Once a month the 1000 Speak for Compassion blogging movement aims to flood the Internet with good by posting about compassion.
This month, posts are focusing on love.
I’d been thinking through possible topics while binge-watching Scandal on Netflix, when THIS scene from Season 4 happened:
Here Olivia, who both the married President of the USA and the somewhat less complicated hotty who heads the Super Secret Spy Agency (who she’s dancing with in the video) are in love with, declares that she ISN’T going to choose between these two men.
Despite, at various times up until this moment, having demonstrated she loves both. Despite possibly being happy with either. Despite knowing either would be there for her if she just steps up and DECIDES.
She channels Kelly Taylor from Beverly Hills 90210, and in a grand profession of self-love ….
The part I found most surprising?
First? Incredulity and laughter:
Oh, come on!
I yelled at the screen.
She might as well have told us she likes scary movies. Or given up her virginity prior to asking “what’s that noise?” and wandering off into the dark alone to find out!
There’s no way this is ending well!
Next? A bit more reflection on why I felt that way.
On face value, it’s a wonderfully affirming and empowering statement.
Let’s watch the original, shall we?
It was 1995 and Season 5 of Beverly Hills 90210, so that would put the cast in college. Jennie Garth’s character, Kelly Taylor must choose between the two main heart-throbs of the show: Jason Priestley’s Brandon had proposed marriage, prompting Luke Perry’s Dylan to confess his feelings and ask her to leave with him on a trip around the world.
She chooses herself.
And young women around the world cheered.
We shouldn’t be boxed into a corner and forced to choose if we aren’t ready.
We should be ourselves, find ourselves, define ourselves, be true to ourselves – and so we shouldn’t settle for anything that might make us less uniquely us, stunt our growth, or take away from the possibility of achieving all our dreams.
Compromise for the sake of a relationship? Why?
Which brings me to watching Olivia 20 years later.
I still believe it is important and in no way selfish to love yourself and make sure the choices you make in life reflect and nurture your needs.
But that’s not what was going on here.
Kelly’s statement for a young college student still figuring out who she is and what she wants to be?
I can give a nod of approval to that level of self-awareness and the courage it took to (at least in that moment) stand by those words and walk away from both of them.
Olivia’s statement as a woman who has had at least a decade of adult living to find herself as well as three seasons with both Jake and Fitz to figure out which – if either – she wants?
This felt like failure to launch and pandering to the female audience by selling them the fiction that Mr. Right will just wait out there forever for you so you are free to be as self-centred as you like.
Her statement was also different in that she doesn’t free both men by telling them she chooses neither. She instead, rather cruelly, tells Jake that she wants Fitz, but also him, thus not letting any of them move on.
Olivia’s “choosing herself” isn’t about self-love.
It’s about not wanting to choose.
Perhaps desperately hoping “fate” will somehow intervene and decide for her in a way that will enable her to live happily ever after without hurting anyone’s feelings.
There’s nothing self-loving nor loving of anyone else about that.
That’s just plain old fear.
Which brings me back to me, 20-years out from cheering Kelly Taylor’s “I choose me” moment, discarding Olivia’s.
Because if Olivia’s moment is what “choosing me” is now about?
I don’t choose me.
In fact, my life – functionally – involves hundreds of moments where I don’t choose me.
Each time I watch the kids while my husband’s shift finishes, knowing that not being able to work late impacts my advancement, I choose my husband and our marriage over my individual needs.
Each time I struggle through homework with my eldest, or watch a Barbie movie, or read one last story at bedtime when I’m exhausted, or bake, or organize a birthday party at Cosmic Adventures, or wait online for hours to register my kids for courses, I choose them.
The fact that I’m not a director, that I shop at Wal-Mart, that we don’t have a garage, that I don’t get to travel as much as I’d like? All because I choose my family over myself individually.
But I CHOSE that.
Not those moments individually, but the whole package.
Because that package also got me a husband I’ve loved for over 12-years who GETS me and who equally raises our kids and gives me the space I need when I need it, a job I find rewarding, and two daughters I can’t imagine life without.
Which brings me to TRUE self-love, which is based on honestly knowing yourself, what you really want in life, what you need to be happy, and then going in eyes open and figuring out your best bet for getting it.
Because, when I step back and look at my big picture? All those many moments of not choosing me, are exactly how I get to be where I choose to be.
What about you? What are your thoughts on self-love and “choosing yourself”.
Be sure to read the other posts from this month’s link up here.