I’ve recently taken a job that requires me to arrive as early as 4:30 a.m. I’m having a great deal of fun, but the adjustment has been exhausting. On Halloween, I was weary, so I told the kids I decided against handing out candy.
Daughter looked terribly disappointed. She has been developing her skills as a special effects makeup artist, and looked forward to giving me the appearance of having skin torn from my face.
So I let her work her magic, intending to wear a turtleneck and jeans. But when I spied the tired old Red Riding Hood costume I bought years ago in Berlin, I was inspired! I donned the red-checkered dirndl, and with bloody skin hanging from my face, I became Empowered Red Riding Hood.
As I handed out candy, many girls thought I was a zombie. Conversations went like this:
Me: “No, I am Red Riding Hood AFTER she defeated the wolf!”
They: “I thought a hunter defeated the wolf?”
Me: “In my version she doesn’t need a hunter to save her because she is powerful all by herself. It wasn’t easy, and she got pretty scratched up, but she won!”
They: “That’s why you’re bloody? Because you fought the wolf? That’s awesome!”
Me: “Girl Power!”
They (as they walked away): “Girl Power!”
I felt energized, and on social media I declared it the best Halloween ever. Then I got a message. It seems my costume caused discomfort amongst some of the women in my small, Midwestern town. They used phrases like “boobs hanging out,” “skirt too short,” and “homewrecker.”
Initially, I was annoyed, but then I remembered a time when I was very judgmental of other women. I could blame it on the rules of modesty imposed by the religion I followed. I could blame it on the attitude instilled by my mother. I could blame it on jealousy. I could blame it on a host of reasons, and there would be grains of truth in each. But my primary reason for judging the appearance of other women was fear.
Fear that my husband would find them more attractive than me.
Fear that I would never have the body I wanted.
Fear of sexuality.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of my own repression.
Fear of things that go against societal norms.
Fear of losing my perceived power.
Fear of never living the life I truly wanted to live.
Fear that maybe, just maybe, the rules I’d lived by my entire life were actually wrong.
Fear is a powerful emotion that causes us to think, speak, and live in ways that are completely unhealthy. What if the women in my neighborhood had decided to focus solely on themselves? Granted, the holiday is geared toward fear, but it is also an entire twenty-four hours when you can try on any life you want. Maybe you would like to be a belly dancer. Or a business woman. Or a nun. Or a movie star. Or a goddess. Or a three-headed monster. Or an ex-wife. Or something super scary like a German restroom attendant.
The point is, the world is vast and wonderful, and there are endless possibilities for how you can choose to live your life every single day. My fears went away when I started focusing on my own path, and quit worrying about others.
Every individual has their own journey, and it is not my place to judge what someone else needs for the furthering of their own soul. My journey led me to a Halloween night in small town, USA where I attempted to empower young girls to recognize their strength. The following morning, I was back at work, taking the next step and the next and the next. We’re all going to leave this life soon enough. Personally, I don’t want to waste one minute in fear of how someone else chooses to live.
Syndicated columnist Ginger Claremohr is an author, speaker, and mother of five. Follow her on Facebook, find her on the web: www.claremohr.com, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.