In elementary school I knew the girl colors were pink and purple. So my favorite color was blue. I actually didn’t much care for the color red for years because it seemed too close to pink.
I tend to balk at strictly defined “girly” traits. Which was how I found myself boldly dissecting a squid and a grasshopper in middle school. Head pops off? No big deal.
When I’m joking around with guys it’s usually me who pushes things to the “too far” line because I need to be grosser than them…because that’s “winning”…somehow.
Despite these dubious achievements, I am aware that I’m hopelessly stereotypically “female” in certain weaknesses. Most specifically in the arena of gaming. I never played video games as a kid and even now as an adult I can’t drive a Mario kart worth a damn or maneuver the buttons to successfully…what? Eat the magic mushrooms in the Princess Peach palace run by the giant gorilla man? I have no idea what the point of that game is.
I didn’t much care about this personal failing. Until.
A friend invited me — for funsies — to try out a helicopter simulator. This was something at his disposal to offer, apparently. I immediately said “no, thank you” and it wasn’t necessarily because I didn’t want to.
No, my first thought was self-preservation. I don’t try things out in any realm of the public sphere if I’m fairly confident I’m going to show my incompetence clearly. Times that by 100 when it comes to failing in a very obvious “female” capacity.
“Of course a girl crashes the helicopter simulator. Women can’t drive!” or whatever hypothetical insult you want to put in this scenario. And I would have no response. Just flustered stammering and probably a great deal of sweating. (It’s great that displaying my insecurities brings on added moisture. Is it a self defense mechanism? Am I supposed to “slip away”?)
So I said “no”. And truth be told, I also hate flying and things that feel like flying. I hate roller coasters. I hate being in the passenger seat of a car. I hate the thought of fake killing myself in a simulator. But I still feel a bit crappy passing on this adventure.
And it makes me think about all the other adventures I’ve missed because I didn’t want to give a black-mark to all women through my own incompetence. And all the humorous stories I missed out on had I dared to brave that which I was unqualified for.
Don’t we all know the best stories come from the most uncomfortable moments?
But I think this is true: I think sometimes men are just as scared to expose “girly” weakness as we are, and the only way to show that it’s okay to be weak is to display weakness with confidence and openness. And a good deal of good humored laughter at yourself. Let’s be honest, If you can’t laugh at you, you’ve lost your greatest source of amusement.