Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Stop Telling That Story

Close but not the exact scene..it'll do.

About 4 years ago I picked up one of my favorite quotes ever from little film called The Women, 2008 not the one with Joan Crawford. In it, Meg Ryan's character goes to Saks for a manicure where a chatty nail tech unknowingly gives Meg the goods on her cheating husband. Just as the chatty nail girl, played by Debie Mazar, realizes she is putting her foot squarely in her mouth Meg Ryan drops this line "please stop telling that story." (or something to that effect) While I drop this line at least once a week, today it has a special meaning because not only has this message come up several times today but I have realized that no matter how much I tell it to others, I need to start talking to the woman in the mirror.

You see we all have stories that we tell ourselves over and over that do not serve us. The stories range from "My grandmother got a divorce, my mom got a divorce, I'm going to be divorced" and "I have to have a certain job to be an adult" to "Money is the root of all evil." No matter what sob story you tell yourself and everyone else, I guarantee that it is not helping you in any way. Those Color Purple--as my mom calls them--stories do nothing but ensure that you constantly stay in a woe-is-me state, since we all know the thoughts you repeat become your beliefs and eventually create your reality. So by telling yourself that "Money is the root of all evil" ensures that you will never have any money unless you want to be evil. Not only does repeating those stories that do not serve you drag you down but tehy also drag down everyone you tell them to.

Don't be that girl...not cute.

Everyone knows a Debbie Downer, no matter how awesome your day is she manages to piss all over it with one story. Now imagine that your co-workers are chilling by the water cooler talking about life and such then you walk in and start telling them about how horrible your last date was and launch into your story "All men are losers and I'll never find a good one." If I were your co-worker I'd walk away and never talk to you again, unless it was absolutely necessary. For the record, not only does repeating your story drill it in to every cell in your body but it also makes people want to avoid you like the plague.  No one wants to hear those sad stories and the people that are tasked with listening--your friends and family--aren't buying that poison you're spitting.

Like I said from the beginning, I know all too well about the need to stop telling that story like a broken record. The things I tell myself are off the charts, Britney Spears when she shaved her head crazy but I have told myself those stories for so long that it is taking therapy, self-help books, life coaching and meditation. Brick by brick I have been outting the stories I need to stop telling and guess what? The minute I become aware of one story another one bubbles up, letting me know that I'll be telling myself stories for the rest of my life hopefully they'll get better.

So in the effort of being transparent, here are the stories I need to stop telling:

"Carrie Bradshaw had to have been a hooker because writers don't make that much money" Truthfully, Carrie Bradshaw is a fictional character so her life has to be over the top so we buy into it enough to buy the movie, the DVDs and the books. TV is not real life nor is it an accurate mirror of real life, even the "reality" shows and that HBO's updated hipster version of Sex and the City, Girls, are far from real. That said, it is reasonable to think that an established columnist in her mid-30s could be making an adequate living off of her work. As an aspiring best selling author who writes a ton online and is tackling print one article at a time, it is counterproductive for me to repeat that you can't make money as a writer especially when I know at least one real life freelance who does. (FYI she is at least 10-15 years older than I am with an extra 10-15 years experience on me so I shouldn't be making her money...yet.)

"I'm weird so it's hard for me to find a guy" To be fair I am pretty "different," however the main reason people see me as "different" is because I do not entirely fit the singular story that has been told about African American women. Is it my fault that only one story has been told about black women in America throughout history? No. Is it my fault that people believe that one story? No. Is it my fault that people see me and immediately try to cram me into that one story? No, but it is my fault that I allow their issue with who I should be make me feel inadequate. Growing up I was teased because Jagged Little Pill was my favorite album and California English was my preferred method of speaking-- hello I grew up in the 90s on a strict media diet of MTV, Seventeen and Clueless and like everyone else in my generation I added like to every pause and made every statement a question. Again, not my problem until I made my problem.

"I need new clothes every season." Actually that's not a story I tell myself that's just life, you need new clothes, especially when you work in fashion.

"Money is a struggle. If you don't work hard you'll never make bank." This isn't a story I told myself, it's a story I saw growing up. My dad constantly spoke of sacrificing time at home so that we could have a certain standard of living and my mom constantly fought an uphill battle with finances, so I learned that money was something you had to bust your ass to get....NOT TRUE. Yes you have to work but earning a living does not have to be a thing of sacrifice, toil, struggle, working three jobs just to get by. That is not necessary, trust me I know people who work hard, enjoy their life and make what they need and then some...and their parents aren't filthy rich.

Those are all the stories I could think of now, but if I think of any more I'll share for sure. More importantly, I want to know what BS, I had to walk 10 miles in the pouring rain, sob story are you telling?

Drop your story like it's hot!

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