One of my favorite people and I had just finished up a lovely dinner together on our way to a concert. We’d been talking about other concerts we’d attended and how insanely expensive tickets can be. I mentioned to her that the most I’ve ever spent on a ticket was to see the musical, Hamilton and how I don’t regret a penny spent because it was one of my favorite things I’ve ever seen. I then was going on and on about this musical and that musical. We then stood up to leave the restaurant and head over to the concert next door. We were walking out of the restaurant arm in arm, giggling and leaning our little heads together…we looked adorable. All of a sudden she had this weird look on her face. “What’s with you?” I asked. She leaned even closer to me. Like so close her nose parted my hair. In the tiniest voice I’ve ever heard a grown person muster she whispered, “I really don’t like musicals.”
Well, I stopped dead in my tracks, did a very dramatic pivot, looked her square in the eyes and said, “you mean the thing I majored in?” I was laughing out loud. “You didn’t major in musical theater!” she said. To which I replied, “well, no, but I have a degree in theater and dance, took voice lessons and only once have I ever performed in a straight play, everything else has always been a musical.” She turned beet red. I could tell she felt horrible. “Oh please don’t stress, I’m only teasing you, love,” I promised. We had a good laugh about it. Walking over to the concert though I kept pressing her about musicals she’d seen and why she didn’t like them and what it was about them that didn’t appeal to her. I wouldn’t give up.
A whole week later I was still thinking about the fact that someone I love didn’t love something that was one of my greatest passions. I texted her, “Okay, so I am determined to find a musical you will like.” She was very obliging as I sent her suggestion, after suggestion. She actually listened to everything I sent her way and gave me very detailed explanations as to why each one bugged her. I finally texted my Dad who is the king of all things musical and said, “what do I do? She doesn’t like any of them! I’ve tried all of them.” After giving me a few more suggestions, my Dad, in all of his sage wisdom answered, “maybe that’s okay.”
My head immediately disagreed. IT IS NOT OKAY!! SHE MUST LOVE MUSICALS!!!!
Why did I care so much? She had promised me that she would always love to watch me perform. Well, me and Zac Efron. She had explained to me what about musicals she didn’t like and I refused to take that as an answer. I mean, my behavior will come as no surprise to most people that know me. I am relentless. I realized though that I had been trying to justify my deep love of something. The fact that my friend didn’t love musicals the way that I did offended me because to me it meant that musicals were then not a legitimate form of art. Really Chelsea? C’mon. That’s insane. Because of one person’s opinion, I felt the first 22 years of my life were delegitimized? That meant something was wrong in my head, not wrong with my friend. I was being a bit of a nut.
This whole episode reminded me of seeing one of my heroes, Glennon Doyle, speak. She talked about how her son had several friends over to the house, some boys, some girls and when she asked them if anyone was hungry the boys thought for a second and replied, “yes.” But what happened with the young girls? The question was asked, they stopped, looked around, waiting for some kind of telepathic consensus and then one girl looked up and answered, “no” for the entire group.
From the time we are young girls, women are taught to look for other people for approval of how they feel about something, something as personal as feeling hungry. When we’re hungry we don’t look inside and ask our tummy, “Hey, you hungry?” We look at our peers and ask their permission to be hungry or not. It is through this distrust of our own minds and bodies, Glennon says, that we stop trusting the decisions we make. I remember her telling this story and thinking, oh yeah, I bet some girls do that, but I don’t. I always know when I’m hungry. Then, as I avidly tried to get my friend to like musicals I realized I, too, have been tricked by society into not trusting my own likes and dislikes. If one person I know doesn’t like it, then I must be wrong. My friend is highly intelligent, gorgeous, and one of the hands-down loveliest people I’ve ever met. I assumed that if she isn’t into it, then my art isn’t legitimate. Not that her opinion doesn’t matter, but she should be entitled to that opinion, I entitled to mine and I should be able to believe enough in myself to know that my likes and dislikes are totally, 100% legitimate. I am beyond grateful for this amazing human in my life because she was willing to put up with a week straight of listening to musicals which she doesn’t like and because she brought me to the discovery that I need to learn to trust myself. If I like something, it means I like it. It doesn’t mean anyone else has to, it means I do and that is not a referendum on my intelligence or anything about me.
So, I leave you with this. Trust your opinions. No one knows you better than you do and in the words of a woman I admire very much, Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” (I admittedly first came to love that quote when watching The Princess Diaries. I love that movie and I stand by that love.)
Happy weekend friends! Here is to trusting yourself, your opinions and the decisions you make, I bet you’re going to make some really great ones. xooxoxox