There are no extra points for being a martyr.
Some things are hard, like really, really hard, and it’s an accomplishment to make it through. But some things aren’t, they don’t need to be, and making them seem harder doesn’t earn you any extra points, it just creates one more thing to overcome, one more point of stress, and one more task to dread. No one needs that!
A popular “influencer” I semi-follow posted a video a few months ago. Here’s the gist…
How do you make your healthy morning smoothie taste good?? YOU DON’T – IT’S AWFUL! Drink it anyway.
Uh, what? She then went on to list what she puts in her smoothie – plain/ unsweetened protein powder, plain/ unsweetened this and that…and then she demonstrated how you literally choke down this disgusting drink, even though you hate it, but you do it because it’s good for you. Now, I know my way around a Whole Foods Market pretty well. I’m familiar with a lot of the ingredients that go into this smoothie (I’ve also read the book by the actual nutritionist who created the recipe for this smoothie), so I KNOW that there are, in fact, A LOT of ways to make this smoothie amazing and delicious, in addition to being healthy.
Watching that smoothie-misery video made me viscerally angry. Angry that a woman or anyone really would use this act of martyrdom as a badge of honor – “look how terrible this is, and I STILL do it every morning!” I won’t even get into all of the ways that I found this detrimental to those with issues around body image or disordered eating, but seriously, what kind of message does this send? It got me thinking…why do we do this?
Where along the way did suffering become a badge of honor for women? At what point did we decide that the more miserable things make us and the harder they are, the more rewarding they are – or the better we are for doing them.
Making an amazing morning smoothie that puts a smile on your face while also fueling your body in the best possible way seems like a win-win – something to be proud of and that you can share with everyone! Making your smoothie deliberately bland and painful to drink promotes the notion that there’s honor in suffering.
We’re creating new ways to breed judgment and throw shame around. Why can’t we say, “I love this, it makes me happy, AND it’s good for me,” and cheer for ourselves and give our friends permission to cheer for us (and themselves) too?
I’m all for doing hard things because some things are really hard, and they need to be done. But I do not see the nobility in not accepting the support or help that might make the hard things a little easier. There are no extra points for drinking the gross smoothing.
If you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to check out Shonda Rhimes’ book Year of Yes. It’s amazing, and I don’t know how I’ve missed it for the past 5 years, but I started reading it right as I finished this post. She talks about this very topic and wonders about motherhood and martyrdom…
There are all kinds of ways and reasons that mothers can and should be praised. But for cultivating a sense of invisibility, martyrdom, and tirelessly working unnoticed and unsung? Those are not reasons.
Yes. Yes to that Shonda.
The problem is that when we perceive there to be extra praise for the hardest tale or the most obstacles, then we no longer look for ways to help others or ourselves. Instead, we look for ways to “win” this battle. We get caught up in racing to see who can be the best wife, worker, mother, friend by sacrificing the most of themselves.
We don’t need more competition. We don’t need more shame or more judgment, and we DEFINITELY don’t need one more reason to feel bad about ourselves.
The tough stuff in life won’t come with alternatives or options. So friends, make your smoothie taste good, do a thing you love, order take out, make today pajama day, let someone else do the dishes and the laundry and the cleaning (if those are things you don’t enjoy), and make it fun for you too. Don’t suffer because you think it’s supposed to be hard.