I know that women kick ass. It's one of the core beliefs of my Millennial generation -- that we modern females do well in school, excel at work, make good money, raise cool kids, take careful care of our minds and bodies, and rarely look like we're batting a subtly mascaraed eyelash while doing it (please note, however, that taking over the world is usually much harder than we make it look). I don't need constant reminders of our gender's ability to make big moves and - thanks Obama -- do big things. I see it in the women around me, all day, every day.
But sometimes, it takes watching Kelly Clark land the first 1080 in a women's snowboarding competition to regain a little perspective.
I was lucky enough to attend last week's Winter X Games 15 in Aspen, Colorado. Most of my time was spent wandering around the base of the slopes, asking X Games fans WTF was up with their love lives. But when the cameras turned off, I found myself totally and utterly captivated by the competitions happening around and above me -- and by the women who were performing unbelievable feats and stunts that completely confounded my non-athletic brain.
Enni Rukajarvi grabbing her snowboard and spinning through the air on her final slopestyle run! Kelsey Serwa hurtling her body across the finish line with a bloody face and a gold medal! Kaya Turski overcoming ACL surgery and making her win look effortless on the ski slopestyle course (and inviting constant comparisons to the male skiers)! Lindsey Jacobellis surging ahead and leaving her competitors in the dust!
It's one thing to watch these women do their thing on TV, where their talent -- and the incredible height of those slopes and jumps and flips -- can feel a world away. But to see it in person, and to watch these women defy gravity (and sometimes sanity) just a few feet away...quite simply, it blew my mind. Where did they learn to do that?! And how can I be more like them?!
As I travel the country interviewing young women and men for my upcoming book on modern romance, I am often faced with my own fears and insecurities, as reflected back at me through the incredible (and incredibly confused) women who I meet. We want so badly to be fearless -- in life, in love, in leisure -- because our trailblazing mothers always told us that we should be. That's what they worked so hard for, isn't it? For the freedom and opportunity to venture forth in the world, killing it like rockstars every empowering step of the way?
But damn, that fearlessness can be tough to muster when we're confronting the challenges and mixed messages of our non-extreme-athlete daily lives. Should I ask for that raise? Should I book that solo trip to New Zealand? Should I give up my safety net and move to a city offering that awesome opportunity? Should I send that daring text message to the guy I like?
Being fearless is difficult.
And then you end up on a snowy mountain with these kick ass women, and they are flying through the air and throwing caution to the wind and never taking the safe and easy road. And they're just SO. FREAKING. AWESOME. And you think to yourself, what am I so afraid of again? What exactly do I find so intimidating about the world? What is stopping me from doing everything and anything that I want to do, in full force, right now?
Suddenly, you can't seem to remember what you were so scared of.
I'd like to make a call to modern young women, myself included. Let's live more like the X Games athletes! Let's inspire others with our fearlessness. Let's sail down the hills and jump off the ramps and smash up our faces and pull stunts that no one has ever seen before -- metaphorically, of course. In whatever way means something to us.
Let's breathe in the fresh air, look our dangerous and risky course square in the face, and kick ass.
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