You Don’t Own Me!
One of my favorite movies of all time is “First Wives Club”. The story of 3 women who reconnect at the funeral of a college classmate who committed suicide because her husband left her for a younger woman; is an iconic comedy that is retribution at it’s finest.
But it’s the ending that gets me every time I see the famous scene of Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton and Bette Midler, all dressed in white, dancing out the door of their “First Wives Club” to the 1963 Leslie Gore song -“You Don’t Own Me!”, written by John Madara and David White.
“Don’t tell me what to say. Don’t tell me what to do”. . . the lyrics tell the tale of women who have been through adversity; found the way out and grown because of it. They’ve found their true self independent of the men in their lives who, by the way, wish they had not thought the grass greener on the other side of the fence!
Who Truly Owns Me?
The image suggests that at some point in our lives, we know who we truly are; only to have the world tell us who we should be.
REALITY: For most of our growing up years, the world demands we be who it says we must be. By “world”, I mean parents and other family members, teachers, pastors, older mentors – even peers. While well-meaning, their demands are more a reflection of who they are (or have always wanted to be) than about who we truly are! Too often, we are sculpted in the mold of folks living out their unfulfilled dreams through us. Unfortunately, our youthful naivete’ isn’t wise enough or mature enough to know any different. So we adopt others labels as our own; assuming that’s the woman we are at our core!
Truth is, our true identity is captive to a world who desires us to be who and what they want us to be! The question of self becomes who “owns” me? Is it the true me of whom I have caught glimpses throughout my life? Or is it those about me who would define me according to their own dead dreams and desires?
And, as the image suggests, do I recall that woman whose truth emerged, from time to time before sinking back into what others required of me?
The Easy Way Out Is A Trap. . .
It’s easy to just let others define us. We don’t have to engage the fight, even if it is a “good fight”.
We don’t have to push the goad or row upstream to the angry looks of those going with the flow of the “usual and customary”.
Why not simply slink into the mold others made for me, accepting it as my reality – whether it is or not?
But the easy way out is not “out” at all. It’s a trap that denies our deepest desires and thwarts our coming into the destiny for which we were born. It’s to deny the God-given uniqueness that placed His seal on our soul. It’s the decision to play safe the game of life and never achieve our true and lasting heritage!
But It Hurts!
Yes, it does. It does indeed hurt to break out of the mold made by others eager hands, to find the true self we once knew was our authentic being. After all, won’t our parents be angry. . or worse yet, deeply hurt? Won’t those who poured so much into the masks of clay turn their backs on us? Won’t those who matter most be in utter dismay that we cracked the shell of a shell life to find our authentic womanhood outside of their dominance?
All the above is highly possible. In fact, most likely probable. But if we desire a sense of personal (and professional) fulfillment; we must take the risk of asserting our own reality rather than that of others!
The Obvious. . .
I know what I’ve written thus far is obvious. Especially the last paragraph above. The obvious may be what I want to avoid. And I can do so by arrogantly throwing sarcastic words to the wind owning that what is said is “obvious”. But ultimately, such actions will do nothing to advance the cause of walking into skin that is an authentic fit because it belongs to no one but me!
TRUTH: It’s not that the obvious is so trite; but that it’s so true.
Over the years, I’ve learned that what is the most obvious and least “ah-ha” is that which has the greatest potential for a life-changing outcome. I’ve also learned that without a desire to stay focused and searching; I’ll miss the most obvious because I’m looking for the out-of-the-ordinary bombastic life events that have little or nothing to do with who I truly happen to be!
Don’t Tell Me. . .
Let me find it for myself. Lead me, guide me, nurture me, mentor me. . . but don’t tell me. Point me in the right direction; but don’t stand in my way!
Don’t tell me what to say; for the voice and words I speak must be my own! Stand at the back of my life’s stage and applaud each note I’ve found for myself that rings true for no one but me!
And back me up when I dance out on the stage of life with the peace of knowing who I am, wrapped in a blanket of authenticity that fits me just fine!
Linda S. Fitzgerald, M.S.Ed, CEO & Visionary Partner
Champion of Ordinarily Extraordinary Women of the World
A Women’s Place Network, Inc. dba
Affiliated Women International
Enriching Women in Business Worldwide
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