Monday, November 2, 2009

I Don't Swagger

What stories define you?

I had a discussion last night with a former professor, and one of the things we talked about is how we shape our lives through story. If you've read the explanation of this website, you know that one of my defining stories is Too Pretty For This... but today I thought I'd share another.
I play putt-putt like I play baseball... and that is why the picture is relevant to this post.

I played in Little League growing up. Once I learned how, I loved softball and was actually pretty good. But one thing used to bother me -- if it was raining during a game, my mom sat in the car in the parking lot. The other moms huddled under umbrellas or hooded jackets and watched from the bleachers.

I asked my mom why she didn't want to watch me play, and she responded she did -- from the car. "You can't tell when I'm pitching or I'm to bat from there," I said. "You can't even see the number on my shirt."

"Sweetie, I don't need to see the number. I always know when you're playing and where. You walk differently than the other girls."

"Walk differently? How?" I tried to figure out if I had a lurching walk or some other quirk that made me monster-like.

"Well..." my mother hemmed, "If you were a boy, we'd call it a swagger."

"I walk like a BOY?" It was worse than I thought. I wasn't a monster -- I was a cootie-ridden boy.

"No, no, honey. If you were a boy, we'd call it a swagger, but you're a girl. So we call it a... sway."

"I don't swagger, I sway," I repeated.

For some reason this phrase has stuck with me. I've even been known in tired or silly moments to make people watch me walk -- yelling back to onlookers, "I don't swagger, I swaaaaaaay!"

Maybe I've made this story a part of who I am because it symbolizes a moment of reframing... where I could've been told or seen myself as a female failure. Instead, the situation was stated differently, and I was cast as a strong, feminine individual who stood out even in the rain and at a distance.

So tell me: what stories have shaped you? Share in the comments, or post on your own blog and let me know! I'm excited to hear from you.


Sara said...

I think that's brilliant.

That sounds like something my mom would've said to me (except I sucked at sports) and I absolutely would've taken that as a compliment.

I would love to have a "sway".

canamgirl said...

Hmm...I definitely have been one of the "onlookers" who you made "watch (you) walk" :p

Anonymous said...

Hiya...visiting from the SITS roll call:)
This is a great story. Surely we all have those moments, the ones that have left an impression and changed the way we think, don't we?
I know I do. About a gazillion. Or maybe a hundred:)So, I'll try to think of an important one and get back to you!
Take care!
BTW you are rockin' the putt-putt green!

Anonymous said...

I've definitely got my own bizarre sway to me as well.

Chris said...

Excellent story! I have always been self-confident. I credit my parents for raising me to be confident in who I am, to always believe in myself. My dad even jokingly says, "You may suffer from a slight excess of self-esteem, darling." And he's right. But when I was a teenage girl in high school, I needed to hear that. And some days, even now, I still do.

Deb said...

Awesome story (referred by Sara!). I'm sure I've got my own story, but will have to think about it for a bit. Glad I found your blog!

One Sassy Girl said...

Yes!! I can relate. I may sway too, or so I've been told.

Sophomore year in high school, walking down an empty hallway for a bathroom break and a rather voluptuous black girl hollered "Work those hips, white girl, work 'em" and I haven't stopped yet!

Best high school moment ever... aside from first kisses and the such, of course.