Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Meanest Girl I Know

I recently encountered two articles on silencing the critical voice in your head. One was from Discovery Girls, a magazine by and for tween girls and the other from Oprah, for the grownup ones. Encountering two virtually identical articles in the same day meant for two different age groups gave me pause. Was it serendipity or a powerful reminder from the universe meant for me to hear? Both articles say: Maybe you have this image in your head of the way you want to be. Confident. Friendly. You also hear a voice, the one who insidiously insists you are untalented. Bad at everything. Just look at what everyone else is doing. How can you possibly compare?

What girl or woman can’t relate? There is a constant barrage of messages from outside ourselves that tell us we are falling short. It’s such old news. But why is it so hard to ignore it even when we have saavy BS detectors? I think part of the problem is that authentic stories are not always front and center, or even very valued. So much of what is geared toward women and girls in magazines and other literature is focused on how I can improve—especially making more money or spending time on my looks. Prescriptive stuff.

I have wanted to be a writer since I was a teenager and the whole time I have worked on my craft I have devoted myself to writing about the life of girls and women that goes beyond that. I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to find something like Discovery Girls and read stories written by fabulous everyday girls supporting each other through friendship and mutual interest.

I can’t remember when the meanest girl I know took up residence in my own head. It seems like she’s always been there. But the more I thought about it, the more it became one of those no-duh moments. Getting that mean girls out of my head is what gives my writing purpose and gets me going day after day.