Throughout the first and most malleable three decades of my life, I’ve identified with – or more accurately idealized – women of three sorts:
- The girl next door/Tomboy. Jo was my favorite of Alcott’s Little Women as she couldn’t be bothered by romance but preferred to play with and as hard as boys. I cheered for Betty over Veronica and admired Christina Ricci in Now and Then who tapes her boobs down fearing that they could only cause trouble. I envied her ingenuity growing up until I discovered sports bras, still a wardrobe staple.
- The badass cop chick. These examples could go on for days. Just about every cop show has one amazing woman who uses her own tragic past to fuel her bad-assery in the field. Beckett from Castle and Jane from Blindspot are favorites. Rouge from the X-Men also falls into this category, though not a cop, she fights evil all the same. Plus, she’s got really cool hair.
- The smart, sarcastic woman. Think Dorothy from the Golden Girls or Donna from That Seventies Show. These women always seem to be tall and regal while aiming cutting-yet-illuminating remarks with surgical precision at friend and foe alike. In a flash, though, if thrown into unfamiliar territory, they look as awkward as a moose on skates.
What does all this mean? Quite possibly that I watch too much TV. Admiring and being are very different things after all. I have attempted to mold aspects of my life to resemble bits of each of these characters, blending them together at various junctions. Playing the tomboy was easy growing up in the shadow of two brothers, wearing their hand-me-downs, playing percussion, and getting tattoos as they did. As an off-shoot of this, I attempted Taekwondo, Muay Thai, triathlons, and various foot races throughout my life to earn my own badass chick brand. I never was a cop, but I taught many in Indonesia (read a blog about it here). Being tall was in the genetic cards (thanks Mom and Dad!), and add in silent observation with a hint of a compassionate smile, and boom, instant regality! The witty sarcasm is harder to cultivate, but I still fancy myself fluent in the language.
While I achieve some shining moments in playing each one of these characters convincingly (sometimes even with Instagram proof!), the only character Hollywood would typecast me as would be the roller-skating moose. I’m a people pleaser to the core, powered by mild to severe social anxiety, self-deprecation my only sidekick. I’m also totally self-diagnosed, but 30+ years of life have taught me that I think – or more accurately overthink – a little differently than everyone else. I chew over how my words will be received so many times that the moment is always gone before I can spit them out (Shhh! It’s the secret to my regal silence). Entering a room full of strangers is so paralyzing I can only concentrate on what each pair of eyes is judging me about…my clothes, actions, smell? Don’t even get me started on karaoke. My mind was its own neatly-packaged torture chamber. Now that I’m more aware of it, it’s a never-ending source of social experimentation. Only the hypotheses I investigate are the truths that everyone else seems to have known since birth. Will the girl next to me on the bus point and laugh at me if I try to engage her in conversation? Let’s see!
This blog is now all part of the experiment. I intend to write about my experiences traveling abroad through the lens of an anxiety-prone moose on roller skates – or Gish out of water, if you will. If you’re here to read about packing tips for Europe, the must-eat street foods in Asia, the top things to do in New Zealand, don’t click away, you might find those, too! Mostly, though, I’ll just be giving an honest glimpse into my brain as I (and my annoyingly persistent boyfriend) wade into many unchartered territories (like hostel kitchens…Nooooooo!). I’m hoping that you’ll find value in this as well. As Jo’s father said of her successful writing at the end of Little Women:
There is truth in it, Jo, that’s the secret; humor and pathos make it alive, and you have found your style at last.