On Competition and Lace

Competition.  It’s one of those things that everyone deals with, no matter who you are or what age you are.  I mean, sometimes it’s friendly competition in a game or a contest, sometimes it’s a workplace thing where there’s money, status, or a promotion involved, and sometimes it’s just downright nasty.  I know guys deal with competition as well as women, but for some reason it just seems like in women it’s just worse.  Maybe it’s because guys overtly compete with each other often and it’s all out in the open…whereas when women compete, well, you know what happens.  There’s so much subtext, so much NOT being said, so much that  would go unnoticed to the undiscerning eye…it tends to be hidden.  I think anyone who’s been around other women at any point in their lives (or maybe has just watched a few episodes of The Bachelor for that matter!) has experienced this.

In high school, there weren’t that many of us really since it was such a small school.  And fortunately we were all so vastly different that we didn’t have a ton of competition amongst us.  There were some girls who I could see that dynamic going on with, but it thankfully didn’t leak onto me.  And my best friend and I were the good kind of girl friends, the kind who supported each other and didn’t have this horrid love/hate relationship that some girls have going on.  But when I became the youngest girl singing on the band at church, things were a bit different.  Now I’d like to point out that for the most part, everyone INCLUDING the women were really sweet and supportive.  But there were those few who just really couldn’t behave that way.  There were the women who were insecure about themselves and had a hard time with me coming in and “threatening their position” as women so often feel about other women.  So when I eventually became the leader, I decided that I didn’t want this kind of competition to exist on the band because of how it felt to be the recipient of it.

I remember asking a new girl to sing on the band along side myself and another singer.  She was very excited to join us and complete our team.  On her first night at practice, she sang great and the other girl singing with her was so encouraging to her.  I could tell she was going to be just fine, however I could tell by her demeanor that she was emotionally struggling.  I could see it on her face that no matter what anyone said to her, she didn’t feel good enough to be there.  The competition she was feeling was internal…it wasn’t coming from anyone else around her.  So after practice, everyone left but her and the other singer and I asked her gently “how did it go for you?”  She crumbled…tears streaming down her face she sobbed out how she didn’t feel like she was a good enough singer to sing with me and the other girl, how she felt inadequate, and how she didn’t think she belonged.  We hugged her, reassured her a bunch that we wanted her there, that there was nothing about her that was inferior to either of us, and that there most definitely was a place for her with us.  By the time she left, her whole face changed.  She was smiling, excited, and acting appropriately according to the way the night had gone.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes no one around us is competing with us, and yet we are still competing with everyone around us?  I honestly feel like at this point in my life, I am my biggest competition.  I am constantly comparing myself to who I USED to be…like the jeans I still can’t quite wear yet…I am constantly trying to be better than I used to be and better than I am.  So many times I find myself feeling badly about myself, crumbling much like I watched that girl do so long ago, even though there’s no real reason to feel that way.  It comes with being a typical type A personality, being a woman, and just being the kind of person who often equates things like weight gain due to pregnancy with failure.  I’m always competing with me.

I think what I love about this outfit is that it’s not trying to be anything other than it is.  I love this vintage slip because it looks a lot like what For Love and Lemons is most likely inspired by, and it has slits in the sides so it makes it perfect for wearing over jeans without being too billowy.  The bells are from Show Me Your Mumu of course and the necklace is from Zachary Pryor on Etsy.

I keep reminding myself that instead of trying to mimic who I was before…I need to be who I am now.  I need to understand that it’s not failure to be different than I was before a lot of things changed in my life…it’s not failure, but a new opportunity to rediscover things about myself.  So I love to put together outfits like this that are unique in themselves and feel fresh and like the me that is now. I mean, if I compete with myself, who wins??  Yeah that’s a brain teaser isn’t it?

Happy weekend all!

On Rocking an Attitude and Tough Carrie Bradshaw

My two year old daughter is doing this new thing lately, where when you ask her to do something…anything really…and she tips her head to one side and says: “I can’t, mama.  I can’t.”  It’s freaking adorable and hilarious, but at the same time, it’s just so indicative of that little (and sometimes not so little) attitude that she has!  She is full of spice sometimes and has all the facial expressions and words to prove it.  I’m not surprised really, given that she is my daughter and I’ve been known to have attitude at one time or another!!!  I just don’t always express it to everyone because I tend to be sensitive to other people and will kind of swallow my ‘tude when I’m around people I don’t know super well.  But ask my husband, and he will tell you stories of my epic spiciness!

I’ve definitely, and thankfully, been allowed a lot of opportunities to tone down my attitude…I’ve been given the chance to change my attitude so that I can be hopefully more successful and graceful in my life.  Because the whole “I can’t…” thing is really only cute on a two year old, am I right?!?

When I was younger, I was given the chance to sing on the band at my church, the band I eventually ended up leading years later.  This was a HUGE opportunity for me, given that I was so young, had no experience singing in front of people whatsoever, and really had no confidence at all.  It was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me.  I then learned to play guitar so that I could start leading if the need arose, even though I only really learned four chords.  I figured out how to play just enough so that I could play the bulk of the songs, but with a bunch of cheats, and if someone asked me to play a chord outside of my repertoire, I was screwed.  I managed to be just fine, until one day at practice, the leader decided that he was going to play bass, and I was going to play guitar instead of him.  Totally fine.  And then I saw the chord.  It was a Bm.  I was screwed.  I most definitely could NOT play that chord gracefully, let alone be the ONLY guitar playing it.  I left practice feeling frustrated and like “I can’t…” (done with all of my daughter’s drama).  I called the leader, who, by the way, was NOT a very GRACEful person.  I was super nice and explained to him in not so many words that “I can’t” play that chord.  Being the super sensitive person he was, he  ripped me a new one.  He told me that if I didn’t figure out how to do it, he’d just replace me basically.  Yikes.  It was pretty horrible.  I said okay, hung up the phone, and cried.  Honestly, I would never have done or said what he said to anyone in that manner, because the way he said it was pretty unhelpful and made me feel like I was worthless in a lot of ways.  However, WHAT he said was correct.  I COULD do it, I needed to stop making excuses, and FIGURE IT OUT.  I did, I played the stinking Bm just fine, and eventually ended up leading the band (knowing FIVE chords, so basically as a total pro. :))

There was another night that I was supposed to sing, but I had a terrible cough and cold and I had pretty much lost my voice almost all together.  I showed up, started to sing with the leader, and by the end of practice, told him that “I can’t…” and that I pretty much had no voice left.  He just looked at me, and said, “can you sing one note?”  And I explained nicely that one note was about all I had that night.  He just said, ” well, good.  Sing that one note, because it’s not about you.”  Double yikes.  Again, I’m just not gruff like these guys tend to be, but hey, it really rocked my world all over again.  Oh wait, you mean everything is not ALL ABOUT ME???  Dang.  I sang that one note humbly that night, and learned that sometimes I am actually sporting a giant attitude even when I’m not intending to.  I CAN, not “I can’t…” needs to be my attitude for most things in life.  I toughened up so much being under these guys who had no patience or grace for “I can’t”.  I became someone who could learn to play or sing any song pretty much with almost no notice and with all of my five chords, because I CAN.  I learned to do my best and make it work and that it’s not always about me.  It’s helped me to be much more creative in my life and to figure out how things work for me…instead of just giving up and behaving like my daughter.

This outfit is my more graceful way of rocking an attitude in the correct way!  I mean, I feel like Carrie Bradshaw with a motorcycle!

I got this amazing pink tulle floaty Free People slip skirt from Ruby Rose and put it over skinny jeans to make it kind of tough.  I added Jeffrey Campbell lace up boots and a Zara knit turtleneck, because, well, it’s COLD!  I thought the thrifted sunglasses and gold jewelry gave it a nice little edge as well. :)

Well, that’s quite enough attitude for a Monday.  And now, it’s back to the toddlers, who know A LOT about attitudes!!!