by Sofia Sears
Being female is hard.
I am not being sexist. I am not being biased. Simply, being female is hard, just as intolerably as being human is hard. It just is inescapably and irrevocably hard. We have every right to be upset, to be horrified at how this confusing world of ours works, every right to be frustrated with the lurking sexism for all genders, and misogyny that occurs, even now, even after such a long, long, time. And these prominent and sometimes, not so clear, worldwide problems that we still have yet to truly fix, feel as if they are somehow a million times more confusing when you are a teenager. Adolescence sucks perhaps 86% of the time, for me. Maybe I’m (obviously) biased since I still am quite new at it, but I have to say, so far, I am so not impressed.
Here’s the gist of my, as so many other girls’, issue: We don’t know how to simply be. What is considered, by society, by our ever-pressuring peers, acceptable? What’s “likable”? There are just… So. Many. Questions. Questions without any immediate answers. Sure, I could subscribe to Seventeen and scan through their advice columns, I could aspire to be just like some YouTube celebrity, I could do a lot of desperate things that would not exactly get me to be… me. I don’t want to come off as over-opinionated and spiteful against anyone, but this piece is especially for young women. I am one, and so, I feel like I can relate to you most. The most important question, I feel, is this: How do I stay true to who I am rather than who I am expected to be?
It surely (obviously) isn’t a black and white answer. I could tell you every single day of my life, an incident of sexism, perhaps against me, perhaps against a male, but even the tiniest things remain in my always over-analytical mind. It’s almost unhealthy, to the extent of things I seem to notice, but it also gives me awareness. So many people don’t seem to be aware of the most obvious issues going on around them. And while, I could most definitely go on for an eternity about all stereotypes (my least favorite thing ever) and assumptions, and my strongest beliefs in feminism, but this topic is one so vague and wide that those would all need at least a separate article for each. I want to help guide you, who are struggling just as I am, to know your “place”.
What makes a successful young woman?
A question I always ask myself. And living in westside Los Angeles, the answer is a bit different than the typical answer. A successful young person, in my community, is generally someone who owns at least one handbag over $200, has more Instagram followers than Obama (kidding…sort of), and the forever magical word: popularity. Of course, this isn’t always true, but it is what is quite prominently felt in my life. The influence that Gossip Girl has over my school is sort of ridiculous (watch it if you haven’t, you will completely understand).
So, it’s been pretty difficult for me to understand just exactly how I should feel successful and proud of myself at the age I am at right now. Proud is a strong word, but what I mean is comfortable in your own shoes- or barefoot, if that’s more your style. There are several qualities that I try for desperately, just to feel comfortable in who I am, and these are them.
My drama teacher has a very matter-of-fact rule she addresses as soon as we walk into the room to audition for anything: “Leave your ego at the door”. And damn, do I wish I could everyday of my whole life!! Humility is so incredibly key to any single person’s life. Now, I’m not saying to be the most self-deprecating person in the world, or to completely be down on yourself forever. What I’m suggesting that there is a very fine line between arrogance and pride. Pride is something so magical. The fact that you can work so determinedly, excessively hard to accomplish something you want is amazing. And after all of that tireless, insane work (and unhealthy consumption of caffeine), you should be able to feel something other than the shitty feeling of stress. And pride is the best cure for nervousness. Pride is the most fulfilling feeling ever, for helping yourself, for helping others. Pride is freeing, in moderation. So own your triumphs, but please, don’t own. Every. Little. Thing. I understand that you are a great human being, but must you bring your “awesomeness” into every single conversation? Please, do not be that person. Being bold, brilliant, and proud is an awesome, awesome thing that makes me instantly wanting someone to be my friend, but arrogance is just so itchingly annoying. I don’t think that even Beyonce is arrogant. I mean, at least not to us fans. She’s such an amazing badass role model, and inspiring, and she’s aware of it but she uses herself to make everyone else feel good about themselves, too. When you shine, you subconsciously give other people around you to shine, too.
Another thing: understanding that not everything will go your way. One thing that has been so hard for me is the ability to be flexible. I am so not a “go with the flow” girl, spontaneity is sooo not my niche. But throughout time, I’ve learned that life is the definition of spontaneity. Literally. There is absolutely nothing in life that is one hundred percent predictable. The planet could get hit by a comet while you’re reading this, I could find out that my Hogwarts letter just got lost in the mail (as I’ve always secretly known, duhh). Nothing is definite- well, except for dying, but I’m trying, thanks to my parents’ begging, to not be so dark. I mean that when life throws big, disgusting chunks of crazy shit at you, grab it and twist into something managable. Complaining and doing nothing is an option for about ten minutes before those pesky little things called consequences come into play. So do something, even if it’s little, still figure the freaking problem out. So never expect the best. It may be cynical, but as the song goes, “Hoping for the best but expecting the worst” is key.
I don’t know what else to say, because to me, humility and adaptability are things I am really always desperately trying to acquire currently. These things are important. But you know what else is important? Being young. Being hormonal. Being stupid. So use this piece as a guide to, well, how to not be one of those more aggravating demonic people in high school. Trust me, I know quite a few. Go out there, be you. But why not be the best version of you that you can be?