Unless you live under a rock, I’m sure you have seen the new Colbie Cailat video for her song “Try.” If you haven’t, you can watch it here. I think it is a great video with a great message, not to mention a catchy song that has been stuck in my head for two days. While the lyrics have been rolling around in there, it got me thinking. This is an important message, not just for girls and women, but for everyone. So here is my non-rhyming, extended version of “Try.”
For the moms out there, trying to do it all, trying to clean the house, and make the beds, and keep the kids clean, happy, and healthy. Trying to look perfect at the school drop off, worrying about your roots and your shoes and if anyone noticed the worn spots on your purse or the snot stains on your shirt. Running the kids to dance and t-ball and gymnastics and karate. Forgetting to eat lunch, but thinking it’s ok because you really need to lose those last few pounds anyway. Searching Pinterest for a recipe for meatloaf that your four year old will actually put in his mouth while telling your kids that they can only watch one more episode of My Little Ponies, because you are worried about the amount of screen time they are getting. Doing the dishes, cooking food that half your family won’t even eat, smiling for your partner because you know s/he had a rough day at work, and you really don’t want to burden them with the stress you have building up inside you. Posting a picture of your smiling family on Facebook while editing the story of your super fun family picnic so people don’t find out that your drank too much wine and your partner ran over the beach ball and your youngest smeared poop on the picnic blanket, and now that you think about it, did you ever take the laundry out of the washing machine? Yelling at your kids, even though you know you shouldn’t but you are just So Tired, and can’t they all just cut you a break? Thinking you aren’t fun enough, creative enough, smart enough, energetic enough, put together enough, good enough of a mom for your kids to like you.
You don’t have to try so hard. You don’t have to give all of yourself away. You don’t have to be perfect Every. Single. Day. You don’t have to worry so much about if people like you. Your kids like you.
For the preteen and teenaged boys and girls who are just figuring out who they are, wanting to fit in but not knowing how to do it. Worrying about being cool. Begging their parents for the right cloths, the right shoes, the right phone, for makeup, for anything that makes them seem older. Pushing their Barbies and toy trucks into a closet, even though they still like them. Girls dumbing themselves down because boys don’t like it if you are smarter than they are. Boys playing sports they don’t like, because girls don’t like wusses. Hiding tears, hiding fears, hiding hopes and dreams until you can’t find them anymore. Forgetting what you want to be when you grow up in the hype of being cool now. Swearing to sound daring. Smoking your first cigarette to fit in, thinking addiction only happens to other people. Feeling invincible and horribly vulnerable at the same time. Hoping the other kids will like you.
You don’t have to try so hard. You don’t have to grow up today. Being true to yourself is cool. You don’t have to change a single thing. Don’t change so much that you don’t like you.
For the girl who has discovered that she doesn’t like boys in that way, who dates her best friend’s ex boyfriends because it’s the closest thing she can get to her. Who changes the pronouns in her poetry to be more socially acceptable. Who goes out with every guy who asks her so that no body knows that she doesn’t like any of them. Who cuts herself to release the pain inside of her. Who falls into the rabbit hole that is the internet, because that is the only place she can be who she really is. Who applies for a college as far from home as possible in the hopes that she can just be herself there. Hoping to find a nice girl who will like you.
You don’t have to try so hard. You don’t have to bend until you break. You just have to stand up, be proud, and find your own place. Don’t worry, you’ll find lots of people who like you.
For the politicians on both sides of the ever-more-prominent dividing line between parties, getting too wrapped up in finding things wrong with the other side to actually get any work done. Letting the power get to your head. Forgetting why you started out in politics in the first place. Forgetting about helping people. Forgetting about changing the world. Right wing getting caught up in a religious debate that has nothing to do with making policy. Left wing too busy trying to be clever to realize that you are losing ground. Letting the country down as you pick each other apart. Worrying so much if your constituents like you.
You don’t have to try so hard to make us look the other way. You just have to shut up, suck it up, and work toward a better day. Put your differences aside, they are what make this country great. And stop worrying about how many voters like you.
For everyone with a hidden illness, trying to put on a brave face. Smiling through the tears, working through the pain. People telling you to man up and get over it, saying you don’t look sick, rolling their eyes when you call off of work AGAIN. Popping the pills the doctor gives you, hoping that this time maybe they will work. Signing up for clinical studies, looking for an answer. Praying to your Gods for an answer. Wondering why me? What did I do? How am I going to ever deal with this? Hoping you didn’t pass it down to your kids. Wishing everyone would just Leave. You. Alone. But at the same time wishing someone would hold you tight and make it all better. Getting glared at by little old ladies when you use your handicapped parking placard at Target. Hearing them mutter about how you must have stolen it from your grandmother, because you are too young to need it. Hiding the sorrow in your voice when you have to cancel plans with your friends and family because you just don’t have the energy left to see them. Wishing that they understood you.
You don’t have to try so hard. You don’t have to hide it all away. You just have to reach out, ask for help, and make it through every day. Don’t hide your pain, it is part of who you are, and your family likes you.
For the parents of children with special needs, sitting sleepless by their bedside, holding their hands until their little eyes close and their breathing slows. Knowing you are going to have to get up in a couple hours and go to work or get the other kids up or run another feed through the tube. Driving from one appointment to another, doctors, therapists, specialists, orthatists, psychologists. Fighting the insurance company over and over and over again. Applying for benefits that you know your child is entitled to, but you still feel guilty about needing to ask for. Watching kids younger than yours do things you can only dream of your child being able to do. Trying to quiet the voice in your head that keeps you awake at night, while it screams all of the things your child will never have, never be, never know. Drying your child’s tears the first time that they realize that they are different and the other kids don’t want to play with them. Fighting the school district for better inclusion, better anti-bullying rules, better training for the teachers who take care of your baby for the majority of her day. Searching the internet for new studies, new treatments, new devices that could make your child’s life a little better. Ignoring stares, answering questions, smiling at well-meaning people who just make things worse. Fighting to get the R word removed from the world’s vocabulary. Hoping for a better tomorrow for your child.
You don’t have to try so hard. You don’t have to do it on your own. You just have to love that child and enjoy every single day. Just tell them “Baby, I like you. I will always like you.”
You don’t have to try so hard. You don’t have to bend until you break. Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, do you like you? Cuz I like you.