Sunday, April 6, 2014

Are You In The Club?

Are you in "The Club"? I know this is a really cryptic title, and it is supposed to be- an attention grabber is what I am hoping for. Something that at fills you with curiosity so you have to read on to find out what I am talking about? Is it working? :) In all seriousness, I have a desire this post will reach a lot of people as I believe so many are affected by this theory of mine and do not exactly know how to put this into words-both sides of the "club line". Trust me, I am going to explain.

I wanted to post a movie clip. I searched all over the internet to find it, but I was unsuccessful. Have you ever seen the movie Spanglish with Adam Sandler and Tia Leoni? If you have, do you remember when Tia Leoni's character Deb interviews Flor for the housekeeper position? And when they sit down outside Deb looks at Flor and says "You're..[pause]..gorgeous!...You're gorgeous!" (with a great deal of force). The cute grandmother says something along the lines of: "It's not a's an accusation."

Do you know what this grandmother is talking about? Has this happened to you, or have you by chance been the accuser? Somewhere, somehow in our lives we have received some sort of message telling us that if someone in the world possesses something we perceive to not have, it somehow takes away from our value. I see it everywhere. It is something I have done in my younger years, and maybe you have done at some point. It is like a plague!

Before I can get to the next part you have to know what I think of myself. I look in the mirror and I see a woman that has an 'okay' face. My thoughts go something like this:
"It's a really good thing I can do my hair. It might make up for the deficit of my body. For crying out loud, I have had 5 kids. I am nothing spectacular- and I know it. It is a really good thing for the smoke and mirrors that clothes provide. I hope others know I have accepted that I am not in the same category other women are in, because I feel body wise there is no comparison as there is no attractiveness whatsoever. I wonder if people pick up on how extremely self conscious I am." 
Even with this trial of feeling inadequate the following is true:

I am tall. I come in at about 5'11". I have dark hair (or not depending on the bottle of color I want to use, ha!) and green eyes. I have a mother who taught me well the concepts of color and how to wear what not only looks good on me, but that which accentuate the positive. She taught me a foundation for make up, do's and don'ts. When to go natural and when to not shy away from a bold red lipstick- compared to just a sheer coat of lip gloss. I even wear heels. High ones. So there are times I come in at 6'3". That definitely turns heads when you are that tall as a woman. I believe to a certain level I am confident and convicted. I try to continually educate myself so I am articulate as well. I strive to be empathetic, and always improving where I am on a collective level. I am not afraid of failure, I try new things, I love a challenge-all of these qualities have had people tell me I "can do anything".

My most best friend is the same way to the point we are told we are like sisters. She comes in at the same height. Beautiful thick long brown hair with blonde highlights and rich brown eyes. She has striking, strong facial features, and a slender athletic body. She also does not shy away from being who she is, rather she accentuates it. She is educated, intelligent, and has a passion for a lot of things, and she is extremely empathetic and all of it is apparent. And then we go places...together. Our husbands kind of roll their eyes, specifically when we go to activities that are more female oriented. They have both said we need to "dial it down" to make sure we don't hurt anybody's feelings. Wow, seriously? What does that mean?

Just typing this has me squirming in my seat. This is not my MO! I have noticed I usually find myself dodging compliments, avoiding anything that puts me center of attention, making sure I appear to not have any talents- all because I do not want anyone to feel bad, or less than, because of who I am  or what I have chosen for myself. Doing this is not from a place of compassion, it is from a place of having to diminish myself so they can feel comfortable. I can sense it... And I never could have understood this until my bestie pointed this out to me.

I met my best friend, Brianna, in 2007 right before I delivered my 5th child. She would compliment me, and I would dodge them like I usually do. It was good for me she was as brazen as she was in those moments. She asked why I couldn't just say thank you? I had never thought about it, I really couldn't answer her. It took me almost five years to figure it out. And if I hadn't been associated with her, I never would have figured it out. I still remember when I first started trying to say thank you. It was like swallowing vinegar, and then trying to sound grateful afterwards!

She would point out to me how often I would diminish myself in the presence of other women. Once I acknowledged I was actually doing this, my focus was more on accepting a compliment; recognizing the effort on the part of the individual giving me the gift of an accolade. I mean, have you ever thought about what it feels like when you truly want to give kudos to one and it is rejected? I feel like I have to scramble, quickly, to recover the flow of the conversation.

And now we are at the present day. I feel healthier. With this new sense of emotional health the actions of people in the world around me seem to be illuminated! Sometimes it is like a neon sign over another's head. As I go about my life, doing my own thing trying my darnedest to appear like I have it minimally together (when really I feel like a fumbling idiot)... I see one of those looks. Sorry ladies, but our gender tends to be cruel. One of those looks from a woman that sizes you up, and back down the other side, has made sure all perceptible flaws have been noted all within a nanosecond!! This look is usually followed with a flash of relief ...because she has now given you a label of perceived faults or has given some tragic malformation in their minds (given you bacne, a 3rd nipple, or foot fungus for example), and they are feeling better about themselves in this situation. What are these looks, this size up? Disdain followed by dismissal? All I know, is it is not good and not every person feels the exact same feelings in one of these moments. But, you know it was directed towards you.

I will now refer to these moments and looks as "Club Initiation". They are not gender specific I'm sure. But being that I am not a guy, I cannot seem to hone in on it the way I can in the female gender. The "club" refers to victims of this poor treatment.

When other people look at you seeming to exclude you based on looks, talents, conviction, strength, opinion, body type, commitment, intelligence, abilities, parenting (and the list could go on) it feels like you are being reduced to almost nothing. Now I refuse to be reduced, and say it is a privilege like you are in a special club. To say "excluding you" in my opinion, is defined as preventing you from being any part of their lives out of fear that you might devalue them in some way. I do not believe this is an active persecution, just subconsciously saving them selves from being reminded of how unaccomplished... or insignificant they feel just being around you?

I want to make sure that I am making clear this has nothing to do with physical beauty. It has to do with anything you do well- whether it be the amazing cupcakes you bring to a party, the patience you have with children, the way you can recall a quote from a book you read that is pertinent to another's life. 

In the past I have had some really cruel encounters with women (seriously, it would make your jaw drop). I wouldn't say the women themselves were cruel, but their comments were cutting and demoralizing. Not just towards me, but when an individual does this they cut themselves down. At the time, not understanding how one puts them self down when devaluing another, this is when I began to diminish myself when given a "compliment". These compliments were not delivered with a spirit of sincerity to uplift or edify, they were accusations-delivered to help themselves feel better. Feeling extremely uncomfortable, I started to switch the focus from me to them so they would feel less...hopeless?

This is "The Club" I am referring to. If you have ever been in the situation where this has happened or continues to happen to you, you are a member of the club! Welcome! But what  makes this hilarious, I find most everyone is in the club. Whether you think you are or not. Because as people we are different, we see each other differently. Trust me. If you can't believe for one second you might be in this club where another has seen a quality you have, that's okay... I will believe it for you until you can believe it yourself. In my years I have been amazed at what I have caught myself thinking about another, it is embarrassing. I asked a few people to be vulnerable with me and  help me write a list of things they have felt judged about or what they have caught themselves judging. Go ahead, have a good chuckle...

  • They Have Acrylic Nails
  • Bites Their Nails
  • They Have Eyelash Extensions
  • Nice Clothes That Look Good On Them
  • They Have A Mud Room
  • Receives Regular Manicures Or Pedicures
  • Have Gel Or Shellac Nails
  • Have Been Blessed With Or Seeks To Maintain Beautiful Hair
  • Organizes Their Pantry
  • Organizes Their Home
  • Doesn't Organize Anything
  • Celebrates Every Little Holiday With Their Kids
  • Does Not Celebrate Every Holiday With Their Kids
  • Lives Frugally
  • Makes Their Bed Every Day
  • Has 0, 1, 2, 3, 5 7, 10 Or Any Number In Between Of Children
  • Eats Takeout Un-apologetically
  • Makes Dinner Every Night
  • Paints A Bold Color In Their Wall
  • Doesn't Paint Any Color On Their Wall
  • Needs Financial Help
  • Has Wealth
  • Has Their Children In Public School
  • Home schools Their Child
  • Has No Acne
  • Finds A Way To Earn Money At Home
  • Uses Modern Medication For Disorders
  • Uses A Natural Approach (Oils, Nutrition) To Treat Disorders 
  • Has A Lot Of Patience With Their Children
  • Tends To Snap At Their Children
  • Has No Acne
  • Has Children That Get Good Grades
  • Has Children That Struggle In School
  • Has Food Storage From Canning Their Own Food
  • Has Food Storage From Case Lot Sales
  • Has A Chore Charts For Their Children
  • Struggle Getting Their Kids To Contribute
  • Plants A Garden Yearly
  • Doesn't Plant A Garden
  • Reads To Their Kids Every Night
  • Is Diligent With Laundry
  • Struggles With Laundry
  • Irons Their Clothes
  • Has Had Plastic Surgery
  • Doesn't Need Plastic Surgery
  • Eats Their Entire EntrĂ©  
  • Flosses Every Day
  • Their Kids Have No Cavities
  • Has A Husband That Helps Out
  • Has Marital Struggles
  • Vacuums Once A Month
  • Vacuums Twice A Week
  • Takes Their Kids To The Library
  • Runs Marathons
  • Doesn't Exercise At All
  • Has A Best Friend
  • Is On Medication For Anxiety
  • Takes Life In Stride
  • Has “Crafty” Genes
  • Has Children That Behave In Church Or Public
  • Is On Medication For Hormones
  • They Coupon
  • Doesn't Need To Coupon
  • Takes Time To Read For Themselves
  • Makes Bread From Scratch
  • Can Use Power Tools
  • Excels At Public Speaking
  • Makes Cake From Scratch
  • Can Eat "Whatever They Want"
  • Struggles With Their Weight
  • They Are "So Talented"
  • They Can Sew
  • They Can Sing
  • And This List Goes On....
  • And On...
 When you find your value, you become free to see the value in others. The quality another possesses is something you admire and encourage recognizing your value remains the same. You make sure that others do not have to "qualify" for who they are in your presence. You become inspired by all walks of life. And most importantly you will be able to look at somebody that chooses to do things differently than you, and appreciate the differences.

Ladies, let's get real- we are all fighting the same battles, the same war. If you are like me, you have what feels like World War 3 inside your head! I fight berating thoughts against myself, self esteem, the way I look, capabilities, talents, parenting, being productive, feeling like I clean all the time vs just learning to stop and enjoy the little things in life, etc. If you relate to any of these, maybe we are all more alike then we are different? Women need women! We do! We need each other, which means we need to support each other. Any barriers we have are self imposed (I am not talking about tiny barriers from trusting wisely). We need to open our hearts and love each other more, and love each other better. 

I urge us all with all gentleness to please stop comparing ourselves to others. If you were to take an honest evaluation of yourself you will find you tend to judge your own weaknesses against another's strength. That is not compassionate nor is it accurate. You wouldn't use this judgement system on your best friend, sister, mother, or child... You are a limited edition of one. What do you say? Will you join me in finding your own value?


beckyboo said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! I am in the club.
I know that I too compare my weaknesses with others strengths and that has led to so much insecurity in my life. I struggle with perfectionism and I have come to understand that is because I struggle with just being enough as I am. I need to recognize the great gifts that I have to offer and also recognize the great gifts that other women around me have to offer. Putting other women down, just puts me down. I do not need to try and have the same talents as everyone else but just be the best that I can be and help other women around be be the best they can be. I am enough, just as I am! I cannot let other men or women around me try to make me feel like I am not!

April Schmidt said...

Thank you so much for commenting! This is exactly what I was hoping would happen. I really struggle now when I see a "club initiation" happening and I want to call a timeout just to say "hey, you are enough...". I know that until people sees it for themselves it won't mean anything though.

Kori said...

Thanks so much for this! Yes, I am crying and touched. The world would be a better place if we all understood and practiced this.

Aimee said...

I am so grateful that this post is "live and in color" for the world to read! I am grateful for your boldness and that you are willing to say what needs to be said. I am so grateful that Brianna helped you see you. Because now, I have started to see me.

I have linked to this from my blog. I hope you know how much you have inspired me, April. Thank you :) And thank you, Brianna! I love you BOTH!

Aimee said...

I just wanted to add that I posted a link to your post on my blog:

You're famous to me!

April Schmidt said...

Kori, thanks for your comment! And I am sorry I didn't see it until now.

Aimee I am *so* grateful you enjoyed it, or it helped you, or whatever! I am so excited to check out your site and be a part your community!