Throughout my life, I’ve dealt with the same amount of insecurities as the next person. As a little girl, I wanted nothing more than to be a little boy. When I finally started shopping in the boy’s section and cut my hair in the third grade, I wasn’t prepared for the attention. As a 9-year-old who didn’t want to be the center of attention, it wasn’t easy to be made fun, teased, or screamed at and pushed out of the girl’s bathroom. I very quickly went back to being a girl.
Me (pictured far right) with my family c.1997
I was never uncomfortable with my body or the way that I looked. I just knew that I wasn’t capable of being any girl that I had seen before. On TV, I saw badass boys living a life of curiosity and adventure while the girls wore cute sunflower bucket hats and shopped at the mall (this was the 90s). Why couldn’t I have a badass life of curiosity and adventure?
Years passed, and I learned to become the version of myself who got the least amount of attention. I shopped at the same stores with the popular girls and followed along to whatever my pushy friends wanted me to do. When I was 13, I decided to tell my good friend that I wasn't completely myself with her. I remember it so vividly, we were sitting in her bedroom, and I said “I think I want to be different from everyone else. I want to start dressing differently and look differently. I’m tired of being the same as everyone else.” I remember the look of confusion on her face as she asked, “Why would you want to do that?”. She stopped talking to me a week or so later when I started making a change.
Who am I? Has been a confusing question for me since that day in 2001 when I decided to be “different”. When I started trying to figure out who I was, I began searching for the other people who were different. And, just like that (queue Jesus rays): the internet. The internet had all kinds of people. People who were just as confused as I was and others who were like no one I had seen before. My world began to open as I gained access to my first-ever real friends: my internet friends.
These internet friends helped me to choose which college I attended. They were there when I had a question about units of measurement. When it came time to choose a career and begin a life as a freelancer, they got me my first gigs. They provided endless tips, facts, and areas of guidance when I didn’t know where else to turn. Throughout all of my side projects, many failed blogs, and small victories, they have (virtually) stood by my side. Most importantly, they provided a place for me to live a life of curiosity and adventure, just as I've always wanted.
It was my internet friends who helped shape the mold of what being a woman means today. Through projects such as Badass Lady Creatives, Got A Girl Crush and eventually huge media outlets like Broadly, I finally feel as though I’m amongst a world of fellow women who refuse to fit a mold. Let’s not forget all of the incredible men on the other side who have supported me through every step of the way. Gender isn’t black or white. There have been so many influential men in my life who have allowed me to feel valid, extraordinary and understand the importance of being a woman.
I’ve come to realize that we can’t compare ourselves to anyone else. We are all very different from everyone, and that’s what makes us unique. We can use this as an ability to help shape the public opinion of women, men, and every area in between. Being born a girl isn’t the curse that I once thought it was, and I can’t thank my internet friends enough for making me see that. I owe you everything and hope I can return the favor.