The Good Girl. That oh-so elusive Good Girl.
The Good Girl is considerate, kind, understanding, a good listener, a go-to friend, a shoulder to cry on, never not has a smile on her face, always follows through with plans, completely selfless, and has no conflict EVER!
And most of all, the “Good Girl” convinces you that everyone is supposed to like you.
Here’s a secret though.
The Good Girl lies. She lies her ass off.
She lies because the hard truth is that you can’t please everybody, no matter how hard you try. If you continue to strive towards this unreachable goal, you will only exhaust and disappoint yourself.
It’s a lesson that didn’t sink in with me for a long time. I used to be so afraid that even having one person not like me, or showing a crack in my perfectly composed armor, made me a horrible person. It made believe I was a failure. For so long, I thought that the only solution to not feel this way would be if I worked towards being the Good Girl 24/7.
Ever since I was young, I’ve felt like I’ve had a Good Girl reputation to live up to. In kindergarten, I was the nice girl. The polite girl. I had full gold stars on the classroom chore wall, for goodness sake!
Here is the earliest memory of my battle with my inner Good Girl: One day in first grade, we had a supply teacher. I guess I was feeling particularly rambunctious that day because I decided to partake in a couple of no-no classroom activities, such as talking to my desk buddy during class, throwing a ball around during free hour, and passing notes in class. Luck was not on my side that day, as the supply teacher caught me doing these forbidden activities. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
As a result, at the end of the day, I was handed a note to be given to my parents about my bad behavior. This left my classmates surprised and shocked. “What did SHE do?” one of them asked, exasperated.
I was so embarrassed. I hated this teacher for ruining my Good Girl reputation.
I hung onto my inner Good Girl long into my high school life. It provided me with comfort and familiarity. I was kind and gentle and sweet. That’s just who I was and who I wanted to stay.
It also put me in a box, a box I felt like I had to lock myself into. I desperately wanted to be liked by everybody, so much so that I silenced my own drum and beat to my inner Good Girl, afraid to make a single social mistake. This intense desire comprised my character and deterred me from considering my own thoughts and emotions. This created pent-up emotions in friendships, frustrations in relationships, and discouragement in myself.
This equation didn’t work for long. The pressure to be perfect sent me spiraling daily. I was never happy with where I was with myself — I always thought I had to be more. I couldn’t celebrate how far I had come because it never felt like enough, unless people told me it was enough.
And then, one day, amid the frustrations and breakdowns, I had a clicking moment where I suddenly wondered what I was actually working towards by chasing after the Good Girl. I started to see how following this mindset was really hurting me and not helping me, despite what I had convinced myself for so long.
I realized that listening to myself and making mistakes had a bigger payoff than constantly reaching for fabricated goodness.
I no longer wanted to be angry at myself for not meeting unrealistic expectations. I decided that I wanted more depth to my character than just being the Good Girl.
When this change in my mindset began, I started to find a love and appreciation for everything I really brought to the table.
Don’t get me wrong! I see all of the wonderful qualities the Good Girl strives towards, and I admire and envy those who can be “on” more than they are not – but that is not me.
I strive to be a good person. I learn more about myself every day, and how I can work towards being a more positive and kind woman. I still slip up though, because I’m still figuring her out.
And that’s completely and utterly human.
But what I’ve learned is that if we stay in our Good Girl boxes, we will never change, and we will never discover who we could be or what we are capable of achieving.
Sometimes you need to be selfish and make choices that are good for you. Sometimes it’s okay to take a risk, and maybe even get a note sent home at the end of the day. Sometimes you need to have off days. Sometimes you need to make the choice that disappoints other people in order to make an investment in yourself.
I am kind and gentle and sweet. I am also strong, outspoken, curious, adventurous, clumsy, ridiculous, and human.
I am no longer going to chase the Good Girl. I’m ready to chase myself.