When I was a kid, a girl was either pretty but stupid, or smart but not-so-attractive. While there is absolutely no truth in that, it was believed by the masses and thus, “true.” I was undeniably pretty; so, by such standards, undeniably stupid. I didn’t feel stupid. Not all at once. But the truth of the masses, perpetuated by the practices of elementary and middle school*, wore me down. By high school, I was a bonafide ditz. Or so I thought.
*Rarely called on in class or praised for right answers, encouraged to take classes like steno and typing rather than science or math. Etc. Those of you in my age-range will know the drill.
It took a huge amount of work to get past all the crap ingrained in me from the day I was born–and this is not a dig against my parents, but society at large. Women of a certain age and older, maybe a little younger, will understand. Some will never get away from the whole “girls aren’t as smart as boys” thing, and all the other stuff girls were or weren’t. I worked hard, and I did it, but it left scars. One of them is being a huge skeptic.
There. I said it. I’m a skeptic. I realize I present as the sort of whimsical being who believes in fairies and ghosts and magic and all kinds of psychic/superhero powers.
But I do.
Because I am a whimsical being. There is magic/ghosts in everything I write. Tooth fairies lived in my rose garden. All the neighborhood kids knew that. We left bread and butter out for the fae folk at key points in the year, read the story of Persephone, Demeter and Hades every autumnal equinox, decorated the trees for the animals at the winter solstice. The kids were taught to never step inside a fairy ring. I made herbal “potions” everyone swore by, and spoke charms while I crafted them. The kids and I made dream pillows every autumn (something I still do, though more sporadically, with my grandkids.)
But I also knew it was the crows eating the bread and butter (the crows in the neighborhood loved me. It’s true! I fed them daily, and ours was the ONLY garbage can on the block that never got torn apart.) I don’t believe in Gods, or Goddesses. I do believe there are some plusses to herbal healing, but the spoken charms were fun wishes akin to those made on birthday candles. And the tooth fairies? Well, I confess now to all those children who left notes for their fairies in my rose garden, I was the one answering them; tooth fairies did not, in fact, live in my garden.
But I don’t NOT believe in any of it, either. Because…who knows?
Round and round she goes. The skeptic comes from never-ever-ever again wanting to feel or appear stupid. I spent too many years negating my own talents, thoughts, and aspirations. Skeptic has a place in my brainspace, because there’s believing in everything with blind faith and utter devotion, and there’s, “Now wait just a minute there, Janet.”
There is a whole lot about our world, our universe we just don’t know; modesty may be for suckers, but no one can ever accuse me of hubris. I discount nothing, not even fairies. I just need proof before I’ll truly believe they’re real. I know where my skeptic was born, and as much as I understand she’s yet another aspect of the scarring done to my little psyche, (and my not-so-little one) her place is to be respected.
I can be whimsically skeptical, or skeptically whimsical. I can take part in a cleansing, burning ritual on the beach and feel the beauty, the bonding without the need of specific oils and herbs. I can watch my words go up in smoke, and know it’s speaking them aloud that eased the burden, not burning them. I love to read cards (I have several decks) because of how it makes me think, it creates connections I might not otherwise have noticed. I enjoy listening to a psychic tell me all about auras and chakras and speaking to the dead while picking out the holes in her reasoning. I can dream of my son and feel it was more like visit; feel it, but not know it, because what happens after we die is a mystery no one, not even those who’ve died and come back, knows for sure. And I’m okay with that. I like how those dream visits sit in my heart, in my brain. That’s enough. I like imagining it’s fairies eating the bread and butter, even if I know it’s the crows. I like paying attention. To everything.
What I believe or don’t believe doesn’t matter even slightly where the actual truth is concerned. I believed I was stupid. Society saw my pretty and believed the same. But you know what? My mom saved my report cards, and she gave them to me a few years ago. I was mostly an A/B student all through high school. I spoke four languages. It was confidence I lacked, not intelligence. Though, I do admit math was never my strong suit; I was also never encouraged to it, so…yeah. I get a pass.
There you have it. I’m a skeptic who writes about ghosts but doesn’t necessarily believe in an afterlife. Now, pardon me while I go write my story about how Death collects souls in a mason jar. In my pajamas. Where’d I put that tiara? I guess the fairies must have run off with it. They do that, sometimes.
12 responses to “The dichotomy of being a Bogwitch”
The smart/pretty thing immediately brought Hedy Lamar to mind.
For me, even if there aren’t fae folk, the crows eating stuff is still pretty awesome!
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No crows here in this house, but squirrels! They thank me by pooping on my deck. It’s awesome.
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When I entered my professional life as an HR Manager for a Fortune 50 company over 30 years ago, I recognized exactly what you are saying about attractive women. They could be administrative assistants, but not much more. That lead me to start asking them questions about their education, short and long term plans, goals, etc…….
Then I started mentoring them – making sure they understood their looks were absolutely not going to break up my marriage! I brought them through the ranks. I once had a team of six females that recruited for people to load trucks at my company at local colleges, universities, and state employment offices. Two of them were former waitresses at Hooters. One of them was a former cheerleader for a NFL team. Guess who attracted the best applicants? That team of women had their laughs at what I had done, but if it works it works! Every one of them went on to be successful.
I can now say some 30 years later that many of the females I mentored through the years are now very successful businesswomen – many of them are the breadwinners in their homes. They stay in touch now that I’m retired. They still ask for advice. They send other young females to me for advice. They still appreciate what I recognized in them before they thought it was possible.
Yes – I’m proud of that.
Beating the system at its own game, eh? 😉
Love this, and you.
Right back at you, my sweet!
Sounds a bit like my optimistic cynic/cynical optimist’ persona!
I was a skinny, silent child with my ‘pretty’ hidden. I never felt pretty; I never felt smart either, even though I was. It was overlooked & pretty (lol!) much ignored. Took me a long time to find my voice. I’ve made up for it since mind & now I’m older & wiser I *know* I’m smart. I’ve worn well – witches* do! 😉
*I don’t believe in Gods or Goddesses either. I like the idea of Goddess as a metaphor for the land, which I do believe in!
No surprise we are kindred in this, my dear. None at all. As well as Goddess as a metaphor for the land, which I ALSO believe in. ❤
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I’ll never forget reading an article with a high level female professional who said that she would routinely get applications for jobs from men who were woefully unqualified. But when she actually sought out qualified women and ASKED them to apply they would often respond, “well, I’m lacking in one area.” Fortunately, some of us found our way around that. Kinda on the same lines as pretty vs. smart.
Also, if you weren’t a skeptic, I would find you – and your stories – unbelievable. I’d think you were like Miss Lippy from Billy Madison. The skepticism makes the other worldly believable in people like you because I know you’re grounded and reasonable. I BELIEVE that Chris left the light on in the room because you said it was so and YOU think it.
I love that, Bea. I feel the same way, actually. Whimsy with absolutely no skepticism is just a lot of flibberty-gibbet. I find blind faith in ANYTHING pretty annoying, for the most part. But, to each one’s own.
So much of me believes all the signs and symbols left by Chris. It makes me happy to believe them, even if a voice in my head tells me not to be ridiculous. I can, and do, tell it to shut the fuck up.
This is a wonderful post, Terri. I’m sorry you grew up feeling you couldn’t be both smart and beautiful. I’m not sure if that’s where your skepticism comes from, though, because I believe all intelligent people are also healthy skeptics – that the mark of intelligence is the recognition there is nothing certain in life and that there’s always a chance, however small, that even things we believe deeply to be true might be false. Many hugs to you and thank you for another lovely reflection!
I do believe a healthy dose of skepticism is necessary for intelligence. Whenever we stop questioning, we’re goners.
Thank you, sweet sister!
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