“What does she look like?”
“Thin. Pretty. Big tits. Your basic nightmare”
–When Harry Met Sally
I was walking home from a conference the other night. I was stopped at a streetcorner (contrary to popular belief, there are intersections where New Yorkers cannot jaywalk), and I overheard two women talking about a third woman; dissecting the third’s outfit/coat and choice of handbag.
It took me a moment of overhearing a discussion of what sounded like oddly familiar items before I realised that they were two strangers talking about me; the only other woman on that corner. They diagnosed me as having a case of a sale rack, off-brand, trying-too-hard coat, and toting a Basic Bitch Bag. They pushed past me as the light changed – two sylphs; probably sisters, possibly twins; clad in tight jeans and weather-inappropriate, cropped biker jackets. One of them looked back at me and I openly chuckled at her, smiling broadly. A worried look flickered almost imperceptibly across the girl’s face, and then she scurried towards the subway.
A few years ago, I might have been quietly devastated by this encounter; I might have second-guessed what I was wearing and carrying. Now, I find this sort of thing…hilarious.
Yes – my puffy coat is ugly, but it’s warm. And the bag I was carrying IS basic. Every other woman in New York and possibly also Los Angeles owns it (I consciously had mine monogrammed not because I am One of Those Basic Bitches* Who Monograms Stuff, but so I could tell it apart from other women’s at the gym).
*(Can someone please explain “Basic Bitch” to me? Is this where you get insulted for being not on-trend by being TOO on-trend?)
Real talk, though, that bag is the best bag I’ve ever owned. I feel like Goldilocks every time I pack it in the morning for work. I understand why women buy it – it’s perfect.
I think the problem is sometimes we worry so much about carrying around the burden of our own happiness. Like we’re afraid of enjoying the things that make us happy because heaven forbid, they’re ordinary. Maybe this is more a problem for women than for men, but I am certain than men have this same problem too. I think we are reluctant to stand up and state Hey, Guys, this thing I have is A-OK! I am practicing my own happiness right here – do you want in?!
I think that reluctance makes our egos fragile.
Happiness is not static or steady state; nor is it a “choice,” per se. I think it’s more of a practice, like mindfulness, or yoga, or law, or Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, or pick-your-poison. You have to choose to be it, and then you have to flex it, and share it in order for it to actually become your status quo. For instance, you can say I am a lawyer, or I am a yogini but you have to put that choice into practice for that to fully be true.
Here is the truth:
It took me a long time to be happy – a long time of being ashamed of buying things on sale, and wondering if I should openly flaunt or hide the fact that I had finally discovered the joy of owning the bag that Everyone Else Has (hint: everyone else has it because it is Literally Perfect). It took me nearly forever to figure out that I would be loved whether or not I ran a fast or slow marathon, or whether I had adult acne. And it wasn’t like it came naturally – it was like a long, slow practice. Flexing; easing into it; gradually getting comfortable with the idea that it was okay to be Okay.
So…sweet streetcorner girls…I am impervious to your barbs; your arrows. You don’t know it yet, but I’m your basic nightmare.