I know. It’s a weird name for a website, but there’s a story behind it that I’m sure you can relate to:
I wore the same pair of Guess jeans to school every day of the week, a leather jacket from a boyfriend who was now in jail, and my favorite and only pair of tennis shoes; Converse sneakers.
I carried three things with me at all times: a pack of Marlboro Reds in-a-box, a lighter, and a butterfly knife, also from Incarcerated Boyfriend. I had just moved from one of the largest cities in the country to a small farm-like town with about a 6-hour drive west of all my pot-smoking friends.
Some kids get nervous about moving to a new place; I wasn’t nervous, but I was ready to fight ’cause that’s kind of what you did to stay alive at my old school.
Some cool kids hate new kids and this is just how it goes sometimes. It sucks to be on the receiving end of cool kid criticism, those cruel sneers and jeers, especially when you move twice every school year and this kind of shit happens day-in and day-out. Add getting jumped to and from school all year long and it’s no wonder I failed every class. Parents call this bullying; kids call it just being an asshole. Sadly, ‘telling someone’ doesn’t change anything.
Popular Blonde Girl
There was this Popular Blonde Girl in this new school who sang soprano in choir class and played the piano. She “had private lessons at home since she was like, four.” She said this a hundred times a day in third period, whenever someone, everyone, smothered her with praise.
Popular Blonde Girl was super pretty. Everybody liked her. She looked like she just jumped out of a movie with her long flowy-bouncy hair and her perfect, bright, white teeth; always smiling, well, fake smiling; like a good actress.
Popular Blonde Girl dated cute Popular Rich Boy, never wore the same outfit twice and wasn’t shy about letting me know that she did not approve of my wardrobe.
“OHMYGAWWWD! Your shoes!” she screeched.
I also looked like an actress from the movies, but it was more like Olivia Newton-John in Grease after she morphed into that hussy with the skin-tight black pants and a cigarette in her hand. Oh, and with darker hair.
Her words sounded alarming, so I looked down at my dirty converse sneakers thinking, maybe I stepped in some nasty gum or something. Nope; no gum.
“You should be ashamed to be seen in public!”
I looked up just in time to see the whole god damn cafeteria staring at me. O_o
“Your Mom let you out of the house like that?!”
I froze, dropped my lunch tray and that school pizza we all love so much, and booked it the hell out of there. I skipped the remainder of the school day. I skipped the next few days, too.
“I had already seen a lot of what eventually became a really hard life.”
I felt different from the other kids. Even at the other schools that I went to, I didn’t feel like I belonged there, had a hard time making friends, didn’t apply myself (blah-blah-blah; sounds so lame), but I hadn’t quite experienced this. I had already seen a lot of what eventually became a really hard life, but this officially introduced me to what I call The Shame Monkey.
It wasn’t Popular Blonde Girl’s fault, really, but more to do with what was swimming around in my head before and after this interaction with her. See, monkeys aren’t random, they spawn from stuff that’s already in us. What happens outside of us just triggers them, like feeding a Mogwai after midnight (Gremlins, 1984, Warner Bros.).
Of course, this is hindsight, but that’s why I’m sharing it with you.
The truth, that I never would’ve admitted at that time, was that I admired Popular Blonde Girl. The very moment that the shame monkey was triggered, I was aware that this sparkling, Perfect-A, Perfect-10, Jazz, Tap, & Ballet Princess was everything that I could never be. I wanted so desperately to know what it was like, to see how easy it was; to be her. I just knew that if I could be like her, not like me, it would end my torture and I would finally be happy. This belief sank in deep, to my detriment; almost my suicide.
“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable
with yourself.” ― Mark Twain
Dirty Converse Sneakers
“Dirty Converse Sneakers” is my entire collection of writing that has to do with facing the shame monkey and experiencing complete self-acceptance. It’s also the title of my upcoming memoir. It happens to be the title of this website because I had to fight that monkey again when I launched my writing business.
Every time I sat down to write, revise a copy, or whenever I thought about someone reading my work, the shame monkey jumped in to stop me. He succeeded.
For a long time, I was a writer who wouldn’t write.
So, I put the most significant reminder of shame and of how I later punched that little bastard in the face, in big letters at the top of my web page so I would force myself to face it.
I have a huge collection of Converse. Yes, my favorite ones – the white ones that are full of sand from sixteen different beaches, the black and pink ones that are all greasy on the left toe from the gear-shift of my motorcycle; the ones I just can’t live without- are the ones that are dirty.
I no longer live in fear of what people think of me. I no longer waste precious time weighing my own worth on how I compare to others or make decisions by forecasting, first, how people could or would react. I no longer seek to gain approval and it’s fricken awesome. I created this site to share these secrets with you!
I’m No Longer Ashamed.
I’m not ashamed of the mistakes I’ve made that gave me opportunities to learn painful, yet transformative, lessons about myself.
I’m no longer ashamed. I use every bit of it to help people, just like you.
Today, I am a writer who isn’t ashamed to write – or have you read it.
I hope my writing encourages you as you fight your own battles to freedom from the things that chase you and cling to you. I got your back in your war against your monkeys. I’m so glad you’re here. I’m here with you; if you need me.
Xo – Mia