As a teenage girl in a small town, one of my favorite activities to do with friends was "go for a walk" on Main Street. This was, of course, in hopes of finding cute boys driving by who mutually thought we were cute and would honk at us to show their approval of our hotness. I know I'm not the only one who enjoyed this as a favorite warm weather past time (::ahem:: LINDSAY), but there was something that was simply intoxicating about being found pleasing to the eye by passers by.
I vividly remember the first time a car full of guys honked at me. Looking back, I'm 99% positive they were mocking me (leaving 1% doubt is actually being quite generous), but I didn't realize it until many years later. I was in 6th grade (the first clue I was being teased, not admired) and riding my bike down Main Street (The riding-my-bike part being the second clue). I was wearing my big
er than average gold rimmed glasses and happened to be wearing my Hanson t-shirt. If I remember correctly, and I do, it even said, "Mmmm-Bop", on the back. Clearly, I was the vision of beauty. As I passed by the old furniture warehouse, I received my first ever honk. I. was. thrilled. I had finally arrived.
Eventually, I outgrew my Hanson t-shirt, blossomed into a young woman, and the fact that young men were honking at me wasn't completely insane. It was, however, intoxicating. I wanted to be wanted. I found so much gratrification and affirmation in it. It was something that I don't think I was ever fully cured of during my teenage years. Ohhh sure, I was temporarily treated for it during relationships in high school and such, but without affirmation from the opposite sex, I was so unsure of myself.
Fast forward to life today. I'm 25 now, and I noticed recently as I walked down the very same Main Street that I haven't been honked at in a while. A long while, actually. The last time it happened I remember being completely thrown off and unsure of the dress I had chosen to worn that day. "What was it about this dress that made them honk?", I asked myself. It was the first and last time I have ever worn that particular thrift store find. When I am honked at now, it's usually by a friend who is driving by and we make eye contact with just enough time to exchange smiles as I begin to lift my hand to wave at their rear view mirror.
Fast forward 10 years from my first story. I was 22 years old and newly engaged. It was an August day and I was walking to the post office in Grand Haven to mail wedding invitations when a car full of guys pulled up to a stoplight and made a disgusting comment about the size of my chest. Dis-gus-ting. My initial reaction was to turn and give them the finger (something that is very much out of my character!) but I suprised even myself with what came out of my mouth. I turned and looked at the boys in the car, pointed my finger at them, and said in a firm, bold, and slightly elevated voice,
"Honor women. Honor them."
Just then the light turned green and their shocked faces drove off towards the lakeshore. My hands were shaking with anger but my heart was soaring with surprise and self satisfaction at my response. Where did that come from? I still don't know. But I have a feeling it was just what they needed to hear. Men are rarely called up and out to honor the women in their lives, and after showing me such a dishonor, I hope their hearts were convicted.
It is such a relief to be with a man who loves me enough, so I don't have to go looking for it elsewhere. His attention is enough. His affection is enough. I hope this is true for us always. Just last night as we walked through the mall I thanked Josh for the gift of being loved. Being loved enough eliminates my need to be noticed by men, yes, but it also eliminates my need to feel competitive with other women. I find myself complimenting women more and not feeling threatened by them. There is so much freedom in being loved, and being loved enough.
I realize now that part of life is finding out who I am and trying to live that out every day regardless of the opinions of others.
I want to wear clothes because I like them and they make me feel great about myself. I want to do my hair every day and try new things with it so that I feel pretty and 'finished'. I want to wear high heels because I LIKE HIGH HEELS even if I AM 5'9. I want to ignore exclamations like, "Wow, you're so tall!" and I want all 69 inches of me (71 if I'm wearing heels) to walk gracefully and confidently. I want to take care of myself for my own health and my own well being but also so my husband always thinks I'm bonafied f-o-x. I want to do all of these things knowing that the only head I am trying to turn is Josh's, not another man, and for that matter, not other women. (It is also a temptation to not dress/act/look a certain way for the affirmation of compliments from women too, isn't it?)
I want my self esteem and self worth to never again come from people looking on the outside. It will be difficult, I know, and sure, it's nice to receive compliments because I am a woman, after all. I just think our need for approval, especially as women, is downright crippling.
I haven't gotten the hang of this completely, because I realize that a lot of my self worth and feelings of confidence come from myself and that is a process that will continually challenge every woman til the day she dies, and an entire separate blog post, I'm sure. I'm just thankful that I've narrowed the audience with the most weight down to two: Josh and me. I want to continue to strive to disregard the preferences of others and press on finding the things that make me, well, me.