The Two of Me
Sometimes I feel like two people live inside me. The first person can change her own flat tire, paint her house, take apart her kitchen sink to fix the disposal, and chop up the tree that fell during the last storm. She likes getting dirty and likes being capable. Then there’s the girly girl inside me who likes getting her hair done. She insists on manicures and pedicures once a month and spends hours primping and preening in preparation for a night on the town. She likes to have the door opened for her and her coat held so she can slip her arms into it. She likes a hand at the small of her back, and while she’s capable of ordering and paying for her own drink, she likes it when someone wants to do it for her.
It’s silly, really. Sometimes these two women go to war deciding who should be the dominant one in a situation. Should I be capable and independent or should I let someone take care of it for me? I weigh out my options, decide which me is better suited for the situation and then I tie the other one down so she can’t ruin it. Most of the time the two of me live in peaceful harmony. Each one knows when it’s her time to shine and when it’s time to take a backseat.
There are other times when they get it wrong. A few years ago I had my gallbladder taken out, came home, made dinner, and did a few loads of laundry. My husband kept insisting I sit down and rest, but I kept pushing on. The biopsy was negative and I had to prove I wasn’t weak, I could handle my responsibilities, as if somehow being strong after surgery meant I earned my good diagnosis. It wasn’t until I saw the concern in my husband’s eyes that I realized he had wanted to take care of me. I had chosen the wrong me.
Other times, in an effort to avoid stepping on someone’s toes, I pretend to not have the knowledge or capability I do. People don’t like to be contradicted, and when someone feels they’re an expert in a certain subject, sometimes they want the limelight. Times like these I waffle between being the smart, capable girl or being the girly girl who wants to be taken care of and I end up looking like the stupid girl. Once I’ve established stupid, there’s no way to correct that and still come out ahead. Either I look like a bigger idiot for pretending to not know what I know,or I’m arrogant and couldn’t bother to discuss my knowledge with an expert, or I’m insecure and didn’t want to be shown up. They’re all losing propositions because I chose the wrong me.
Living with these two distinct sides of my nature can try my patience. I hate feeling off kilter and worrying whether the right me is putting her foot forward. I’ve struggled with this for years and whether it’s a product of my generation, societal expectations of women, or simply my own baggage, this insecurity of who I should be in any given situation bothers me. I want to be the woman who changes her own tire and grumbles about ruining her manicure. I want to be the woman in the classy suit, with a dab of perfume on her pressure points, wearing high heels, wowing the crowd with her knowledge and expertise. Why do I keep these two entities separate? Why do I feel I should?
Trying to find and be my authentic self is much harder than I thought it would be. There are layers of past detritus, societal expectations, and my own personal suppositions to weed through. Perhaps this is the dilemma of every person: the idea that we wear different hats in different places. You know, when in Rome…
Buddha said it best. “The mind is everything. What you think, you become.” I need to sift through these layers and dig down to my core because who I want to be is someone confident. Whether I’m the capable me, the girly girl me, or a combination of the two, I want to walk away from every situation confident that any me is the right me.
picture courtesy of drivelikewoman.com