Defining your identity as NOT
by a 21-year-old know-it-all who wishes to remain anonymous (also seen here)
I am NOT one of those girls who calls guys six times a day. In fact, you’re lucky if I call you once. And, heaven forbid, you know you’re in trouble if I call you twice.
I am NOT one of those girls who shows up in a cute outfit that’s just wrong. In fact, you’re lucky if I show up in a cute outfit at all—jeans and tees, I say. And, heaven forbid, I might just show up in sweats.
I am NOT one of those girls who will cry to get out of a traffic ticket. In fact, the officer is lucky if I am even civil. And, heaven forbid, I might just, silent and stoic, hand you my insurance and driver’s license invisibly holding back tears.
I am NOT one of those girls who cries. In fact, you’re lucky if I ever cry in front of you. And, heaven forbid, rush me to the hospital if I ever cry in public.
I have spent my life trying NOT to be one of those girls: those girls who don’t have confidence in themselves, don’t have a sense of self-worth, aren’t coy, aren’t pursued by men, don’t have the je-ne-se-qua to wear it, don’t respect themselves, don’t have a sense of gender equality, or just aren’t strong.
But in trying not to be these things, have I strayed too far into NOT territory, where I am NOT anyone at all? Am I a shy, sweatpants-clad, stoic, emotionless female?
Because that’s certainly not what I was going for.
I’m NOT going to be one of those uncouth women who shows up for their first day at an office in a ritzy building wearing sneakers. Sneakers?! You can’t even wear sneakers to a casual office, much less one where the women wear kick-the-attacker-in-the-you-know-where pointy-toe stilettos.
Nonetheless, this girl at my aforementioned office showed up on day one, in sneakers. I honestly had to close my eyes and count to three before I could look again. Perhaps I was imagining things?
No, no. It was true. She was wearing sneakers.
Unable to say anything out of shock, I shook her hand, nodding, and finally stumbled over my own name. She smiled, seemed nice enough, and assumed her position at her desk … thank god my back was to her, the thought of her sneakers alone made it hard to concentrate!
Did I hate her sneakers because they were the symbol of the awkward, unconfident, ill-informed NOT girl I never wanted to be? Did I hate her sneakers because I was wearing killer heels that were, in fact, killing me? Or did I simply hate her sneakers because sneakers are quite possibly the worst fashion infraction one could ever make, and I am the expert, you know?
Her sneakers were undeniably offensive. But more than that, those sneakers made me question whether anything I did was as undeniably offensive, and put me back in NOT mode: I’m NOT offensive, I’m NOT uncouth, I’m not ill-informed. I do fit in! I do look good! I do wear cute clothes!
It boils down to the NOT. To NOT be is far worse than to be worried about NOT being.
The sneaker-clad girl may have been rough on the edges, but at least she wasn’t rough on herself.
Does that mean I should wear sneakers to work? NOT! But maybe I should take a shoe from her closet and BE something, who I am, rather than being worried about who I am NOT.