I am no longer a “good girl”
CONTENT NOTE: DISCLOSURE OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
If you have joined bebo mia for classes or book club, then you have probably heard Bianca and I talk about being ‘reformed good girls’. We are both working on identifying the invisible expectations we held for ourselves and unlearning the ways we thought we had to perform them to move through the world.
I used to think of myself as being demeer, calm, and outwardly lacking an opinion. In fact, when I met my husband’s parents, I remember hoping they’d see that I’m empathetic, light, fun, and never get into heated discussions (if you know me IRL you can laugh at this if you like). I tried to just be “nice”, to subdue my competitive side and push down my strong opinions.
However, over the past decade that “good girl” facade has been chipped away by the work I’m committed to doing. I’ve been slowly but surely opening up to be a person who feels deeply, shares often and isn’t opposed to going against the grain.
So what constitutes a “good girl”?
I think that everyone’s opinion of what personal traits make a ‘good girl’ is different. It can be influenced by multiple factors including family, friends, culture, race, religion, class, sexuality and much more.
For me personally, being a “good girl” included the perfectly “thin” body; being well put together/perfectly “made up”; not questioning the status quo; never making people feel uncomfortable; and always being polite.
I think that being perceived as a ‘good girl’ when I was growing up helped me in some ways. I didn’t get into trouble at school; seldom fought with my parents; got good grades and was accepted into the university of my choice. But all of these perceptions were only on the surface.
This perception of a “good girl” didn’t serve me well
In several ways being a ‘good girl’ did not serve me well. It meant that I lied to my parents a lot; I hid experiences from people close to me and I stayed quiet about what I was feeling or going through. I would choose to struggle alone, rather than risk making someone else uncomfortable.
When I was in my last year of high school I was sexually assaulted and I didn’t tell my parents. I charged the man who assaulted me; went to the police station and filed a report; I met with victim services to give my statement and went to court, all without my parents knowing. I thought the experience would impact how people felt about me. At the time I thought it wasn’t something that happened to ‘good girls’ and I had no tools or coping skills to know how to deal with it. So rather than sharing it with my family, I decided the best thing to do was handle it on my own. I did eventually tell them, but not for several years later.
It makes me feel so sad looking back that I chose to navigate that experience without the support of my family rather than to risk my ‘good girl’ facade. How many other times did I abandon my own needs for the sake of not rocking the boat? There are probably hundreds of times, big and small, where the expectation to be good actually did more harm.
I know that I’m not alone. There are many people who don’t get help, reach out, or ask questions because they don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable or because they don’t think it’s appropriate. It’s absolute bullshit.
Being a “good girl” doesn’t seem to be helping us
I am not the authority on what is the right or wrong thing to do. I can only share what I’ve learned through my own experiences, and the experiences shared with me by others. In those instances, the general consensus seems to be that being a “good girl” isn’t helping us, but instead is doing the opposite.
Being a ‘good girl’ is keeping us quiet, lonely and disempowered. The expectations of being good keep us exhausted, and always trying to do or be better. It’s an ever moving target that keeps us stuck and frustrated. It’s an idea about who or what we should be, that we had absolutely no hand in defining. We never even have the chance to ask ourselves if it is something we want to do.
It’s scary stepping into your power
Stepping into my power has been the opposite of everything being a “good girl” represented. It’s been a difficult learning curve trying to figure out what I really want and what I think I’m “supposed” to do. Like learning to be honest about what I’m feeling. Not being afraid to stand up for myself and for my kids. Not shying away from difficult conversations, because having them can be life changing.
I’ve learned that I can do hard things, stand firm in my integrity and come out the other side, even when I didn’t think I could. I can be loud, and take up too much space. I can respect my own limits, and say no to things I don’t want to do; like joining the PTA. I am now clear and kind in my expectations and let the people around me know what I need. None of these things would be possible if I was still trying to be a “good girl”.
You don’t have to be a “good girl”
I didn’t set out to stop being a “good girl”. It has happened slowly and quietly. It started because I began noticing the ways that I was quietly abandoning myself in order to keep the peace. Overtime keeping up the perception of being a “good girl” didn’t feel worth the effort and time, and it wasn’t bringing me peace or joy; it kept me feeling alone.
Being a reformed “good girl” doesn’t have to happen all at one time. I am quite certain for me it will be a lifelong process. There are many areas that I am still navigating. But I have to say relinquishing the idea of being a ‘good girl’ has made me feel more confident, content and FREE than trying to keep up with it ever did.
Do you consider yourself to be a “good girl”? If so, how do you feel about it? Do you feel it has helped you? Feel free to comment below.
I am no longer a “good girl”
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