Though award shows don’t hold the same cache as they did in my childhood, this weekend is the Academy Awards. Fraught with politics and self-promotion, the awards have lost some of their shimmer. Yet, while growing up I wrote and rewrote my acceptance speeches. It was my fantasy of ultimate success. If I felt insignificant or hurt, my bright future would prove to the world I was somebody. My bullies would see I was special. That was my secret revenge.
I can tell you that the bullies probably don’t remember me, even though that cruelty is etched in every child who was ever bullied. Children who’ve been bullied often have a significant fantasy life. Mine, like a cliché, was a girl singing show tunes into my brush handle in front of the mirror. Thank goodness for my RCA portable record player. It got me through some rough school years.
Now, I’m ages away from those award-winning dreams. But I do find something meaningful in rewarding ourselves for the wins in our lives. And even if it’s not a public speech, acknowledging those who have been supportive are important to recognize, too. We enjoy celebrations during our milestones, like graduations and special birthdays. Perhaps we can find a way to receive an award when we go above and beyond, instituting courage to gain a win. It can be small. It’s simply a nod for our personal wins. We can get stickers, or a new kitchen utensil. Calling a friend and sharing in our happiness multiplies the joy. It gives us a chance to say we matter. And we do.
If you choose to watch Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall and Amy Schumer host this year’s Oscars, have fun. Perhaps enjoying the show can be a reward in itself. If I can stay up I will think of my younger self. Though now I have little interest in a red carpet, I’m simply satisfied to watch from my living room chair.
Write a list of what you’ve accomplished, big and small, this week. Draw a star or a symbol next to each to congratulate yourself for a job well-done.
Create a thank you speech for those who have been good to you over the years. If possible, send them the written speech so they can know they made a difference.
Don’t forget to put on some music and do a happy dance. If you want to do that in front of the mirror, go for it.
Some changes are easy. Changing my clothes after a walk on a hot day, changing my mind, when I go for a walk rather than a yoga class, easy. Changing my hair, not so much. I’ve sat in many salon chairs, tears in my eyes, feeling helpless while scissors cut away the vision I tried to communicate to the hairdresser. Conversely, I loved the artists who gave me so much more than I had hoped. But the last few years I’ve gone back and forth about going completely gray or continuing my once a month trek to my local salon, tediously covering my roots.
Like my dad, I went gray at an early age. Like my mom, this wasn’t something I wanted to share publicly. So by my mid-twenties I dyed my hair any number of shades of brown, auburn, chocolate, and other colors not easily found in nature. This past year I made the decision to stop dying my hair. I came to this decision partly because I don’t enjoy going to the salon, and mostly because I’m working on not doing things that aren’t pleasurable to me, if I can help it. Dying my hair fell into the category of something I could help.
silk jacket dyed green; hair dyed dark auburn.
At first it was uncomfortable to walk around with gray roots. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been because my hair is curly and I don’t usually part my hair. Nonetheless, it wasn’t the style that I wanted to sport. But I let it grow and grow, walking around as a two-toned woman. And then last week I cut it all off. I hadn’t imagined the freedom I’d experience. I feel unburdened. I can’t explain it, but I feel liberated. I cut away a part of my past and am embracing my present. I am fully gray and proud of it.