Ever since I was a child my “all or nothing” personality has been quite apparent. I would practice my violin 8 straight hours one day (much to the dismay of my parents) and then not touch it for a whole week. I would regularly dance 30 hours a week until my toes were bloody and infected blisters were common, but then I took 4 straight years off from dance. Anyone who has lived with me knows that my room gets messier and messier until one day I cannot take it anymore and completely overhaul the whole room and clean everything with a toothbrush. In fact, this past week, my car had its first experience with what I will now call “Molly Mania"...
This weird...no, we will go with “distinctive”... personality trait has gotten me quite a bit of flack throughout my time on this earth. Intensity has been my middle name my whole life and it never helped with my popularity. In fact, I have been somewhat of a social outcast in almost every situation I have found myself. I think everyone can relate with the fact that kids can be quite cruel, but forging my own path has left me with quite a few nicknames that I would not dare repeat in the written word. As a result I think I have spent 22 out of my 24 years of life extremely insecure about who I am. Just like everything in this universe, the downside of my personality has to have some sort of positive. The intensity that allowed me to obsess over my hydrogeology homework for 20 straight hours allowed me to become a better geologist. The flack I got from my college peers for not being your typical Division I athlete propelled me to want more out of my running. If I had given in every time a fellow athlete called me crazy, stupid, ugly...or worse, I would still be an 18:50 5k runner. Not giving in when times get tough is what separates the women from the girls.
The years between 7th grade and my sophomore year of college left me with huge doubts about whether my “be proud of who you are” mantra was correct. There were some dark, lonely years in there. Luckily, I have a mom and a “Max” (it’s the cooler form of a dad) that have been there my whole life with non-judgmental love and support...and a healthy dose of reality. I idolize my mom’s never ending compassion for others and I strive to be as intelligent and strong willed as Max. Without these positive influences, I would have cracked and given in to peer pressure long ago.
At a certain point though, you want to be surrounded by supportive people other than your parents. In the past two years I have met some feisty ladies...and I mean that in the best way possible. The best part about the women I have met is that they have shown me how common my life experiences have been. All strong women have to put up with a lot of flack. My former Michigan roommate is the hardest working PERSON I have ever met. She introduced me to another woman who regularly kicks butt and takes names in the automotive industry. Talk about giving men a run for their money! Out here in Boulder my teammates and training partners are extremely successful on the running scene, in the academic arena, and they top it all off with so much love and compassion...and, man, do they take a lot of crap because of it.
One of my best girlfriends and I decided that if a woman is smart, successful, attractive, and friendly...you are not left with many of the standard insults to call her, so people tend to go with unquantifiable words like “crazy” or “slutty.” Ironically, the men who tend to call my female companions these awful names are typically the men who have been rejected by them, are slower than them, make less money than them, have fewer academic accolades to their name..or a combination thereof. No matter how progressive our society has gotten, men who forge their own paths and are successful typically acquire names like “go-getter,” end up as CEOs, and are worshipped by men everywhere. Women who follow equal paths to the top almost inevitably end up with more ridicule, harsh critiques, and words like “go-getter” turn into words that attempt to insult their sexuality. It takes a truly remarkable woman to keep climbing when she has so many people and experiences trying to tear her down. That is why I am so darn proud of all the women in which I associate myself. They can keep calling us those bad names that we have heard since middle school...but we won’t hear them until they cross the finish line far after we do.