Sometimes I wonder to myself if it appears online that I ‘have it all‘ and don’t have any challenges in my life. Although I must admit that I have been incredibly fortunate to date (I never want to take anything for granted), I too have had a handful of struggles. Although I mention some of my difficulties from time to time here on the blog, I have many more that I will discuss as I become more and more comfortable. One challenge (and I am aware in the big scheme of things what people struggle with that this is slightly insignificant) that I continue to have to deal with is being judged by others based on my interests or how I may present myself.
When I saw the tee and slip dress ensemble come back in style over the past year, I was excited to see my favorite Clueless look become popular again. Growing up, I loved Clueless and dreamed of one day having a closet just like Cher. As much as this look allows me to reminisce about one of my favorite movies from the 90s, it more importantly reminds me of a backhanded ‘compliment’ I once received….that has helped me grow as an individual.
Growing up throughout my childhood and adolescents, school came easy to me. Although I was always conscientious of my grades, to others it likely appeared that I didn’t give two thoughts about my education. I was often not paying attention (as I was busy planning where the next sleepover would be) or I would be late for class (I mean…I had some important discussions to have by my locker with my girls). However, what people may have not known is that I actually was interested in learning and that I did take my education very seriously. To be honest, back in my school days, I never really thought about it. I went about my way being social and enjoying the dramatics of high school that I never thought anyone noticed how I was doing academically. This was until I received a not so nice ‘compliment.’
My high school was large but there was only a handful of students who were enrolled in the advanced science classes. Whether it was chemistry, physics or biology…I was always amongst those who dreamed of becoming the next scientist, physician or dentist. One day I was told that a certain male student (who I have known for my entire childhood) had referred to me as the ‘smartest dumb girl‘ he has ever met. The second I heard this comment my heart shank. Wait? What? Does he think I am dumb or smart? I am confused. Why would he think of me as dumb? I am enrolled in all the same classes. I make similar (if not higher) grades. I have received all the same awards as he has during awards night each year. Why would he say such a thing?
….and then I reflected (as I do). His comment wasn’t about me at all…it was a reflection of him. When people think things are unjust or that achievements do not seem fitting, if they are insecure in their own lives, then they will try to bring others down. To be honest, although this comment was backhanded, I took it as praise. I reflected on the fact that we have perceptions of what people should look like, should do and how people should act in certain roles that they play. What was threatening to this student was that I didn’t fit in this cookie cutter vision he (and most of society) had for me….and to him this was threatening.
This comment wasn’t the first backhanded compliment I have recieved and was certainly not that last. I have dealt with these comments most of my life. Luckily, I have gotten to a place where they don’t affect me anymore (seriously not at all….it took a lot of work to get to this place). When I hear such inappropriate and derogatory comments I often laugh and say to myself… ‘the jokes on you.’ What I love about being a woman that is educated is that I can be my true self (cute shoes and all) but I don’t feel the need to prove anything to anyone anymore as my credentials speak for themselves. So Mr. Insecure……thank you! Thank you for showing me at a young age that stereotypes still exist, that sexism is still prevalent and that I can be anything I want to be…..while still wearing my favorite Gucci shoes!
Shop my ‘not so clueless‘ look below…and please remember, you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone!
Blare June xx