This post originally appeared on Bustle.
By Emma Lord
My whole life I have been a classic, textbook definition of a "good girl," for better or for worse. It didn't happen because I look a certain way or even because my parents raised me a particular way. It just happened that the things that made me happy in life tended to line up with the all-too-familiar Pollyanna stereotype. Growing up, I never had a problem with this, and for the most part, nobody else did either. It wasn't until sometime around puberty that all of a sudden being a "goody-two shoes" had a stigma: I went from being just a regular human to "the girl who doesn't drink" or, as the boy I wouldn't let kiss me on a first date put it, "The Ice Bitch". (I really can't believe I let that charming prince get away.) As I grew up, I began to see that all the qualities that made me who I was were increasingly viewed in a negative -- and completely skewed, inaccurate -- way. I was being judged for being who I was by people who didn't have a damn clue who I really was. Thus the plight of the Grown-Up Good Girl.
There were times when it certainly was advantageous in my adult life to be able to fall back on the fact that I never got into much trouble as a kid, but there were just as many drawbacks: People making assumptions about me or even being annoyed that I was a particular way being the major one. In middle school, I heard a rumor that someone hated me, and being 12 years old, of course I demanded an explanation. The one I got? "She's just so annoyingly happy all the time." APPARENTLY THIS WAS A BAD THING THAT PEOPLE WOULD HATE ME FOR. Oh, sweet, naive, 12-year-old me: You have no idea how much more of that is headed your way.
I mean, fair enough. I'd gotten the explanation I'd wanted, but still no vindication for the annoyance that I felt toward her. I let it go then, but if I'd had the presence of mind to express myself, these are the things I wish I could have told her and all of the people who make wrong assumptions about "good girls":
1. We don't think we're better than you.
Yeesh almighty, guys. I don't know where the hate storm started with the "less good" folk accusing us of thinking that we're better than you, but we don't feel that way at all. We are certainly different from you, but who isn't different from everyone else? An awareness of our differences doesn't, by any means, imply that we think we're "better" than you. Our act of validating our experiences by sharing them with each other is in no meant to invalidate everyone else's, and we have respect for everyone who is living their life to the fullest--not just the people who are living their lives the way we live ours.
2. We are not secretly hung up on what people think of us.
I have gleaned from comments I've received about my appearance and personality that people are assuming that "good girls" are somehow insecure or unwilling to be our "real" selves because we are so preoccupied with looking and acting like sweet little girls. This couldn't be more wrong. We just happen to be this way, just like everyone else happens to be a certain way. Our personalities are not a response to outside pressure, or a reflection of some pathological need to please other people. "Good girl" and "tireless people-pleaser" are not the same thing. Don't get it twisted. We don't lose sleep at night terrified that we would lose friends if we weren't "good" all the time. We just sometimes tend to gravitate towards other "good girls" the same way all humans tend to gravitate to people they have stuff in common with.
3. We ARE having fun.
Just because our definition of "fun" is different from a lot of other people's doesn't mean that we aren't having any. I'm super confused at this double standard: Nobody hates on people for having fun by going out and drinking, but if you exercise your free right as a human being to have fun doing something else other than partying, you are a terribly boring, no-fun-having person? Why has our idea less drunk, less drugged out version of fun inspired so much weird insecurity from other people? Haters gonna hate, but every birthday I ever have will still be a tea party because cake happens to be how I get down.
4. We are friends with people who are not "good girls."
In fact, most of my friends aren't good girls. I'm the token good girl. We're not some weird, elitist cult of humans that travel in packs swapping Taylor Swift CDs. Just like most people, we have a very wide range of valued and cherished, whom we turn to in times when we need different perspectives on life. Does that sound like your social network? Yeah, that's because it probably is. Good girls aren't inexplicably the only people who hang out with people exactly like them. We tend to be more excepting of other personality types and lifestyles than people are of us. We appreciate the knowledge and experience that friends who identify as rebellious offer us, the same way they appreciate our perspectives. This is a give-and-take, not a pick-a-side.
5. We are not secretly sexual deviants.
The "good girl" fetishization thing is creepy and weird. Yeah, maybe we do want to get freak and maybe we don't, but just like any other type of human being, it's none of your damn business unless you're literally about to have sex with us, or we're super close friends who are hanging out getting cheese-drunk on a Saturday night.
6. We are also not sexually repressed.
Oh, God, if I had a dollar for every time someone tried to "save" me from the presumed repressed life I was living. "Good girl" is not a synonym for "asexual virgin" (although it's totally fine if that is you; it's just offensive to assume someone is that), and we are more than capable of enjoying guilt-free, awesome sex. But again: It's nobody's business.
7. We are totally capable of making fun of ourselves.
I'm pretty much never not making fun of myself, not because I think I'm lame, but because most people are worth making fun of, myself included. I totally understand that the standards I hold myself to are not typical of the average person, and see the humor in it readily and often. You can make fun of us all you want but nobody will ever make fun of us harder than we already do ourselves.
8. We don't actually worry about missing out on things.
A lot of people were saying that they felt "sorry" for me for missing out on all these experiences that I didn't have because I was sitting on the sidelines. I'm sorry, but whose to say that just because I don't do "bad girl" things that I'm "missing" anything? Do you think there are no other valuable choices to be made? Because there are. There are great things that "good girls" choose to do. We're not cowards: If we were "missing out" on something and felt bad about that, we would simply choose to go do it.
9. We are not happy sunshine-y robot people who have perfect lives.
Just because we live our lives this way doesn't mean that we haven't struggled, had periods of darkness and doubt, or wrestled with huge amounts of insecurity. I very much resent this idea that good girls are a product of having "easy" lives. We work just as ridiculously hard and face the same terrible parts of the human experience that everybody else does. I would be this way regardless of whether I had more or less hardship in my life, and I think most "good girls" would say the same.
10. We didn't actively choose to be "good girls."
I didn't wake up one day and decide to be a "good girl". I wasn't petrified by my super strict parents or anything. In fact, my parents were equipped and ready to have rebellious kids, because my dad was the most rebellious of them all, and some of my siblings totally did get into shenanigans in high school and college that will make great stories for the grandkids one day.
I just didn't...feel like it. Plain and simple. Even when I was far beyond my parents' house and attending Playboy's literal top party school in the nation, I just wasn't interested in binge drinking and random sex. Shrug.
11. We are not precious flowers who need protecting.
We have Tumblr and Netflix, first of all, so it's like not we are going to be shocked by anything going on in the real world. But I hate this notion that our edgier friends can't talk to us about the things going on in their lives because they're afraid of "shocking" us. We are still independent, non-judgmental, intelligent human beings who will not immediately get Disney princess crazy eyes at the idea of you compromising our naivety. Tell us your problems! We want you to be able to feel heard. Tell us your stories! They're crazier than ours anyway.
12. We will not inevitably change our ways and be better off for it.
I remember very clearly before we left for college, a guy friend of mine (who did not realize I was standing behind him) casually said, "Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if one day I woke up with Emma naked in my bed." I noticed this running theme throughout high school and college: Everyone was waiting for the day when I would be "fixed" or "changed" in some way, and shed my good girl-ness like a butterfly emerging from a repressed cocoon. They were convinced that I would eventually see the light on how great everything would be if I rolled the way they did. But I like my life, and I like the way I am, and I'm not going to feel bad about that the same way that people who aren't like me shouldn't feel about it. In the words of Kim K, "Can I live?!?!"
More from Bustle: