I never wanted to be a princess.
Back in the day I never wanted a fairytale dress… but these days I’d wear the HELL outta that one though. Because I know you can be both badass AND a butterfly. (Image by Michael Michaeletti)
I’ve always wanted to be tough, as far back as I can remember. “Me tough toddler with Shirley Temple curls. You no laugh!” When I was 11 I used to check out books from the library about martial arts, and train in my room- push myself and my endurance. (NERD.) When I finally joined a karate class I quit the first one because it wasn’t real enough for my taste. Sparring just for points? Bah! What good is that?! I joined a full contact class. I wanted to learn how to throw a punch and take one. I was 12. I was obsessed with it- and I don’t say that lightly. When I was grounded I was not allowed to go to karate- so I ran quite a straight and narrow path through my teenage years. (Stupid parents finding perfect motivation for good behavior. Grumble, grumble.) Weird to think karate kept me from drugs and sex and bad influences and smoking. But it did. I never wanted to be a ninja. I wanted to be a warrior. I’d like to think I got there. (I almost got kicked out for excessive force at every tournament I ever entered. I’d be an asshole if I was proud of that. I’m an asshole.)
Pride in that tough aspect of myself was the road back to a healthy self esteem (13-16 sucks when you’re a teenage girl, turns out). It’s still tied up in my body image and self esteem today. I’ve never wanted bigger boobs or smaller feet. I have wanted to get stronger when I’m feeling soft though. Being strong is more important than being thin. Though I dig that too, don’t let me fool ya. I just want to be strong and thin is all. None of that willowy crap for me.
I’ve been wondering why lately. Why did I want to be a warrior, a fighter, so badly? It seems like such an odd thing now. Did I want power and that’s what my young mind associated it with? Did I feel powerless at some point?
Power IS handy. (Image by John Trusler)
I did almost get in a fight once- some girls jumped me and 2 of my friends because one of my friends was going out with one of their ex-boyfriends. (Oh 6th grade- you so crazy! Also, why the hell are y’all mad at me in this scenario?!) I talked my way out of that one by cracking a joke- turns out that’s more than an adequate defense mechanism.(I filed that info away for future use, too) I never got in another fight because I had nothing I was out to prove at that point. I don’t think it was a response to powerlessness in that circle of pissed off cholas that did it though… I’d wanted to be in martial arts long before that. Wanted to be tough before that. I DO think that was the thing that finally made me sign up for a class though.
I’ve always been a bit contrary, so maybe that’s where it comes from. I was raised by a hippy- so being tough and militaristic and tomboyish went against the familial grain. (as did the no drugs thing) But I don’t think thats it- or hell! maybe it is! My 6 year old tells me she doesn’t want to be different. And my response is “That’s so weird! Why would you ever want to be like everybody else?” I never wanted to be like anybody else, so that’s an odd one to try to handle and empathize with for me as a parent. But I try.
I told very, VERY few people I was in karate when I was in middle school and high school. And after. Mostly because “I know karate!” is just about the most pathetic things you could ever possibly say. I bring it up just because I now think… huh. That’s actually kinda weird. Why did my younger self cleave to that? I wonder mostly because my oldest daughter is just about the same age as I was back then. I remember being that age and being so strongly drawn to something… so, will she? What will it be for her? For her sisters?
I never did want to be a princess. I wanted to be a fighter. And I did actually get there. Now, I wanted to be an astronaut and live in Japan too. But well… 1 out of 3 childhood dreams ain’t bad. And at least I accomplished the most useful one, you know?