By: Sheila Moeschen, IATG Senior Editor
She is the kind of woman who makes Cersei Lannister look like an innocent fuzzy duckling. Lady MacBeth is one of Shakespeare’s fiercest female creations. She’s a little flawed. She lies. She manipulates. She’s a willing participant is some murdery choices (namely, murder). But she is also strong, brave, resilient, and affair with madness aside, a woman who knows who she is, without shame, without apologies, without regret. I was seventeen and a senior in high school when I was cast as the nefarious Lady Mac Bee.
In my real life, I felt none of those things—brave, strong, awesome—I was too busy swimming in my own end of the pool with the other nerdy, goofy, artsy kids wracked with self-doubt and rife with insecurities. But that’s the great thing about performance, slipping into someone else’s skin, walking around wearing someone else’s brain. When I was on stage, I felt pretty indestructible. I was equal parts Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters and Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. Unbeknownst to me, I was channeling my inner Power Sister.
A friend of mine coined that ‘ism referring to strong, present, take-no-mess, kind of women. “Look at you, Power Sister!” he crowed when he saw this photo of me a high school friend recently slapped on my Facebook page.
A month after that photograph was taken, I would lose my father to cancer. I would certainly need to channel something of strength, resilience, and back bone in the aftermath of grief and in the wake of the dizzying changes that unfold during that final stretch living on planet high school. Prom, graduation, senior night and senior antics, tearful goodbyes, freshman orientation, college move-in day, new hellos, and a new-ish 2.0 you; a life gone from zero to sixty in the space of an exhale. The girl playing at Lady Mac seemed ready to handle it all at the time with grace and humor to spare. Power Sister reporting for duty, until, she didn’t. “Where did that girl go?” I thought as I stared at that photo, “I know that’s the girl I want to be, but is that always the girl I am?”
There is so much that can come between you and your inner Power Sister, not the least of which are fears, troubles, jerk face romantic entanglements, idiotic bosses, unkind people (worse, unkind people who share your DNA), the billion unsolvable problems like war, poverty, and what the hell IS a calorie and why are so many of them ruining my croissant? All of which can make you doubt yourself, can make your voice feel thin the way it does when you try and scream in a dream, can make you feel small and diminished. And if you’re not careful, you can start to believe it like Alice who nibbled her way down to inches.
My inner Power Sister has never gone anywhere (yours hasn’t either), but I am guilty of stifling her, of listening to and buying into the redonkulous voices of criticism and can’t-icism, of dragging her through a desert of dubious decisions made to please someone else, to live up to someone else’s idea of me, and of straight out benching her when maintaining a steady course was easier than tipping the canoe and setting it on fire—the riskier option, but by far the most satisfying.
What we blame as a trick of the mind or coincidence—the Mumford and Sons tune stuck in your head that just happens to play when you punch up your favorite radio station, the text from that friend you’ve been meaning to call, the extra dollar that finds its way into your hands just when you need it most—are gifts of cosmic intel in some form or another for reasons tailor made for you. So it is with your inner Power Sister. She’s always talking to you; when need be she can be downright yelly, thank goodness. Listen and buy what she’s selling; she’s got your back, she’ll never tell you those jeans make your knees look fat, she wants you to use your amazing voice (and not just for singing in the shower), and she’ll show you how to split atoms if you let her. She reminded me that I can choose to be more of that girl in the photo more of the time. I already know how to use the ruby slippers, I’ve known all along.
Featured image courtesy Matthew Toomey