Shame Cloaks and Jam Jars

Teenage years are like exclusive clubs.
Most of the time you’re not let in.

You watch from the sidelines as someone else – someone prettier or sportier or smarter than you – walks through the invisible doors to the join the rest of the people that you wish you were like.

Pain, you push it back.
Loneliness, you ignore.
But shame, shame you wear like a cloak.

Shame comforts you. You know it well. It’s what keeps you from entering into the exclusive clubs, or starting your own.

Shame holds together all of the lies that you’ve believed. Shame binds your insecurities with un-truths, and shame slowly suffocates you. Till you’re breathing half-breaths. Living a half-life.

What if you stopped believing the lies? What if you gave up your shame cloak and embraced your insecurities? What if you could understand that life itself is often an exclusive club?

I imagine then, if you could do that, that you’d be happy on the “outside.” That you’d experience the joy that comes from knowing yourself. That you’d understand that shame is like a mold growing inside the jam jar in your fridge – once you find it, all you need to do is let it go.

Good-bye moldy jam jar.
I’m better now without you.
I’m happy now.


The Genetic Lottery

I met with the founder of WriteGirl today.

The dynamic, Vancouver grown, Keren Taylor – founder of a non-profit in L.A. that empowers women and girls every day to express themselves and to find themselves through writing – had breakfast and shared stories with me today.

We had a charming breakfast date, she and I. We sipped deliciously foamy latte’s, remarked on the pacific northwestern style decor inside Rainier Provisions in Gastown, and talked a lot about girls. About women. About justice. About silence. About stories – 0ur stories.

She suggested that I watch Carmen Russell’s Ted Talk on beauty… so I did.

To be quite honest, shockingly honest, I haven’t watched a single Ted Talk yet.
I know, I know!!

I’ve heard the reviews, picked up on the buzz and excitement surrounding these short videos, been verbally supportive and excited myself with people, but I’ve never sat down and watched one myself.

Carmen’s talk was my first.

And you know what? The truth and impact of it all, of what she shared, was like a soggy wet spaghetti noodle, stuck to my neck.

It’s as if I’m the worst spaghetti eater in the world, and every day I have a noodle stuck on me somewhere. As if I can’t get rid of it even if I try. As if the beauty that she talked about, the beauty that society desperately desires and encourages, is the soggy wet spaghetti noodle that I’m stuck with.

And she’s right. I’ve lived so many days of my life with the same mindset – that I won a genetic lottery (completely by chance) and that there’s nothing I can do about how people perceive me. Some people judge me, stereotype me, and put me in boxes because of how I look. Others are impressed with me before I even open my mouth. Like the greasy looking man at the Jiffy Lube today who changed the oil on my car and gave me a $6 discount because I was a “pretty little thing.”

If only society didn’t view women as “things.”

If only society could place as much value on who we are, as it does on what we look like.

For the record, I do think we’re getting better. We’re evolving and we’re making strides towards further gender equality, but… we still have a long ways to go.

People like Keren Taylor give me hope and inspiration, and help me to believe that one day, I too will be a strong advocate for women. That I too will escape the pressures forced upon me and feel grounded in who I am and what I offer others.