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Beauty doesn't have to be "ladylike"

As a child, sometimes I stood out because I was assertive and outspoken, especially with adults. I also cared more about climbing trees and trading baseball cards than I did about playing with dolls, and don't even start the conversation about putting me in a dress. (I much-preferred my older brother's hand-me-downs.) I often heard from different adults in my life that I should have acted or looked more "ladylike." I confess I've caught myself saying the same thing to my own daughter, particularly if she sits at the dinner table a certain way. But I digress ...

I think because I was also headstrong, inquisitive and retaliatory, part of me enjoyed not measuring up to standards that didn't make sense to me. I am really glad that, while there were situations in which I was forced to learn certain manners and behaviors, I wasn't asked to change who I was. Today, my unintimidated nature is proving valuable for both publishing my manuscript and working towards my racing license.

In the past two weeks, promising developments have coalesced seemingly out of nowhere (from God). I don't want to count my chickens before my eggs hatch, but I've promised to use this blog to update all (twelve) of you about the manuscript. Suffice it to say that the path forward will be revealed in the next few weeks. It feels amazing to have a plan unfolding before my eyes for which God gets all the glory because I couldn't have orchestrated it. What I have done is kept searching for a way. Because I am assertive and unrelenting, doors are opening.

Perhaps one of the reasons I love driving at the track so much is that it rewards my super competitive, never give in spirit. In order to advance through the ranks of high performance driver education (HPDE), one must have "check rides" with instructors who can sign off students to the next level. On Friday, as I pulled back into the pit after a check ride to move into the advanced group, I asked my instructor, Brian, for feedback.

"I think you need to be more aggressive," he said.

"Really? MORE aggressive?" I asked with disbelief. He smirked, and I realized that *of course* he was joking. He had spent nearly 30 minutes listening to me whine impatiently about other drivers not giving me passes, and had walked me through race techniques to very clearly show the driver in front of me that I was faster and he needed to let me by him.

Aggression can be overbearing, squelching and hurtful if used as a method of steamrolling or overpowering. The problems with forceful initiative and self-assertiveness can be the ego behind them, self-absorption, and inflexibility, to name a few. I've gotten myself into trouble and hurt people I care about with my overzealous "rightness."

But on the flip side, the very parts of my personality that can be off-putting can also be beneficial and, dare I say, beautiful. In a competitive sport that requires risk-taking and fear-quashing in order to improve, a combative readiness is arguably necessary. And the fact that I'm relentless and tenacious can only help me in getting the message of my book out there: I want to help girls see themselves for the beautiful and worthy creations they truly are — whether or not they are ladylike.


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