I have countless role models among my family and friends that keep me going. But I also look to fictional characters for inspiration.
Before the eating disorder and severe depression, my fictional gal pal was Rory Gilmore. In high school, I easily related to her. She was quiet, witty, and loved books. Pretty and brainy – what more could I want to be?
Well, a lot more actually. When I revisited the world of Stars Hollow during my college years, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at Rory. She was deemed perfect at everything she pursued, denied being privileged despite her rich grandparents paying for everything she did, had a complete disregard for reality, often times treated her friends and boyfriends like crap, and yet somehow she had a parade of followers who worshipped the ground she walked upon. (For a more in-depth analysis why Rory Gilmore is a destructive and completely unrealistic role model for girls, please read this article. If I could sue someone for plagiarizing unspoken thoughts, I would.)
Needless to say, Rory is no longer an inspiration to me. But that’s okay. Her exit made room for a more worthy heroine: Veronica Mars.
Let’s backtrack to 2011. By then I had gone to treatment, started classes at a new college, and was chipping away at recovered life in Boston.
The first year of recovery is the hardest. In some ways it’s harder than a year of sickness because you are no longer numb. You begin to thaw. Eating disorders stunt your growth as an individual, and when you’re released from its cage, you feel mentally overgrown and awkward. Nothing is simple. Word vomit is a frequent occurrence. You are constantly crying, getting emotional over things you can’t explain. The entire time you keep thinking you’re more crazy and unstable than you ever were before. But you’re not.
As 2011 progressed, I was beginning to not only see myself differently, but the people around me through new eyes. I didn’t like everything I saw… I had never considered that I would lose things in recovery. After all, wasn’t that the reason why I went to treatment? To save everything I loved?
But still in the midst of my slow, but steady progress, I was going through what turned out to be the last rough patch with my then best friend and ex. For a multitude of reasons, one of which being I was finally speaking my mind.
Enter Veronica Mars.
One day I was at the Cambridge Library killing time before my ballet lesson. (Yes, you heard that right. Me. Ballet. It happened.) I was looking at the DVDs for something that would soothe the usual wave of anxiety after spending 2 hours in a leotard, when I stumbled upon the first season of Veronica Mars. I remembered commercials for it years ago, but had never seen it. So I checked it out and an episode later, I was hooked.
If you’ve never seen the show before, Veronica Mars is a modern-day and infinitely more badass Nancy Drew. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good overarching storyline with witty dialogue and an interesting ensemble of characters. For a show that was originally targeted for a teenage audience, it has some of the best writing I’ve heard on television and delves into territories of social and economical class, rape and slut-shaming, race and ethnicity, sex and gender. Unfortunately, it only lasted three seasons, but Veronica Mars will always be known to me as the girl who helped me find my inner badass.
Veronica Mars emulated everything I was too afraid to be, but knew I had in me. She is strong and independent. To me, there is nothing and will never be nothing more attractive and admirable than intelligence. Veronica is known and respected for her brain. That is her biggest and most celebrated attribute on the show, in my opinion. So I started believing in my own intelligence rather than constantly putting myself down and focusing on my body.
My confidence sky-rocketed, and with confidence, my recovery and happiness reached an uncharted high.
I learned that I can stand up for myself with intelligence and class.
I fight my battles with a quip in my heart. There is a huge difference between communication and confrontation. I don’t like confrontation. I mean, who does? I find no pleasure in it, which is why it bothers me so much when someone is unresponsive or worse, thinks I’m a bitch. I don’t like it either, you know! I still get scared speaking my mind. But I do it because I’d rather demand respect than sit comfortably in insecurity. It is not overreacting to ask for what you want and need. Telling someone that what they do hurts your feelings or bothers you doesn’t have to be an accusation. When I approach someone, I don’t yell and toss the blame at them. You don’t have to say hurtful things to throw a punch. I’ve learned that intelligent and honest words will make a bigger (and more effective) impact.
Veronica didn’t take shit from anyone. But even with her hard exterior, she had a heart that was just as easily hurt as anyone else’s. Having a heart isn’t a weakness. It’s okay to not be tough all the time. It’s okay to be marshmallow. It’s also possible to be serious and tough, but still retain femininity. I like polka dots. I like skirts and tights and fancy shoes. For whatever reason, my love of pink apparently makes me soft. But remember, it’s all fun and games until someone ends up with my stiletto up their ass.
Just because she had been through a lot of traumatic experiences, she didn’t deny herself the desire to love and be loved. Better yet, her relationships never defined or radically changed her personality. Having a boyfriend was never a priority. That isn’t to say when she was in a relationship, he wasn’t important to her. Quite the opposite actually. But she embodied the idea that you can follow your dreams and have a relationship. I feel like we’re taught that you can only have one or the other, and to have them both, you’re putting yourself at risk of losing your way. But I find happiness in both and believe there’s nothing stopping anyone from balancing the two.
Just like the show, Veronica isn’t without faults. She is stubborn, unforgiving, and at times takes cynicism to the whole new level of extreme. But that didn’t stop me from admiring her. Instead, it helped me accept my own self-proclaimed flaws and move past them.
Veronica Mars didn’t teach me how to be a badass. It was always there. She just helped me get a new contacts prescription so I could see that I already had it within myself.
You’ve got it too. Be cool, soda pop.