From the outside looking in I have always maintained above status quo when it comes to creating the illusion of perfection. Shoes never scuffed, hair always hot rolled, bag always matched my belt, car never runs out of gas. Prepared like a girl scout for any emergency. House ready to host an impromptu dinner at a moment’s notice.
Even as a little girl I understood the importance of being “camera ready” at all time with my father’s career on display as a high ranking military officer and my mother’s spousal support role in action even when we were grocery shopping at the base commissary. Being “on stage” when your foot left the home threshold was apparent as Mother would rather drink rat poison than dash out to the mailbox pre-make-up just in case someone drove by.
There have been moments where it was confirmed from the outside looking in that my “good girl” reputation was in fine standing. Parents who gave their daughter the green light to hang out with me no questions asked because I was that responsible. Even signed up on my own for Red Cross Babysitter CPR just in case. The boy who didn’t ask me to prom because “it’s not like you’re gonna put out so it’d be a waste of my money.” Thanks dude.
Anytime a joint was passed down the row at a music festival it was hopped over me by total strangers who knew not to even bother. Truly for years I thought it was because they suspected I was an uber hip narc like something off of 21 Jumpstreet only to be told rather bluntly once that I wasn’t cool enough to be a narc. Or even the receptionist at 21 Jumpstreet headquarters. Or the girl who delivers lunch to Johnny Depp and his narc friends. You get the picture.
My goodness continued well into various worlds such as dating, first job, grad school and any circle of friends. Folks spelled out jokes in front of me, boys knew I was an automatic “No” while co-workers apologized just to me for using the Lord’s name in vain. Colleagues left me alone in my hotel room at conferences as they hit the town each night. All of that confirmed in my mind that I was racking up goodness points right and left.
Add in a “pleaser personality” as well as “overachiever” along with “teacher’s pet syndrome” and you have a recipe for disaster. I was the kid who could keep herself up at night re-playing slight conversations in my head afraid I had insulted, said too much, hurt feelings, stepped on toes or revealed any other emotion than that chipper good girl. I also was well ahead in comparison to most of my acquaintances. Honestly and I say this with all humility, I was smoking them on who was gonna get to sit closest to Jesus in heaven, because why yes Virginia, everything is in fact a competition.
It’s easy to be a good girl in elementary school. Don’t spit your gum on the sidewalk or sass your teacher. One would never eschew thank you notes or leave a bed unmade. Done. As the stakes got higher with each passing year new rules were added ensuring goodness. Some were easy to check off. Can you be the last virgin standing in your group? Will you be the only one who doesn’t shoplift a lipgloss from the drugstore for fun?
Some good girl rules are not so easy. Will you avoid giggling with the others at the awkward kid on the back row? Will you still be nice to the girl who started the false rumor about you? Will you let jealousy take over when he chooses her over you? Can you forgive your coworker who threw you under the bus to your boss when push came to shove?
As more rules are made, more conundrums happen where a good girl has to keep up and show the world that in fact she is worthy of the braggadocios pep talk she gives herself on days she is overwhelmed and underjoyed. “I’m ahead. I’m winning. Look at all of the rules I keep! Look how good I am!” It’s life on a hamster wheel where the stakes keep piling higher to keep up and ahead of the other good girls – never knowing if your goodness is truly ever good enough.