, mean mother-in-laws, mean acquaintances.

This phenomenon has been glamorously documented in our culture. The hit movie "Mean Girls" mocks the movement, reality shows like The Hills and Jersey Shore highlight these moments, dramas like Gossip Girl profit from the hurt feelings and cattiness. This reflection of our society in media is in turn creates a society that starts to mimic "as seen on TV" moments. And the circle of life continues.

Watching the documentary yesterday, I felt a stir of sadness. And regret. And embarrassment.

Because I was a mean girl. And I started to think about those friends I stopped talking to, stopped returning phone calls, stopped asking them to hang out. About how I decided they didn't fit into my world anymore and so I severed the relationship.

I wish the movie had asked some of the mean girls why they do what they do. They talked a lot to girls who were victims, none really owing up to the fact that she too probably had played the game. I use sarcasm and wit as a coping mechanism. And sarcasm doesn't always transfer well, which means my way of making light of situations, most often hurt people's feelings. And I have always been able to bounce from friends to friends and circles to circles to suit where I was in life. It never occurred to me that the "best" friends I left behind may be hurting from my actions. Like relationships with boys, sometimes friend relationships don't work out anymore and you need to break up. Sometimes it might be because the relationship is toxic, but most likely it might just be that you are not on the same paths anymore. I can look back and I don't know if there is any specific moment that I felt singled out. When it was my turn for the group of girls I was friends with in Jr. High to exclude me, I was upset for a day, but found other girls to hang out with. I chalked it up to the other girls having the issue, not me!

In the panel discussion following the film, an audience member brought up the fascination she had with this mean girl phenomenon in our culture. She was originally from Kenya and was an early childhood educator in both countries. She couldn't understand the neediness that characterized the Canadian children she taught as it was completely different from the those children in Kenya. And this actually makes sense to me and may actually answer why I was a mean girl as well.

In my home, I was constantly reminded how special I was, how smart and beautiful, cute and talented, etc. etc. Consistently, positive attributes were reiterated to me, to help build my self esteem. So by the time I was put out into the world with my peers and we entered school, I was sure I was the most special, the most talented, the most beautiful. Except, my guess is all parents fawn over their spawn in this manner. And once we get into the real world, we can't all be the best. And so in order to survive this world, we start to secretly tell others that so-and-so is not that fantastic -- look at her shoes, her nose, the way she drew a tree. And we start to play the game in order to fulfill that prophecy our parents told us about being so special. Not realizing that we are actually cutting ourselves down, not just the other person. And because we have been playing this inner monologue for so many years, we now don't even realize that it starts the moment we see another person. Sizing her up on her clothes, her face, her weight -- trying to assure ourselves we are still the most special.

I'm a former mean girl. Some may say I am still  a mean girl. I still cut off relationships that I don't think are serving me well. I still have a horrible habit of gossiping. I still compare my positive attributes to others's negative attributes to feel better about myself. In yesterday's discussion the idea of "checking yourself" came up to stop the inner judgement that happens so naturally. This really hit home for me and I plan on taking that minute to "check myself."

I don't know if the world will ever be rid of mean girls, but it may be rid of at least one today. Because in this girl world it's most important to be kind. And it's time I start finding it.


Saturday, February 9, 2013


While flossing my teeth this morning I thought about the time I decided to start regularly flossing to prove to my dentist that it was his hygienist's poking into my gums with sadistic hooks that was causing my gums to bleed, not my lack of care. I had four months until my next appointment and made a promise to myself that I would floss every single day in that time frame, mark it down and show him when he stated that it appeared I needed to floss more as his office looked like a scene from Dexter. Okay. In fairness, it wasn't that bad. I was just more of an occasional flosser and this would be a challenge to instill the habit. And it paid off. I have minimal bleeding now during my appointments and less scaling occurs.

After flossing my teeth, I normally enter my bedroom and make my bed. This habit started for me during a down period in my life. I read an idea  in "It's called a Breakup because it's broke" stating messy head, messy bed. The world reflects what's going on inside. And if you can't control those feelings, start doing things like making your bed and washing your dishes. And so, I made a promise to myself that until I sorted out all of the garbage going on, I would make my bed every morning showing the world I was ready to take it on.

It's amazing how productive you can feel by starting your day with flossed teeth and a made bed. It motivates you to wash those breakfast dishes, tackle those despised tasks at work, send that email, eat a salad for lunch, walk the dog for a few minutes longer, say hello to a stranger.

And soon enough, you realize you are committed to these two simple tasks with out even thinking about it.

As we all know, I have fallen deeply in love. He is amazing and adds so much to my life. And in the last couple years of our courtship, I have added 20 lbs onto my frame. We enjoy cooking together, we enjoy pub nights, movie nights, board game nights. And although we for enjoy going for bike rides, playing hockey, skating, sledding, walks with the dog, the output is not equal to the input.

And we have the wedding coming up. These are moments that will be captured for eternity on film, instagram and possibly video. I want to look my best. And with 14 months before the day, it means making the commitment to add in a fitness regime that shortly becomes as much of a habit as flossing my teeth and making my bed. I started this week out with 2 runs and 2 yoga sessions. I even opted for water over wine one evening (who am I??).

It's time for me to push myself. It's time to train like a beast and look like a beauty. It's time for me to eat clean while working out dirty. It's time for me to commit.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Looking back

I wrote this post in 2010 -- imagining what classes I would like to take if I could create a life curriculum.

This is why putting it out to the Universe works.

One of my fun classes for life was a Cooking with Friends class, another was putting the Fun in Fundraising. Which Team McAwesome covers.

It's interesting to me that the first two have come to fruition and are still developing. Which means I have renewed faith that more of those fun life classes will be passed with flying colours.

For example, just last weekend we took the short drive out to a little town near us (road trips and travelling) to do some antiquing to find pieces to decorate the house with.

And we are going to embark on a 365 day movie challenge to save money in our last year as an unmarried couple and are sure to concentrate on those 80s films we loved as kids.

There are still other classes on that life list that need some attention (ahem...budgeting) and probably a dance class that needs to be dropped as I am not as entertained as I once was with the bar scene.  It's very cool to see this list written over 2 years ago and forgotten about knowing that unconsciously I have been plugging away to complete my personal degree in life studies.

Here's the original class list:

Cooking with Friends (includes special Christmas Baking with Friends workshop every year)

Putting the Fun in Fundraising: planning events that people love attending for great causes

Freelance writing while sitting in a beach chair: How to get there

Road Trips: The Art of Discovering the Hidden Gems Everywhere

Decorating: How to turn your apartment into the place that makes you happiest (with a special "Don’t be afraid to use colour" work shop!)

Understanding Films (with a major concentration on 80s adventure films)

Dance: Grooving the night away to killer live music at your favorite drinkin’ holes

Money Management 101: How to do everything you want while on a budget

Conquering Fear: Getting out there and doing it today!

Travel: See New Parts of the World 4 Times a Year!

Rainbows and Unicorns

Dudes! Registration for the Calgary Color Me Rad  Race opened this morning. And as of 6:01 A.M, I was officially in the race and the Team Captain of The Unicorns.

I wanted to run in this ever since I saw it on Pinterest last year or the year before. And waited patiently for details for the Calgary race. And when I received an email stating the 2012 race had been cancelled due to lack of venue, I cried giant tears of sadness. Tears that flooded my world until this morning, when registration opened for 2013 and a rainbow of colour was promised to me by the powers that be in the Rad world. I quickly laced up my sneakers and left my Ark.

To take this a step further, I have suggested to my team mates that we run with unicorn horns filled with glitter to add our sparkle to the world that day. Fingers crossed they agree.

June 29 2013, we ride. Want to join us?

Also, the word play in this post is making me giddy.