This past week I attended a branded event for a food company releasing its new condiment that you can put on an assorted variety of vegetables (vagueness intended). The event advertised a free yoga class and meditation. The theme:
You are a goddess.
I was there for the yoga and the free food (Free food is my jam. Or is it my bread?).
During the yoga class, as I struggled and sweated my way through triangle pose, warrior II and downward facing dog (sometimes while staring directly at wall art that read “You are a goddess”), I didn’t feel particularly divine.
I’ve been trying to do this thing where I’m honest with myself about what I want—not what I should want, not what I pretend to want, but what I really, genuinely want. This is a lot harder than it might seem.
If you start wanting things, you might also start not getting them. It’s tricksy.
Usually, I only find out I want something because I’m lying on the grass using my hat to cover my face as my tears run into my sunscreen and sting my eyes, trying to cry in public in peace and tranquility like a normal person.
[Yes, when I don’t get what I want, I cry like a four year old who wanted to meet Mickey Mouse but got Donald Duck instead.]
So let’s talk about things that I’m not supposed to want, let’s see, money, beauty, fame, success, power, love—did I miss anything.
Why though? I know that being grateful for what you have is good, and I was constantly told I was ungrateful by a parent who never seemed to be able to go into detail about how I might be more grateful, at least in a way that would make him feel like I was grateful enough—
But still, isn’t this the culture where wanting it all is precisely the point?
So there I was, grunting and sweating my way through a goddess flow, not exactly feeling myself but definitely feeling a bit shaky and lightheaded from all the physical exertion.
After the yoga class, we hit the bar for some vegan fare showcasing the new condiment. It tasted very healthy.
I met another woman who was honestly hashtag friend goals (Help! I’m an introvert and I don’t know how to make friends without being creepy). I mentioned that I really wanted one of the cropped hoodies that they had on display and wondered out loud how to get one.
She went over and asked some of the organizers how to get a hoodie and reported back in whispered tones that they were on sale for $25 but she thinks another girl just walked away with one because she didn’t know (like I said, friend goals).
At home later, I checked out the brand’s Instagram account and they had reposted an Instagram influencer’s story of attending the event that ended with a photo of her wearing the sweatshirt that read, “Thanks for the cute sweatshirt @brandnameredacted!”
Instantly, I felt a hot rush of—what’s a word for if shame, anger, jealousy and disgust had a super ugly baby?
I felt grossed out by the corporate hypocrisy, sure, but there was this even deeper sense of my own unworthiness:
I am a goddess—but not divine enough to merit free swag.
I am a goddess—but a lesser one, not as worthy of worship as the 22 year-old with better abs and 14.5K followers on Instagram.
I am a goddess—but let’s be real, there’s still a hierarchy of value in which I miiiiiiight squeak in at 46th place, if I’m lucky. I’m not hot enough, not pretty enough, not fit enough or attractive enough or young enough.
But I think the question goes deeper than whether I’m influencer enough or whether I have abs (I don’t)—it’s a question of how our culture chooses to value women by unattainable standards of beauty and youth, all while touting equally unattainable standards of boundless, infinite self-love, that, not coincidentally, will help us to achieve our wildest dreams!
It’s all so easy if you just believe. We’re allowed to want everything and nothing at the same time. And let’s not even talk about the taboo of wanting what another woman has.
God forbid I want anything at all. The best that I can do is be happy with the little joy I’ve managed to eke out in the present. And I’m really, really good at living with less.
One of my friends once said, “When I stop having a dream, it’s really hard to feel hope.” And without hope it’s really, really hard to do anything at all.
What do you want? No what do you really want? What’s the stupidest, dumbest, most shameful or shallow thing that you can bring yourself to admit that want?
Fuck being a goddess. Be a messy, emotional wreck of a person who wants things.