Listen to Pgh Dreamer’s Pod: https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/V3IJT2PZWAb
I always wanted to be treated as an equal. I knew I had some brains, but as a teen, I realized that didn’t get me the respect I desired. In particular, I took great notice of the respect differences allotted to boys versus girls…and tried my best to become ‘one of the guys’.
My friend circle in those days consisted of girls and boys. Sure, I did the traditionally ‘girl’ activities such as dancing and drill team, but I also craved more masculine activities, like mosh-pitting at concerts and pulling pranks. I didn’t want to be seen as just graceful or flexible; I wanted to be seen as strong. And as a teenager, I didn’t exactly know how to do this besides platonically hanging out with boys and removing my femininity.
I spent the majority of high school attending concerts and throwing girliness aside – with my skater sneakers, baggy clothes, and dark makeup. During senior year into the early years of college, I actually played in a touring band in which I was the only female. When I got the ‘gig’ if you will, I decided to go full in and chopped off all of my hair. I figured if I looked less like a girl, I would be treated less like a girl.
It somewhat worked. There were moments when I fit in completely, drinking too much and rocking out to loud music even when I really wanted to just curl up and read a book. I also recall a few times when a venue owner would mistake me for a boy as they did our mic check.
At first, I felt cool – I was just one of them. But then there were a few instances where someone would make a comment about the way I looked, like I really should try to be sexier or more feminine. It especially made me question everything when the male circle around me would make comments about how attractive they found these other female lead singers who certainly weren’t trying to underplay their girlish figure.
After that confusing period, it took me many years to really find my true self. I went through many different phases of my identity – was I a keyboard player? or girlfriend material? was I a budding scientist? or a dancer? was I a partier? or a bookworm?
By the time I graduated undergrad, I knew a few things – I didn’t want to box myself in or cater to others’ perceptions of me anymore. I let my interests lead the way. I became a full-fledged scientist, dancer, and bookworm feminist. I gave up trying to blend in and took on more assertive roles. I spoke up on behalf of other women and left jobs if I was treated chauvinistically. I eventually found myself.
It’s amazing how far society has come in 20 years, but thinking about the time I wasted worrying about what men thought of me certainly makes me long for a redo. Nonetheless, I am happy to now share this story and advocate for others as they navigate finding true self. You are strong the way you are – be you!