Who the Hell Do I Think I Am?

“I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo. What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here.” — Radiohead

Writing this is probably a big mistake.

After all, my intent here is to offer advice and inspiration to help women embrace their best selves. But I’ve been uneasy about the title of this blog.  I worry that there’s an inference that I’m some sort of Alpha female dispensing wisdom from atop Mt. Got-It-All-Figured-Out. But I am and always will be an eternal student in a never-ending beta phase — and frankly, that’s the way I like it.  True, I have learned a lot along the way and want to share what’s helped me in hopes it can help others get unstuck as well. But there’s something I feel compelled to make clear.

I’ve always known I’m fairly fucked up. Not kleptomaniac crack addict fucked up, but that special blend of secret overwhelming fragility mixed and not-so-secret self-loathing that I suspect afflicts a lot of us, maybe even you. As far back as I can remember I felt different and afraid, am tramped through each day certain I was as irritating an eyesore as ever lived. If I ever got any information to the contrary, none comes to mind. I lived in terror of being seen, but frustrated at never feeling heard.  Do you know those twin emotions of wanting desperately to be known and understood, coupled with a chilling dread of it?

“I lived in terror of being seen, but frustrated at never feeling heard. “

 I always thought my oozing insecurity was pretty obvious. As far as I’m concerned, I might as well be walking around with Laura’s limp and a sandwich board with big block letters reading “Help!”, “Love me!” or “Don’t Look at Me!” depending on the day.  But this doesn’t seem to be true.

Once in awhile I pass a woman on street in bright red lipstick and some part of her cased in leopard print and we exchange “Moya Sestra” glances that I interpret as mutual insight into our shared pain. But to my constant surprise, most people seem utterly unaware of the enormous iceberg of fucked-upedness below the surface. Either that, or they misread that part of the iceberg they can see and attribute to me all kinds of things that aren’t there at all.

Though I am still amazed that most people think I’m brimming with confidence, I think I’ve figured out why. Species who find life the hardest, those most in need of camouflage, they are the most likely to adapt.  Survival depends upon it.

Now while many have mistaken my offbeat interests and style as meaning I don’t give a fuck what others think. Not so. These things are just such a big part of who I am that conforming never seemed an option. And honestly, my imagination just can’t fathom anyone feeling differently about what I like than I do. (Why of course my fellow seventh-graders would recognize how cool this 40s novelty print dress is, tears and all.) Such is the strange narcissism of the odd and self-loathing.

But the truth is that I have learned how to not only survive but to succeed and be happy.  I became what I needed to become, and I know how I did it. And being in perpetual beta mode, I’m still becoming who I need to become, the woman I want to be. I’ve been inspired and taught, and I want to share these inspirations and lessons with you. I am doing it clumsily right now, but I hope you’ll bear with me while I work at getting better.

In other words, moya sestras, let’s all get better together.

Dixie Laite - Dame Town Writer

Author: Dixie Laite

Hi, I'm Sarah "Dixie" Laite, and I live in New York City with 5 parrots, 1 dog (Dr. Waffles) and 1 husband (Jeff). I love classic movies, animals, and haunting flea markets, ebay and TheRealReal. All my life I've been obsessed with figuring out how to navigate life as a woman. There are endless books, TV shows, gurus, guys, movies and magazines out there to guide you. But now that I'm closing in on 60, I noticed that the old rules don't apply, and most of the role models aren't old enough. I'm older now, I know more and weigh more. I'm eager to be inspired and to inspire others in return. Let's get a handle on this shit and figure it out together.

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  • Fellow readers: I’ve been lucky enough to know Dixie for several years, and I’ve been remiss if I’ve not told her enough that she has always inspired me and inspired me to be more like her.

  • The line “I lived in terror of being seen, but frustrated at never feeling heard” struck a chord in me. You capture the feelings of contradiction that so many of us feel but are not always able to share or admit. I was wondering where the inspiration for the term “beta phase” came from. I really appreciate your positive message. Yes, let’s get better together!

  • Lia, thanks so much. Your words inspired me — I thought to myself, hey, that is a good phrase, and just now made it a pull-quote!

    My inspiration for “beta phase” is the expression that’s used when people are working on software or product development, they often use the phrase to express that incarnation that is not the final product, that version where there’s an expectation that it will be tested, tweaked and eventually improved.