I really try to be nice.
I mean, I created an entire t-shirt collection for Every Ella based upon the idea of BEING NICE. One literally says BE NICE. Another says NICE GIRLS. I am TEAM NICE, possibly even TEAM NICE captain!
(I have very little athletic ability and am confident this is the only thing I'll ever be team captain of, so please indulge me).
From the very start of Every Ella, I knew I wanted to create a collection to unite girls and celebrate sisterhood. Something that said, "Hey, I'm not a threat. I will be your friend. You are safe with me. I'm nice." Because girl-hate is very real and something I've personally experienced.
Here's the thing though… girl-hate isn't something we're born with. It's something we're born into.
From the second a girl makes her way through the birth canal, she's immediately registered into 'the catty competition' without consent. She's taught that her appearance is more valuable than her mind and her sexuality is what gets her noticed. She has to be the prettiest, the coolest, the funniest, the smartest, the skinniest and the queen of everything, because this is a competition. She points out the flaws in others in hopes that she'll feel better about herself.
Sure, there are exceptions… but not nearly enough. So that brings me back to the The "Nice Girls" collection. I was working full-time as a stand-in on a TV show to pay my bills and fund Every Ella. During my down time, I worked on the new collection. My partner and I came up with various shirt sayings such as, "Be Nice" , "Let's Be Friends" , "Nice Girls" and "I Care."
So much NICENESS going on in my head.
I was even reevaluating my current female friendships and rethinking past ones; brainstorming ways I could be more supportive, more loving, more encouraging and a better friend with nothing but genuine and pure intentions. My mind was in a constant, sparkly, girl power swirl. Hearts. Kisses. Smiles. Hugs. I LOVE GIRLS!
And that brings me to… a beautiful Friday morning on set.
Mmm… Friday. Who isn't in a good mood on Friday? Plus, it's sunny and warm. My favorite. We just finished shooting a beautiful scene in Venice and are on the move to the next location.
I hop in a van with the other stand-in girl. We'll call her Jennifer. It was my first time meeting Jennifer, but we really hit it off. Right before the driver cranks on the van, another girl opens the door and jumps in. Just in the nick of time. She's the 2nd/2nd AD (Assistant Director). It's just the first week on the show, so I don't know her well. But we've said hello a few times and I've been nothing by friendly. I'm in sparkly, girl power love mode, remember?
Jennifer and I are having a comical discussion in the van about where we sleep when our significant others are out of town and we're all alone. I sleep on the couch with the TV on. She's in the bedroom but has a knife under her pillow. We're being silly and ridiculous and it's fun. Gosh, I love girls.
And in the midst of laughter with Jennifer, I look over and see the other girl, the 2nd/2nd AD, sitting quietly. Let's call her Molly. Molly hasn't chimed into our conversation, but I want her to know that she can. I want her to feel included. In an effort to be a NICE GIRL, I make eye contact, offer a smile and begin to talk...
Big mistake. HUGE!
(in a very Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman, way)
Before I finish getting the sentence out, she looks me in the eyes and goes in for the kill...
"I've been listening to your conversation, and I'm not sure if you're aware, but you say LIKE a lot. And it makes you sound really… young and dumb. You should start listening to yourself more closely, so you can stop doing it."
OH. HELL. NO.
Jennifer and I sit in silence. Time stood still. Wait. Did this girl just try me like that? I went from NICE GIRL to I WANT TO 'LIKE' PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE so hard. I was in shock. I wanted to vomit all of the obscenities going through my head in that moment, but I also really needed to keep my job. Because, you know, I HAVE TO FUND THE NICE GIRLS COLLECTION. I needed this job.
As much as I want to lash out, I am a firm believer in picking my battles. I know when to bite my tongue and when to kick some ass. So in an effort to not get fired, I calmly look to Jennifer and say,
"Geez, Jennifer. Did you notice that too? Did it bother YOU?"
Jennifer is also in shock. It was truly an awkward moment. But she manages to spit out that she didn't notice or seem bothered. I ended it there. Enough said. Kill them with kindness.
Until… MOLLY OPENS HER MOUTH AGAIN.
She looks at me, and with attitude says, "I hope what I said was okay and didn't offend you." Well, now I have to engage. Now I have to let it out. Now I have to speak my mind. Oof! Don't get fired, Lauren. Don't get fired. I look at her and firmly say,
"Oh, I am fine. By the way, I am highly educated and NOT dumb. I started college at 16 and had my Master's Degree at 21. I worked full time as a legal assistant while obtaining my degree. I own my own business. I also juggle building that business with this full time job and managing my apartment complex, so I can obtain free rent. I'm actually smart. And guess what? I am PERFECTLY fine with the way I talk. You also asked if it was okay to say that. No, it was extremely awkward and out of place."
And that ended that conversation.
I hop off the van with Jennifer and we are both seething. Because honestly, I don't say LIKE a lot. If you ask any of my friends, family, coworkers, ANYONE that talks to me, NONE of them will say that I do. To be accused of something that is simply not true is frustrating and hurtful. It felt like a personal attack. She was judging me without knowing me. She assumed I was a young, ditzy, blonde bimbo. Boy, was she wrong.
After that encounter, we broke for lunch. I ate with a group of people at a table. We were all chatting, laughing and having fun. I looked behind me to see Molly sitting at another table all alone in silence. I'm human, okay? Let's get that out first. I am human and I'm not perfect. Did I find a LITTLE bit of satisfaction watching her eat alone? YES. I'm sorry, but she hurt my feelings. And I was PISSED.
But shortly after, the anger passed and I began to feel bad for Molly. She obviously doesn't have the best communication skills. Maybe she's depressed. Maybe she has confidence issues. Maybe she feels like she never fits in. Maybe she's lonely. Maybe she assumes no one likes her, so she acts out in self defense.
The saddest part? I would have been Molly's friend. On a set where she eats alone everyday for lunch, I would have eaten with her. I would have been her friend.
I didn't become her friend though. Because Molly got fired. Apparently, I wasn't the only one she verbally assaulted.
Maybe I do say 'like' a lot (I don't)… but even if I did, that is okay. Because I would never judge someone based on one silly word. If I'm going to judge someone, it's going to be based on their character - how they treat people, whether they are kind and sincere and if they make the world a better place by being in it. Are they a rapist? Murderer? Abuser? Do they intentionally hurt others and act careless? Those are the things I speak out against.
I would never insult someone over the usage of one, petty word. NEVER. If I must judge, I choose to judge the kindness and love in someone's heart.
So, you know what? If saying the world LIKE is the worst thing I do…
I can LIKE live with that.
I hope you can live with you too, Molly.