I am on a journey to figure out who I am and what I stand for; to find my purpose; to feel comfortable in my skin. This is a work in progress, an ongoing journey with many points and one that never stops until my last breath. Once upon a time I was a meek rabbit, but now I am becoming a ferocious lion who is protective of this very special creature I call Tanya. I was recently reminded of my power from (of all things) a car commercial.
The song in the commercial, You Don’t Own Me by Lesley Gore, struck a real chord with me. First, I just wanted to sing along, but then I really listened to the lyrics:
And don’t tell me what to do
Don’t tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don’t put me on display ’cause
You don’t own me
Don’t try to change me in any way
You don’t own me
I gave away my power many times in my life and let myself be owned. But I am taking me back. No one owns me but me.
You Don’t Own Me: Depression
My depression story is pretty straightforward. It sucks. Literally. It sucks the life, ambition and soul right out of you. It leaves you a shadow of your once vibrant, hopeful life. For a very long time, I let my depression be my sole story. It owned me lock, stock and barrel. No more. My foot is down. I may not be able to control and completely cast you from life, dear depression, but you don’t own me. And how do I know this? Because every time you reared your ugly mug, I eventually beat you back. It may have taken years, months, weeks, days, hours and minutes but I came back. And I always will. You may be a part of my life’s story, but you aren’t all of it.
You Don’t Own Me: Sexism
Sexism and misogyny took center stage this election cycle. It is depressing, but it also makes me oddly happy. It thrills me to see women (and many men too!) stand up and say “no more”. It is not right and it is not acceptable behavior, whether you’re a young boy or a grown-ass man running to be the leader of the best country in the world. Locker room talk or boy talk creates a culture where women are considered property and second-class citizens of which we are neither.
I also own the role I played in allowing this culture to continue. When I excused acts of sexism and let misogyny slide because that’s life and/or believed myself to somehow be less than. When I bought “boys being boys” as an acceptable excuse or even thought it was cute when directed at kids, forgetting those boys eventually become men. With 2017 almost here, it shocks me how belittled women remain in today’s society. The good news? Women all over the world are saying You Don’t Own Me and using our voice and money to bring real change.
You Don’t Own Me: Hate, Racism and Intolerance
This is not a political issue; this is a humanity issue. Nothing scares me more than racism. I don’t understand why we judge the worthiness of a person by race, religion or sexual orientation. People are just people. PERIOD. Your race, religion, sexual orientation or even gender does not make you superior or better. It is your actions that demonstrates your goodness. We cannot condemn an entire race or religion based on the actions of individuals. The individual(s) should be held accountable.
White Nationalism will not fix or solve our ills. Real problems exist with real people suffering but hate IS NEVER the answer. It makes me so angry and frustrated when people spout racist beliefs and the hate starts to burn in me too. And then I remember: Hate does not own me either. Knowledge does.
I refuse to succumb and lose my good-self to hate. Please don’t allow hate to own you and spew and do unspeakable things either.
You Don’t Own Me: Food
I am an unapologetic foodie but I also love it a little too much. Most of my adult life, I struggled with a roller coaster of lost and regained pounds. I hate roller coasters and want off. My focus this year has been to get healthy and it is very much a work in progress. Inch-by-inch I am gaining control over what I put in my mouth and moving my body more frequently. Emotional eating remains an issue, which means food still owns me in the worst possible way. Food is not my enemy, but I also want to be more than my food or my weight. I chose what to eat, not my emotions or food desires.
You Don’t Own Me: Money
My relationship with money has always been mixed. I spent years being a mindless spender and frittered money on stupid, meaningless things. I also obsessed about what my money could do for me in a no-so great way, such as what I could buy to make others jealous or to make myself look good in their eyes. Money doesn’t own me. I own it. I decide how to best use it and want to use it in way that makes me feel good and honors who I am.
You Do Own Me: Max
Yup, he does and he knows it too.
And I am not ashamed.
I adopted Max a little over four years ago and he makes me laugh every single day. He pranced his way into my life at my lowest point and helped me heal. Max is the sweetest, naughtiest and most lovable cat. Every day I shout “no” a hundred times a day and I also give him a hundred smooches too. Obviously, Max gets a lot of mixed messages. 😉 But he earned those titles of Chief Mischief Maker and Snuggle Bunny. 😀 He owns me and that’s okay by me.
Your turn. Tell me what doesn’t own you.
Jenn @ Optimization, Actually says
Love this post! Way to fight back and yes, yes, yes to your points on misogyny and depression (though I haven’t experienced it) and all of it really. I’m reading Think right now and the whole first half of the book is a huge eye-opener to all the social issues we ignore on a daily basis. For example, when we get all fired up about a missing (or recovered) person, it is always a “pretty white girl” and the author lists examples of kids of all ages who happen to be minorities and thus we’ve never heard (and probably never will hear) their stories. There’s so many other topics she covers, so I won’t try to sum it up here but we could all use a lot more awareness so we can do what you’re doing and say no to those injustices that our holding our society back.
Thanks, Jenn! Awareness is so important and something almost everyone can improve. Think sounds really interesting and something I need to read. One thing I am even more aware of (and appreciative of) is our power, individually and as a group. We must harness our power and create the change we want.
kathy @ more coffee, less talky says
TANYA, I REALLY LOVE THIS POST.
YES YES YES to all of it. We control our decisions and it’s so important to realize this. Our lives are what we make it and I love that you’re deciding to take control to make your life better. It’s a long, slow and sometimes painful journey but YOU CAN DO THIS. XOXOXOXOX
Thanks, Kathy! I appreciate your support so much! It can be a slow and painful journey as I am discovering but I am worth it, just as everyone else is too. I truly believe our lives are what we make it, but it’s up to us to actually take charge, which I haven’t been doing. Now I am.
This post is AWESOME!!!! 🙂
Love, love, love it! And as an aside, my cat Bailey owns me too. No shame in their game, lol 🙂
Thanks, Mackenzie! Absolutely no shame in our cats’ game. They know they have their Mamas under their paws. 🙂
I’m giving you a standing ovation right now. This post deserves it.
As I was reading your “food” paragraph, I kept thinking “Yep, food still owns me. I need to change that.” I understand that work in progress.
Thanks, Erin!! Food has owned me most of my adult life, although it’s probably at its peak right now. I used to be more of a mindless spender than eater but now I’m a much better spender and more of an emotional eater. 🙂 But I am a work in progress and I am paying more attention to what I put in my body. I’m not successful every day but I’m making improvements and headed in the right direction. You can do it too, my friend! We’ll cheer each other on!
i love this post so much Tanya. You don’t own me is one of my all time favourite songs – it’s one of the songs i mention in my post about songs of my life or whatever for alyssa’s challenge. it speaks to my soul, and absolutely ALWAYS makes me feel empowered and good, you know?
basically all of these things don’t own me either – but yeah my cats totally own me and i am okay with that. LOVE that pic of you and Max!
I must have missed that post. It is definitely a song that speaks to my soul as well. I’ve been listening to it multiple times each day as it has become a real anthem for me lately. So yes, I definitely understand how it makes you feel empowered and ready to take on the world. Cats are always going to rule us and I will never mind. Ever. It’s their birthright!