The other day I took my kids to breakfast at a local diner. It was my day off, so I was in my preferred comfort attire of Fabletics workout pants and a sweatshirt, my hair in a messy bun. As we were walking out, I couldn’t help but notice the sneer I received from a business-y looking woman, obviously there for a breakfast meeting.
Now I’m not a mind reader, so I can’t say for sure why she was throwing me some shade- maybe for not working on a Wednesday morning, maybe for appearing to be a stay at home mom, or maybe just because I was dressed sloppily. But whatever the reason for her look, there were about a hundred ways it could have made me feel- defensive, irritable, hurt, inferior, frumpy, sad or angry. It might have made me want to sneer back and say, “You don’t know me! I’m a physician, too, you know! This is just me enjoying my day off with my kids!”
But instead, I smiled politely (kill them with kindness, as my wise mother always says) and kept walking. And secretly, I actually felt proud. This lady doesn’t know the many different facets of my life. She doesn’t know how blessed I am to be a mom, a wife, a physician, an avid exerciser. She doesn’t know how exhilarating it is for me that people can’t know me just by looking at me. It makes me feel like I have a little secret in my back pocket, and that gives me strength, a protection against her judgment.
Because I’m proud of all the different roles that I play in my own life and my family’s, and I’ve decided to stop letting people try to take that away from me, to pick away at my confidence, or make me feel inferior.
This has not always been easy for me, as I have a history of letting other people’s opinions of me dictate my own. But it turns out this thought process is not super helpful, and often leads me to overthink everything, misinterpret people’s looks and texts, and even go against my gut because I assume other people know better.
I’m not sure what exactly has helped me become more comfortable with myself and my life choices. I think part of it, honestly, was realizing how much I was judging other women, often quite inaccurately.
Seeing confident, accomplished, successful and friendly women defy stereotypes has been very eye opening and helped me really broaden my view of what we women are capable of. As I have met other moms who love their stay-at-home life, or embrace their full time work schedule, or whatever they have in between, I’ve admired their ability to confidently stand behind their choice of how they want to live their life, and not care what other women (or men) think.
So I’ve been spending less time caring so damn much about what other people think about me and instead focusing on all the great parts of my life. I fully embrace the myriad identities I have to choose from, the flexibility and perspective they grant me, and most of all the fact that no one can know me just by looking at me. It also reminds me that most women I know have a lot more going on than meets the eye, and that is something I can truly appreciate.