“When the going gets tough, yeah, the guys they can just act tough. It’s different for girls.” – Dierks Bentley
I don’t remember if it was before we were engaged or after that I finally caved. I think it was after. Doug had been asking – nay, relentlessly pestering – me to let him see my old scrapbooks. Not talking baby books. He’d seen those many times. He was championing for a glance at my “Off Limits” collection – 4th Grade through High School. Adolescent and Teenage Becci were much different from Little Shit and Present Day Becci I had told him. I did my best to glaze over those years, and for good reason. My “awkward years” were more awkward than most. For four of those eight years I sported a glorified bowl cut that I actually consistently requested when mom would take me to get a haircut. I picked out tennis shoes from the boys section at the store and wore boy-length shorts in the summer. I never really got into make up. I hated wearing dresses. When I decided to start growing my hair out in 8th grade I had no idea what to do with it, so it kind of just hung there like a shaggy, shorter version of a mullet. Honestly, the fact that I was even able to get boyfriends is an enigma to this day. In high school I woke up late, washed my hair under the faucet in the tub and sported a wet pony because I was too lazy to blow it out. It wasn’t until my junior year that I discovered the joys of straightening my hair, and by my senior year I mostly had my look together, but even still I didn’t discover eyeliner until my second year of college. To put it into modern terms the kids will understand – I was a hot mess. For quite a while.
I was also a huge tomboy. Huge. I suppose given the above self-description, it goes without saying. However, I feel as though I must state it for the record. I always had more friends who were guys than friends who were girls because I felt more comfortable around guys. I guess the girls intimidated me for some reason. They went shopping for “cute clothes” and wore lip gloss and rushed off to the bathroom together and linked arms when they walked around. Guys didn’t do that. They just hung out. They didn’t want to sit on the swings at recess and dish about their newest crush. They wanted to play kickball. They didn’t care if they got their clothes dirty or if they got tackled in two hand touch. They didn’t brood around in cliques and gossip about the class “losers,” they told dirty jokes and gave each other shit. The guys were just always more fun.
Now, let me clarify. I never actually wanted to be a guy. I just didn’t really embrace or claim my feminine side for some reason. I still crushed on guys and kept a diary and stuff, but to me girls were lame. They never wanted to do anything fun. They didn’t want to mess up their hair or break a nail and they were never wearing the right shoes. They were the worst. It wasn’t until college that my views started to change. I always say that college is essentially a really expensive “life class.” I mean, you take different courses and write papers and do projects and all that, but you are also exposed to a whole different culture. Especially for me. I came from a town of 1,300 people pretty much exactly like me – white kids from average income families with a mom and a dad who were happily married. My view of the world was limited. At college I met so many different kinds of people with so many different stories. And – just like with any friendship – the more time you spend together, the more involved you become in each other’s lives. The more you learn. The more you experience. You go through some shit. When that happens, you confide in each other sharing stories of your past – upbringing, relationships, phases of life, etc.
I mean – it’s pretty hilarious, but – imagine the stereotypical drunk girl at a house party. She’s probably slumped over somewhere on the porch steps or on the edge of the bathtub, plastic keg cup/Bicardi Raz bottle in one hand, cell phone in the other, tears running down her face. Probably just having had some life altering realization like she has no idea what she’s doing with her life, or her current relationship is going nowhere, or she’ll never measure up to her parents’ impossible standards, and right next to her there’s this other chick calmly rationalizing her hysterical outpouring. Reassuring her that she’s going to be fine and she’s right where she needs to be and who needs that guy?! She’s way too good for him anyway, and her parents? I’m sure they’re just happy that they’ve raised an independent daughter who’s taking all the right steps to get what she wants. If I had a dollar for every one of those nights, I’d probably be able to take a few of said girls out for a couple rounds of drinks to reminisce. But, here’s the thing…
That dramatic situation sums up one of the great things about being a woman. I mean, I realize that statement in and of itself sounds a little ridiculous, but think about it. Women can be very emotional, but they also have this seemingly built-in ability to calm and comfort people. From their facial expressions to their body language to the tone of their voice even down to their word choice. Tie that all up with a nice little bow and it just works. Now, that’s not to say that guys can’t do either of those things, I just feel it comes more naturally to women. We are generally more emotional – or, should I say outwardly emotional (especially when copious amounts of alcohol are involved *wink*) – which I think lends to our ability to relate better in those types of situations. Once I was able to get out in the world and experience more meaningful female relationships, something clicked and I realized that girls aren’t the worst. They’re actually quite amazing. They bring this powerful yet vulnerable dynamic to the world around them. It’s beautiful. We may be a little dramatic and extreme at times, but we don’t just care – we become invested. We don’t just love – we cherish. We don’t just support – we advocate. I’m kind of bummed out that I spent so much of my youth trying to avoid all that. Playing down my girl-ness and muting my emotions to be “one of the guys.”
I don’t know. I realize that this post is more random than many of my previous ones. I’m kind of all over the map. It’s more or less just me thinking out loud. The motivation to type this up came out of nowhere, really. One day I watched the music video for that new Dierks Bentley song “Different for Girls” and I thought, ‘You know what? We do handle things differently than guys,’ and I just thought that was such a testament to the dynamic that women bring to the world. Kind of a random realization, but for some reason I was just really fixated on that and thought back to my own experience and how I thought being a girl was so dumb and – as a result – tried to pick up more masculine tendencies to overcompensate for my female “weaknesses” that I eventually came to realize in my formative years as the strengths that made my gender unique. So, I guess the moral of this rambling is simply a shout out to all the chicks out there who get shit for having all the qualities of the “stereotypical female.” It’s not a flaw, it’s fantastic. We soften the edges. We please the eyes. We bring a lightness and pleasantness. And – let’s be real – when we use our feminine wiles for good, great things can happen.