Dare To Be Different

The Lean In concept is seductive because it implies women should want to rise up in corporations. What if you want to do something else with your life? I find that there’s a stigma against women who rebel the roles others in society expect them to have: mother or nurse or teacher. And now one of the only acceptable roles has become “corporate superstar.”

Why not Lean Out? Why not live your life Left of the Dial? The idea that moving mountains is the only best life strategy turns me off. What if you’re different? What if you don’t live up to the stereotypes of how a woman is supposed to live and act and think? I regret Lean In might just replace one stereotype with another.

I regret the way society continues to place women in a sexuality box. It’s damaging, particularly to young woman coming of age now or who are going to come of age in five or ten years.

The root of feminism was that women were often trapped in their marriages at the time when getting married and raising a family was the only acceptable option for a woman.

I say: rebel. Live your life. Choose to do your own think. Be a free spirit.

It’s possible to be single AND happy. You have the power. It’s not wise in my estimation for a woman to lose herself in a relationship, to subjugate who you are to please a man (or woman). That results in ill-health.

I write this blog entry because I think it’s important for the next generation of women to hear this: for our daughters and nieces who are just kids now and will face a different world from the ordinary kind of bullying I experienced.

I take issue with how a female author criticized a young woman who wanted to wait to have sex until she was married. Also: Tara McCarthy wrote Been There, Haven’t Done That about being a virgin in her twenties.

It upsets me that societal norms are deemed normal and anything deviating from the norm is considered aberrant. Is the current hook-up culture of sex without love normal? Why does society give a woman brownie points for having sex on the third date with nearly every guy she meets?

I say: “qualify your leads” like any good salesperson. Make the guy work for it. If he knows you’re an easy lay, he won’t feel he needs to keep up his end of the bargain in the relationship, because he knows you’re emotionally hooked on him.

That’s why men have no incentive to Lean Out and give up their power.

I say: it’s OK to be different. It’s OK to Lean In or Lean Out or Live Left or do whatever it is you want to do.

I say: it’s time to give other people the drubbing they give us. It’s time for women to take back our power. It’s time to celebrate our differences not judge others for having them.

I’m a critic of what passes for normal in society. Judging others for being different is NOT normal so I urge readers not to give the haters the power to influence how you feel about yourself.

Do you want to Lean In? Or do you want to bake brownies? Either way is perfectly fine.

I’ll end this blog entry by cheering on everyone who feels like they don’t fit in, who doesn’t see themselves reflected in the media.

My memoir Left of the Dial gives readers hope ultimately because it shows there is not one right way to live. If I believed the snow job the staff in the community mental health system told me about what I was capable of: I might not have sought to achieve half of what I’ve achieved.

My memoir lifts the veil of silence that traps people with mental illness into hiding, into faking themselves into thinking they have to do what’s considered “normal” to be accepted in society.

Getting a corporate job isn’t the only possible thing you can do. Getting married and having children isn’t the only possible thing either.

Dare to be you: the one and only you.

You’ll be happier and that’s what counts in the end:

If you can’t please your soul, how will you live out the rest of your life?

Something to think about.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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