Yeah, I mean they’re just different.
My friend from home and I drove around my new state today and were making comparisons the entire time.
Us trying to figure out how to describe the stark, yet completely immeasurable differences between the two states was almost as complicated as first comprehending that imaginary numbers, are not, in fact imaginary.
No joke, we would talk about the trees for ten minutes, then come to the conclusion that “Yeah, I mean they’re just different.” Or the roads, “They’re just… different.” The layout of the city… “It’s just weird.”
Culture shock – in America? Or two people who don’t like change dealing with it very poorly?
Tthat is the American Dream.
You know what is fascinating about the East Coast? People in the service industry do not talk to you.
And I love it.
I drove through toll booths today and exchanged precisely no words with the people taking my toll. Well, one word, I said thanks. Because I’m a Midwestern plebeian who has had awkward, small talk manners forced into my personality.
But here on the East, I don’t have to say a word, and that – that is the American Dream.
Spring is not a subtle season.
Winter has always been my favorite season; I’m cuter in the winter. But one of my favorite things in general is when seasons change. I like the transition of the seasons, the subtle changes the little things. And then suddenly it is a new season.
Today, for example, it is finally spring in the North East.
The edges of the air are warm, even when the air is cool. The sun is warm and bright, and the heat has been shut off so the windows can be open. And the flowers are out! Purple and white crocus, yellow daffodils are all poking their heads out of the mud.
Spring is not a subtle season, we don’t ease into it. Spring just appears and today it did.
Like we need a title for it to count. Like we need the money for it to mean something…
I went home the other weekend and experienced something fascinating: I had more people ask about my husband’s work than ask about mine.
Now, he is doing something exciting and I legitimately love talking about him and his achievements. I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me to talk about his PhD and the fact that his current job is literally getting paid to read. It’s the best job in the world for him and he is flourishing, which is amazing to see and share.
But, ok, he got in a year ago and he’s doing it for the next five years.
I, on the other hand, am embarking on a new career! I’m in a new space and doing new things. And no one really asked me about it. I mean my closest people talked to me about my stuff and my jobs and they’re great (so, guys, I’m not talking to you, you rock). But in general the focus was on my husband.
So, I’ve thought about it and developed two theories as to why.
- People just don’t know how to talk to someone who isn’t working. I get it. I was nervous trying to figure out what I was going to say when people asked me what I was doing. There’s a negative stigma about not having a career, even internally. It’s like a constant battle between figuring out what’s good for you, but also not wanting to appear lazy. Which is ridiculous – but who cares if you say that because you never feel it. I know it’s not just me feeling this either. I can see it in the subtle head tilt I see people do when they say they’re stay at home moms or dads. They look to the right and say something like “I’m a mom, but I also do…” Like somehow they have to be more than moms. But motherhood is enough, it is everything you need. It’s not just parents though, you watch for it the – look right, ” Oh I’m doing online work, but I’m also…” Like we need a title for it to count. Like we need the money for it to mean something… And people sensed the tilt would be my response, so they just didn’t ask. They were just as ashamed of my not having a career and I was about saying that.
- People assume that the man’s job is more important. This may be a feminist outburst – or just a social construct. Or maybe I’m reading into things – but I think it does hold weight. In general, since getting married, I’ve noticed that people are significantly less interested in my career than they were before marriage. People have been asking about my husband’s prospects five years down the road, but not mine a week from now. I think maybe there is an underlying assumption that he should be supporting me, so why even bother asking.
I imagine that there were a lot of reasons that people didn’t ask. And some people fall into the categories listed above, and others just knew my status and therefore didn’t feel the need to ask. Whatever the reason, next time someone asks maybe I’ll say “finding my bliss” just to screw with them.
My dog sleeping on the cement floor instead of his (or my) bed has to be some form of pacifistic protest against not getting table scraps.
Let’s talk about the serious struggle of picking out the perfect interview outfit. And I’m not talking about dress code. I know the dress code:
- Conservative, but not stuffy
- Makeup light, but well done
- Jewelry elegant, but delicate
- Patterns and florals are ok, but nothing too bold
- No rips, no stains, no denim, nothing tight or too long
And I own business attire that matches all this criteria. In fact, I own a closet full. However, it’s not about the checklist, it is about checking boxes and feeling great in those boxes.
Take, for example, a navy suit with a light blue blouse and tan pumps. Perfect for an interview – unless you have to walk – then the heels don’t make sense. And if it’s hot out, the blazer will be too much. So, slacks and a blouse with a cardigan… But flats can be a problem if it rains, and how to prevent everything from wrinkling on the drive there. Plus, everything has to fit perfectly, and being short means the sweater sleeves will always be too long.
Presence is about feeling good, feeling confident, and finding an outfit that doesn’t make you ask the continuous questions and second guessing that I listed above.
Here’s to women who came before us. Those who faced down the battles so we didn’t have to. Sacrificed, so we would have more. And hurt in ways that we can’t even imagine.