I spent most of my childhood in an ice rink and I loved every minute of it. Today my body still aches from the strains that were placed on it and my ego hasn’t fully recovered from never becoming the best, but I don’t regret one moment. Even if I did, I wouldn’t dare voice it publicly where my parents who spent their every waking breath and dollar on the sport could see. The funny thing about figure skating is that it can be the most beautiful sport to watch, and possibly the most dramatic behind the scenes. “That girl is your enemy” I remember my coach whispering in my ear, just moments after my competitor invited me on her parent’s yacht for the weekend.
In between trying to become a world class figure skater, I was also becoming a religious Jew. I envisaged one of those huge families with perfectly dressed matching children, glorious Shabbos meals and glamorous wigs. Fast forward a few realities, and getting kids dressed, let alone matching is a lot harder than it seems. Gourmet Shabbos meals actually require a lot of hard work and surprisingly need to be cleaned up upon completion. The beauty of a sheitel is only matched by the pain it derives as well as the deficit it causes in your bank account. It took a while, but I learned that cementing my beliefs in the one above, was really the only way to truly live the life I had dreamed of.
In one of those moments when you’re sure God is punishing you I found myself leaving the most beautiful city in the world to reside in what I was convinced was its polar opposite. If the change of scenery from gorgeous beaches and brand new white box homes wasn’t enough, this happened to be one of the coldest winters the city had ever seen. After months of hibernating, I finally ventured out to discover some of the nicest, most genuine people I have ever met.
Growing up, one of the first themes we studied in English class was, don’t judge a book by its cover. Two decades later, and an ocean’s hop away, these lessons ring true more than ever. As a communications girl, I don’t have the option of turning my back on our often-brutal social media feeds, entertaining as they may be. Incase our unhealthy habit of comparing every part of our lives wasn’t enough, now women have the comfort of doing so straight from their beds. After a sleepless night of nursing a newborn and tending to a sick toddler, you don’t even have to get up to see Sarah’s new sheitel, Mushka’s renovated kitchen or Dalia’s third trip to the Bahamas this year. What a promising way to start the day. And whilst these luxuries are beautiful and should be celebrated, concentrating on these things alone, whether your own or someone else’s won’t get you far.
Shortly after I received my bachelor’s degree which took 10 years, 3 kids and many sleepless nights, someone asked me how it felt to finally have my Masters. That was the sound of me being evicted from my Ivory tower. Growing up in a sport where being perfect is just the first step in a long line of feats to become the best it’s hard not to get caught up in the contest that is life. But I learned that success is not measured by the letters after your name, the medals around your neck, or the dollars in your bank. Even though those are all great things that probably required a lot of hard work (or not). It is the person you are and the type of people you are bringing into this world, it's the conversations we have and the relationships we build. Sometimes gazing at endless filtered images of other people’s highlights can make you forget that.
Like everything in this world, social media has the ability to uplift or devastate. I guess I resolved to join them, since beating them certainly wasn’t an option. In a world where women are coming together, speaking out and gaining strength more than ever, adding to the conversation of shared real-life experiences will only make for stronger, happier, women, united. And while I probably won’t be taking selfies whilst arguing with my husband over whose turn it is to change diapers or divulging the explicit details of how my amazon addiction almost left us broke, I hope that by elaborating on the everyday mundane experiences we all find ourselves facing, we can better enjoy them- together.
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