I spent countless hall pass breaks in the bathroom of my jr. high and high school with my armpits under the hand dryers or neatly folding toilet paper into origami type shapes to tuck into my bra in a desperate attempt to keep up appearances that I didn’t sweat.
But the truth was (and still is) I sweat. And sometimes I sweat so much that it leaves pit stains.
I will never forget my friend Elisabeth admitting to sweating through her shirt during fifth period. Not only did this wave of comfort come over me that I wasn’t the only teenage girl who sweat so much it showed, but other girls who were sitting around silently nodded in agreement.
There have been countless other confessions from countless other women in my life since that moment and I wish I could kiss them all on the nose for their honesty. One confession was from Camille that warned me she had waited so long to pee that she was going to have a release fart once we finally made it to a restroom. My sister was the first one to admit to chin hairs, I think we all remember the friend who alerted us to the fact you can poop while pushing out a baby and nipple hair? Yeah. Nipple hair.
Then there’s the confession that catches you off guard. Like Lindy’s confession of an ingrown armpit hair so deep and painful that she had to have her husband dig it out with tweezers. Up until that point I had never heard of such a thing and like hell if I was going to let someone I wanted to make out with dig an infected hair OUT OF MY ARMPIT.
I nodded along with her harrowing tale and filed it away in the “LINDY’S CRAZY” file.
Two weeks later I ended up with an ingrown armpit hair so hurty that it made blinking painful.
Suddenly Lindy wasn’t so crazy anymore. Suddenly Lindy was onto something brilliant, she was so in love with someone that she trusted him to help her when things got embarrassing. So THAT’S what true love is! (However in full disclosure I had my mom dig out my armpit hair for me. Cody and I were still too new.)
I’m not saying you should sidle up to your seat mate on the public bus and tell them about the tonsillolith you dug out that morning, but there is extreme value in telling your story, the little quirky parts that make you who you are. (One of you just clicked on that tonsillolith link and went ZOMG I’VE HAD ONE OF THOSE!! The rest of you are just squicked and disgusted.)
I spent so long being someone different to so many different people that I never actually took the time to figure out who I really was. The truth is I am a flawed human being who makes mistakes, a lot of them. But I get up, dust myself off and make a joke about it. There’s no sense in lying or glossing over the ugly parts of my life because they have made me who I am today. However it makes perfect sense to share what I learned from the ugly parts, recycling my pain, anguish and embarrassment for the greater good of someone else.
That “flawless” girl you admire? She gets ingrown armpit hairs and sinus infections too. Those girls in the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition? You know at least one of them had to do a shoot on her period. Hollywood starlets get stinky gas and pap smears too. Hunky leading men get back zits and ear hair. And even more comforting? Taro Gomi was right when he said everyone poops. (Unless they’re me, then they just eat kiwis.)
Are you being you or are you being who you think you should be depending on who’s paying attention?
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” -Dr. Seuss