Life gave me the gift of lemons today. For a moment, I found myself flung from the presence and mindfulness that has rooted me to my new home. It’s hard for me to admit this publicly, but I know we all experience it from time to time: I was grappling with a bout of social anxiety.
My whole life, I’ve been quirky. It started when I pushed my mom away as a toddler, telling her: I do it by all myself. I’ve been a tomboy. I’ve been loud. I’ve been outspoken. I’ve used vulgarity. I’ve been terrifically sarcastic. I’ve been justly and unjustly opinionated. Throughout my whole life, I’ve been very, very Mallorie. Love me or hate me, I’m just me. I don’t know how to be anything else.
At a glance, I’m kind of like a kiwi or something. Kinda gnarly and rough at first take, but soft on the inside. When there’s drama in my life, I really struggle. I’ve never been the type of girl to have a solid girl-crew or even to claim my femininity. I’d much rather keep up with the boys; no drama, no bullshit, just do it.
Girls have always been a sore subject for me. I’m friendly with girls, sure, but I don’t understand how to be a delicate lady-flower. I don’t know how to tone it down. I don’t know how to be cute. I don’t know how to be pretty. I can be pretty singularly-focused and often times, it’s to the detriment of my female relationships.
[Realizing as I’m writing this: Uh-oh, this might be a long one…]
In high school, I had a few female best friends, but nothing that lasted more than two years (ish.) There was a moment when I was incredibly dedicated to springboard diving. It was my entire life. I spent hours each day developing dive sequences, dreaming up my next trick for an upcoming meet… I was so singularly focused that I lost sight of my team and drew resentment from the girls that didn’t understand me. They didn’t understand my need for isolation to obtain complete concentration to push my diving to new heights, new tricks and record setting scores.
One girl in particular decided that she’d had enough of my obscurity and turned otherwise un-opinionated teammates against me, talking behind my oblivious back. And let me tell you: it utterly broke my heart.
My whole world was diving and when I was able to see beyond my blinders, I only saw girls that had no desire to engage with me. This was only compounded by the fact that other members of my small sphere had decided that my relationship with my coach was inappropriate, as evidenced by the favoritism he demonstrated by attentively coaching me and providing me with every opportunity to thrive (how dare he.) I’d like to publicly say that he never did anything wrong and never overstepped a single boundary. But in a small community, gossip is fun — even at the cost of a teenage girl’s happiness and relative sanity.
So, all of that baggage out of the way: when a girl decides she has beef with me, I freak out. I don’t know what to do. I already feel like the odd-girl-out as it is, which I’ll acknowledge is part self-fulfilling prophecy and part I-don’t-give-a-shit-I-just-want-to-keep-up-with-the-boys. If you’re an odd girl like me, be strong. I’d never trade my bold personality to fit the norm. When I encounter odd girls like me, it stokes me out because I know that “well behaved women seldom make history.” Be brave. Go forth. Make history. Make motherfucking lemonade.