Updated: Mar 5, 2019
"Ain’t no shame ladies do your thang"
For the last two weeks I’ve been taking pole dancing classes. I’ve always wanted to and my husband found a deal with a local gym so now I’m covered in bruises but it’s a lot of fun. Like any workout, each class starts out with a warm-up. For pole dancing, that warm-up is essentially doing yoga to rap music and let me tell you; I am about that life. More importantly, this place has somehow found the magical balance of being open and welcoming to every variation of human around while still supporting a sense of healthy competition and personal growth. The most remarkable thing about that statement is that this place is, as you may have suspected, primarily female.
My point for speaking about this gym is not meant as an advertisement of any sort but rather bringing up the thought that women don’t have the best track record in supporting women. We are catty, are we not? To be honest, even in this class there is one girl who is gorgeous and clearly a skilled pole dancer. My first internal reaction was to make fun of her giant forehead in my mind to ease my intimidation of her booty shorts. I have since admitted to myself how wrong this is and have made an effort to maintain a healthier lifestyle rather than judge her with squinted eyes for killing it in class while sporting a wide variety of mesh crop tops.
My last post left me stepping down from a soap box regarding feminine success in the workplace. I have a lot of feelings regarding this topic in general and little to no faith in my ability to express them clearly. Namely and shamelessly, I am disjointed on the topic because I am female. I am speaking entirely from personal experience while still trying to keep an open mind to the experiences and hypothetical situations that I have not encountered. Mine is a very limited pool of knowledge so please, I beg you not to take offence but rather let me know any criticisms you may have. If I am ignorant, I ask forgiveness and correction via insight I am lacking.
Previously, I touched on the fact that my limited success was largely due to my successful husband. Given that he is currently caring for our child while I'm writing these thoughts that have been muddled by Merlot, I’m going to go ahead and say any measure of success I have experienced thus far with outpast2 is solely due to his support. This statement in itself is loaded though. It begs the acknowledgment that caring for children is the women’s primary duty least the husbands be rewarded for their efforts when they play the role of the father. Modernly speaking, this is not a given assumption but still the truth for the vast majority for mothers with young children. Why? It is true that some men are known to stay at home while their respective wives are the primary money earners in the family. I am not speaking to you but I do wish you the best of luck regarding the judgments that you undoubtedly face on a regular basis. I do not share those judgments and do not fully understand them but I am aware of their existence. You have my respect. It is also important to note that while my verbiage doesn’t specifically give examples of same-sex couples, the same thought processes apply. Love is love and you also have my respect. Lastly, I am not speaking to single parents. You guys are super heroes far superior to me with abilities beyond my comprehension. You deserve everyone’s respect. I am simply reflecting on the magical balance that most women constantly search for. The idea of "having it all" and I'll spare you my mansplaning of that school of thought.
I did not go back to work in my field but that was mine and my husband’s choice. Same as how it was our choice to breastfeed for a year, co-sleep for 4 months, and vaccinate as our doctors recommended. I hope every parent who reads this on accident or otherwise feels just as confidant in his/her choices as I did mine; be-it out of necessity, personal preference, or otherwise. You do you and only you and your spouse are the ones who may speak to what is best for your family on any topic.
Regarding guilt-free life decisions, I am speaking pretty specifically to the 26-year-old version of myself. The girl who was old enough to care for herself but too scared to put herself out there for any critical feedback. The girl who was fiercely independent but equally protective of her heart. I am speaking to the girl who took a job when she needed a job just because it was a job and then spent every spare and exhausted moment trying to find peace in whatever hobby she secretly or publicly wished would become her reality.
You, girl, do not need to choose to be successful out of necessity but rather realize that success is measured differently by everyone. Speaking as an older and wiser version of myself, I wish I could have put more emphasis on happiness. Two people in my life come to mind when I speak of happiness. The first is an old employee/co-worker from my time at the winery who was working on boiling down a bit of life philosophy. His thought process was that everything we do is driven from one thing: The pursuit of happiness. I’ve heard him talk extensively about it and I am inclined to agree with him. Think about your actions and the root that causes each of them; I believe you may reach the same conclusion. The other person is a former boss from the oil and gas world who made a point of letting everyone know how much he loved his job. His words inspired me to keep searching past my career path at the time because it did not elicit the same emotional response that he shared with anyone who would listen: Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. For me, owning my own business is a ton of work but also a very enjoyable and rewarding use of my time. It is in line with what I love and I feel successful with it.
I believe my husband has found a successful path that he is both an expert at and genuinely enjoys. Admittedly so, part of my criteria for a spouse was his ability to be independently successful and therefore independently happy. Having been in deeply dependent relationships in the past, I’ve learned that I do not thrive in them. My husband has provided the opportunity for me to be a stay at home mother and now that’s my priority and it is also my happiness. I am lucky and thankful to have the flexibility to grow outpast2 at my own speed. This may not be in line with your priority and that’s awesome, too. To the ladies reading this: You do not need to find a partner, in any capacity of the word, with the soul intention of survival. You do need to provide something to society that is worth a sustainable lifestyle that in turn meets your standards, so focus on finding something that makes you happy all by yourself first. It took me quite a while and I don't think I'm finished just yet if we're being honest. Previously I mentioned my plethora of job/career opportunities and I've found happiness and learned lessons from all of them - too many professional and personal life lessons to list here. Rest assured, they are wildly all over the place but at the end of the day I've become domesticated to the point of actually looking forward to my time in the kitchen... especially when creating desserts.
So, after all of that, I want to encourage women to use their skills to the best of their ability. Whatever that means to you, work it. What I don’t want to see is anything giving credit as to why you aren’t living your best life. You do you and you be amazing in your own right. Shout out and let me know what that looks like because I am eager AF to celebrate your accomplishments. I've relied on the kindness of strangers in some of my most desperate times and have since always wanted to support and encourage anyone I cross paths with, if I am able. I've found inspiration from individuals who never shared their names with me because they were too busy helping me without expectation of compensation. I'm in constant awe of those who have done great things with minimal resources. People can be incredible and I hope someone proves that to you today in whatever way you need it. Then I hope you pay it forward and support others' successes as much as you support your own. It's perfectly okay to pull yourself up without pushing others down. By all means, stay on top of the competition in your respective field without naivety, but know what you’re getting into. In the words of the ever-flowing wisdom that is Missy Elliott, “Ain’t no shame, ladies do your thang. Just make sure you're ahead of the game.” So, if pole dancing makes you happy, work it. Any woman who pursues her happiness and feels successful in her own eyes is doing it right. I hope you are met with support more often than jealousy or criticism because we face enough challenges without our fellow ladies being part of them. So stand tall in your figurative or actual stripper heels - everyone will literally look up to you.