Five years ago a colleague of mine pulled me into an office and closed the door. She said she needed to tell me something. We had been in the middle of a fascinating me-led conversation about the history and structure of the English language, about how the Plague had forced the high and lower class dwellers of modern day UK together and how it was precisely at this point in time when the Normans and the Anglo-Saxon peoples began to HAVE to learn to understand each other in order to survive. And about the evolution of Old and Middle and Modern English and the Great Vowel Shift and back further the Norman Invasion of 1066. I was brimming with excitement basking in a crowd of three who were just as interested as I was in these nerdy and somewhat irrelevant-to-2008 trivia bites.
The copier clicked and clacked behind us as others looked askance at us (no doubt doing double takes to see what language WE were speaking. I am quite positive I was reciting…”Fæder ure, þu þe eart on heofonum…” the Lord’s Prayer in Old English. That and a host of nearly all lessons learned from Dr. Mendoza’s History and Structure of the English Language course which I’d taken as a senior at Trinity. Somewhere in the middle of our hyperlinguistic conversation, my jaw had drooped and my eyes had wandered to the 1990’s-threaded carpet. Lightning-quick I had become aware that I was talking too much. About nothing important. To people I barely knew.
In the office, my colleague stared at me.
“Why don’t you have more confidence in what you are saying? We were literally hanging on every word you said. Like hanging.”
Ten years ago one of my best friends and I were walking behind the back buildings on campus at dusk. Our heads glowing under crowns of gold cast by the last bits of sunlight coming through the trees. It was an August evening and we were again talking about dating and why it would or maybe wouldn’t work out for us two, us two particularly close, particularly philosophical, particularly head-in-the-cloud sojourners.
At our favorite treeside hill, we stopped and sat. Me in my favorite hole-in-the-knee jeans, heart in my throat. I knew where this conversation would end.
“I don’t understand why you don’t have any confidence. The most beautiful thing about a woman to me is her confidence,” he murmured.
Fifty days ago my husband and I had a hailstorm argument. Angrier than ever my after-fight retreat was to make a list of all the things that I would never do again. Things that had sent this conversation into it’s downward spiral. Most of them started by my persistent belief in lies about myself.
“Why do you believe all these ridiculous things about yourself?” he asks me time and time again. “Stop it.”
So I’m starting this blog to connect the dots in my life to the new road I’m traveling down these days. I’m a 21st Century poet with millions of pictures and shadows in my head at once. I’m here to explore the ways I really am, not the lies that I’ve persistently believed about myself for more than 10 years. I’m here to discover too where these lies came from and how I can dispel them not only for myself but also for other women, moms, daughters, grandmothers, sisters and girls everywhere.
Not that men lack confidence.
But that women lose out a whole lot more when they do.