Meet the Bride
Every little girl dreams of finding true love, and at age 13 I was sure I had. Unfortunately my adolescent boyfriend misplaced it... in a movie theater … with a girl from my biology class. It was freshman finals week and I wept big crocodile tears all over the state placement exams. Somehow I cried my way into 96th percentile.
Before I was ever given the opportunity to obsess over grade point averages or smother a budding love interest, I remember saying: “I will never be as good at anything as I am at school.” I was in the sixth grade. It became a punchline I repeated for years, and even though it could have been stated proudly it was closer to a softball attempt at self deprecation... a word I learned to spell the following year. The kind of joke you know is a dipping of the toe, a test drive of an embarassing truth.
And I was kinda right. I would come to realize that when it comes to relationships, romantic and otherwise I am … as they say .. “too much.” I know this because I was told so, at age 13, 15, 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, by the objects of my affection - friends, crushes, flings, and boyfriends -
• that I'm OVERLY intense, passionate, anxious, doting, principled, obsessive.
• that I can be INSUFFERABLY logical OR ideological, rigid OR emotional
• that I have TOO MANY expectations that are TOO HIGH
• that I place TOO MUCH emphasis on [insert: my success, my control, my activism, my work, my grades, my relationships, my vision, my flaws, my dreams, my reputation, my life, my death et cetera. et cetera, et cetera.]
While this collection of traits can be overwhelming to me and certainly for others, it was the 6th grade me who realized early on that my endless energy, curiosity, and will to win was never unwelcome in class. I could be as intense or obsessive as I wanted and it was only ever met with praise and recognition. At the end of high school I was ranked top 20 in my class.
Growing up in the Bible Belt meant that after graduation my hometown friends were collecting their MRS. and MR. credits at a competitive pace, but I chose to move to New York to follow a different dream. Four years later I was preparing to graduate Summa Cum Laude from F.I.T., and six months after that the work I’d done in college was really paying off. I was hired at the firm I’d set my sights on two years earlier and was working with the exact public sector clients I’d wanted, plus my efforts at the office were being rewarded with raises and promotions. That’s when the thoughts started creeping in…
Despite being the proud militant/ contemporary/intersectional feminist I’m known as now, at the time, the thoughts flitting through my head were a non-stop channel of self-inflicted sexism, societal expectations, and outdated gender norms. I saw a future for myself I felt would be viewed as inadequate or questionable by my peers and highly disappointing to my family. Yet somehow I also knew it was unavoidable.
Here’s an excerpt of an interview I did in 2015 for a documentary on the human condition.
The question: What are you most afraid of?