Breaking the stereotype and showing people that your life doesn’t have to be the same as their preconceived notions does feel really awesome! I love how Contributor Diane Vukovic says that it not only make us feel good to break stereotypes, but it also sets an example for others.
I’ve always been a hardheaded, argumentative person. This personality trait caused me a lot of trouble throughout life – like when I got detention for refusing to do pointless busywork at school, or the many fights I had with my parents when I didn’t accept their explanation of “That’s how it was for your siblings. That’s how it is for you too.”
I’d like to say that I got control of my argumentative self as I got older. The truth is that I only found more things to fight against. Many of these are the blatant (albeit “benevolent”) sexism we women encounter on a daily basis.
“You hitchhike with your daughter! Aren’t you scared?”
“You are a mom? Then what are you doing out at a bar?”
“Aren’t you are afraid to go camping by yourself?”
“Wait, that drop-point knife is for YOU?”
If I weren’t so hardheaded, I might let these comments slide. Instead, I take great pleasure in doing the exact opposite of what is expected of me as a women and a mother.
I admit it: It feels really good to prove people wrong!
For example, I take great pleasure in the looks I get when hardcore backpackers see me on the trail with my preschool-aged daughter. Or the time I started a fire after a downpour even though everyone at camp told me that I was stupid for even trying.
My girl has also started enjoying the attention she gets for being the only kid on the peak. Or the looks of surprise she gets when she says, “Why are you scared of a cute little spider?” to an adult in the midst of a freak-out session.
It used to worry me, this feeling of pleasure that comes from breaking stereotypes.
Should I really feel so good?
Doesn’t that mean I am doing things for them and not actually for me?
Am I always going to have to be battling these stereotypes and constantly proving myself (whether in the gym, on the trail, or my professional life)?
But then I remember the moms from my neighborhood who say things like, “That’s so cool. I want to try camping.” Or the moms who actually do come out with me. These are moms who would have never dreamed of sleeping in the woods if I hadn’t done it first.
We all need role models to show that it is possible. Seeing is believing, and those role models are the ones who break cracks in the tough shells of stereotypes and let light flow through in the form of new possibilities.
All of the women I see on the trails are doing this every time they get out. These trailblazers open up people’s eyes and redefine what it means to be a woman.
23 weeks prego + carrying a 27 lbs. toddler + 1,000 feet elevation gain = one of our badass ambassador’s weekend adventure. #hlaw #hikelikeawoman #hlawateam #forceofnature #badasswoman #mountainwoman #mountainlife #sheexplores #hikeitbaby #raiseawildchild #adventuremamas #raisethemright #getoutstayout #westvirginia #hikelife #momswhohike
And, yes, that IS something we should feel good about!
So, do it for yourself first. Enjoy the view at the top of a mountain because you earned it with your sweat and endurance. But also enjoy how good it feels to break stereotypes because you are redefining the world when you do so. And that’s something to feel proud of!
Read more about Diane on her blog, Mom Goes Camping.