The Danes are my people. Ok, fine. I’m really only ¼ Danish, but it is a crucial, self-defining quarter of my snappy little genetic make-up. I ended up in Copenhagen for a semester abroad in college mostly because there was a psych program that seemed super neat, I’d never been there before, and the Danes are freaking English speaking rock stars. Me and foreign languages get along about just as well as me and any sport that involves a game and a ball. But anyways, all of my eccentricities that I thought were unique – not so unique – so very Danish. Example: I have an unnatural propensity to follow rules. Danes: if there is a “No Walking” sign blinking at four in the morning and there are no cars in sight – yep a group of Danes will be patiently waiting for the sign to change. I also discovered the source of my non-neutral, oh I so hate you face, when I made the mistake of crossing a street during such a no crossing sign – Danes will stare you down like it is their job, and apparently this same stare is also how I dissuade any creeper from getting all up in my business on the dance floor. Handy. Thanks Danes.
Being ostentatious – also a serious Danish no-go. Which is sort of ironic since one of my favorite memories is of a 60+ year old woman walking down the street wearing fabulously bright, purple leggings. Bet let me clarify – blaring funkiness: totally supported. Being a jerk about what you have: not so much. While I most definitely have an unnatural love of brightly colored leggings, this distinction is where the Dane in me gets confounded or confused by the combo of the other ¾ of me. Or rather, I have a hard time drawing the line between being ostentatious and audacious. One reason why I’ve always kept my hair simple before now is that I’m uncomfortable with the idea of any of my physical features being blatantly obvious, or more specifically, being obvious about deliberately being made obvious. I like to sort of sneak up on people. Acknowledged: totally sound like a weirdo right now. But really, I would rather people be surprised by my snarky, F-word-saying, pink-pant-wearing-self once they crack my charmingly shy exterior, then be like, “Crazy woman!” right from the onset. Where’s the fun in that? The element of surprise is crucial, right?
Relevant tangent: last week I had a day where I totally lost control. I felt like I was back in high school. I looked down at my body, and suddenly I didn’t like what I saw. I felt big with every piece of my self. I knew deep down that my body hadn’t changed since 24 hours prior when I had felt like a barbell lifting superstar, but no matter how much I theoretically knew that fact in my head, I couldn’t change that acutely physical sensation of feeling too big. I haven’t felt like that in a long time, but I used to feel that way every day. Every single day in high school I would fight with myself about what I should eat, how much I should work out, and why my body wasn’t good enough. Food became my vehicle for control. By controlling it I felt powerful – I felt in control of my demons. That reaction was, of course, only giving into those demons. Over time though, through the discovery that I can obtain sustainable, productive power from rowing, then from teaching, and most recently from crossfit, the need to control food has fallen away. But not last week. My first reaction to feeling too big was that I needed to go lift something heavy – that I needed to regain my sense of control by doing something. And that’s when I realized transference will kick you in the pants. If I’m not careful, I will replace food with barbells. If I can’t lay a solid enough foundation of my own strength to keep me grounded when life goes awry without drawing from an external source, well, frankly: I’m a little fucked.
Last week I was super grumpy at my haircut for not instantaneously generating tangible life changes. Six plus inches less of hair should procure a glorious stretch of astounding self-confidence and serious ass-kicking. Geeze hair, get your business in order. But, post my mind deciding to temporarily turn against me and revert me back to my 16 year old self (oh thanks mind, you shouldn’t have…) I realized that my Danish, pink-pant-wearing, long-hair-cutting-self was working in sneaky ways. I was, I am fashioning myself into my own context of power. Now, I can look in the mirror and be reminded that the girl that chopped of her hair is tougher than she feels at any low point. I can draw back into myself for strength instead of needing to project away from myself.
I am a huge proponent of finding a space in which you feel powerful, but at some point that place needs to be in yourself. If we rely continuously and solely on outside sources to validate our own power (the gym, our partner, our food choices,) then the subsequent strength we create will not be strong enough to withstand a serious blow (aka the shock of my life not turning instantaneously into sheer awesome at one drastic change.) That doesn’t mean that we need to be the sole proprietors of our own strength – risky and isolating for reals – but we need to play a major part in that experience.
In being inconspicuous, in wanting my own strength to be decidedly sneaky instead of humbly yet charmingly present, what I’ve realized is that I’ve been depending primarily on my physical actions to speak for my self. Of Course, you want your actions to reflect your self, but you also want to be your self, and to not rely solely on how you act to express who you are, but instead on how you are, how you feel about yourself to project who you are. We need to redirect the relationship between our actions and our self – letting the self propel our actions and not the other way around. My new goal: dive into audacity (and to get a top that goes with my snappy pink pants so that I can wear them like it’s my freaking job.)