Updated: Mar 6
Being a unique individual in a conservative world...
Acknowledging your unique characteristics is often easier said than done. Admitting who you are to yourself is also challenging at times because often, who you think you are or want to be and who you actually are, can be at odds with one another. Take me for example, I function within the extremely conservative world of sports where tradition means more to most people than self-expression. I, in particular, am in one of the most traditionalist sports of all — equestrianism. The sport of kings as it’s known, not only often requires wealth to participate but also get’s its basis in royal militarism. It is also primarily a gentile world where outsiders are rarely let in. So now, take me, a jewish girl from the city, dressing in all types of non-traditionalist clothing, trying to fit in in a world known for opposition to change and close-mindedness. To say I’ve received criticism over the years would be a gross understatement. I’ve been called names, Ive been told I'm ruining the sport of show-jumping, I’ve been told I’m offending my horse — I’ve had to have a thick skin and my identity has certainly been shaped by my experience. I have certainly felt like conforming at times and hiding my inner wackiness for fear of ridicule.
No one, no matter how confident you are, likes to feel mockery. I have been ‘cacawed’ at like a bird, I have received the ululating hand over mouth popularized (yet fraudulent) Native American war cry, I have had my ass slapped for wearing a low cut top while walking a course in competition…like I’ve said, my experience has had it’s low points. However, and luckily, my self-worth and courage are naturally strong personality traits. I can take the heat, so to speak. But that isn’t so easy for everyone. One of the most incredible examples of this came from a conversation I had with my stepdaughter a while back. I was writing up my will and estate and we were discussing what happens to people’s belongings when they pass… I asked her what of my things (referring to clothings and material items) of mine she would like if I died and she said, point blank, “your confidence.” I laughed and said, I can't give you that — it’s not tangible and she said, “but yeah, you can instill it in me.” It was truly one of the most poignant comments anyone had ever made to me.