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Everybody Else’s Girl by Tamra Wade

Everybody Else’s Girl
By Tamra Wade

It’s very hard to know who you are when so many others want to tell you who you should be.

 

As women, we often exist in a strange tug of war between what others want us to be and what we want for ourselves. Our families, our friends, societal expectations, and media bombard us with messages that don’t always support all facets of what we want or what we can be.

It is very easy to complacently be everybody else’s girl.

If you have known me long enough, you already know Tori Amos is and has been a big part of my recovery. In the early 90’s she was all over MTV with her album Little Earthquakes and her PSAs for RAINN, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.

In interviews, she was the first person I had ever seen to look straight into the camera and very unapologetically profess that she was a survivor of sexual assault. In my eyes, she was a hero. She had the courage I desired to have. She gave a face to others like me. She gave voice to my pain. She offered me hope in a very tumultuous time in my life.

I was just coming out of an inpatient hospital stay working on depression, anxiety and recovery from my own sexual abuse. In those days no one talked about childhood sexual abuse, rape, incest or any other ways that women are harmed. I, and people like me, suffered silently and alone. Tori Amos is one of the first public women to share so unabashedly and so transparently what had happened to her.

Her music is laced with female empowerment and at times the blatant story telling of her rape (Me and Gun). Needless to say, Little Earthquakes ranks in my top three of all time best collections of songs. I am forever grateful and profoundly changed by her, her efforts and her music.

One song on Little Earthquakes I have had on repeat lately is Girl, and the entire CD really, but I want to focus on this song for a moment because of what I see in the world around me and in myself. Girl is a request to belong to yourself and block out the influences of everybody else, Tori explains in,  Rolling Stone: Tori Amos’ Track-to-Track Guide to Little Earthquakes (December 18, 2009)

 

“[Girl] It’s not an aggressive fight. It’s an internal fight, that when you need other people’s approval, when you walk in a room, you’re everybody’s — or anybody’s — girl. When you don’t need that anymore, [it’s] because you have an understanding and an agreement with yourself on who you want to be. And when I say ‘who you want to be,’ that’s going to evolve. But at least you’ve got to get your palette, your paint, your canvas, and say, ‘I’m not choosing to tell this story, which is doing anything to have success.’ I don’t want that kind of success.”

She goes on to say,

“[‘Girl’] was being clear with myself that I didn’t want that. Didn’t need that. Because what I was achieving really hadn’t been done in that way, because folk women were being embraced. There was a style for them. But straddling the piano and making the piano a viable instrument with songs being built around it, that was gone since the Carole King days. This was a very different thing because this wasn’t the blues/R&B approach. And Kate Bush was much more electronica. And so, I knew then, that I had a big fight ahead of me. And that I couldn’t be anybody’s; I had to be my own.”

It is very easy to forget who you are. It is very easy to let peer influences sneak in and change who you are. In some cases, those peer influence can be amazing when you are surrounded by people who support you and desire the best for you. But what happens when you are around people who don’t have your best interests at heart?

These peer influences, social expectations, and family pressures can begin to take their toll.

When I am struggling with who I am and what I want from my life, I am reminded of this song and of Tori’s words. I am not crazy. I know what I want. I know who I am. Other’s opinions of me don’t matter. And, yes, maybe one day I will be my own. Most days I am.

”…I had to then look at my part in the misrepresentation of my soul, and how I pulled the trigger.” ~ Tori Amos

 

Girl
Tori Amos
© Sword & Stone (1992)

from in the shadow she calls
and in the shadow she
finds a way finds a way
and in the shadow she CRAWLS
clutching her faded photograph
my IMAGE under her thumb
yes with a message for my heart
yes with a message for my heart

she’s been everybody else’s girl
maybe one day she’ll be her own
everybody else’s girl
maybe one day she’ll be her own

and in the doorway they stay
and laugh as violins fill with water
screams from the BLUEBELLS
can’t make them go away
we’ll I’m not seventeen
but I’ve cuts on my knees
falling down as the winter
takes one more CHERRY TREE

she’s been everybody else’s girl
maybe one day she’ll be her own
everybody else’s girl
maybe one day she’ll be her own

everyone else’s girl
maybe one day she’ll be her own
everyone else’s girl
maybe one day she’ll be her own
everyone else’s girl
maybe one day maybe one day
one day she’ll be her own
(rushin’ rivers
thread so thin limitation
dreams with the flying pigs
turbid blue and the drugstores too safe in
their coats and in their do’s yeah
smother in our hearts a pillow to my dots)
One day maybe one day she’ll be her own

and in the mist there she rides
and castles are burning in my heart
and as I twist I hold tight
and I ride to work
every morning wondering why
“sit in the chair and be good now”
and become all that they told you
the white coats enter her room
and I’m callin’ my baby
callin’ my baby callin’ my baby callin’
everybody else’s girl
maybe one day she’ll be her own
everybody else’s girl
maybe one day she’ll be her own
everybody else’s girl maybe one day she’ll be her own

 

 

Hello! My name is Tamra Wade I am the founder and president of Paper Hope. Paper Hope is an official Arizona based 501c3 dedicated to servicing women and girls. We provide life skill in the form of workshops, meet ups, round table, panel discussions and online goodness on our blog. No topic is off limits. Paper Hope helps women of all ages have the confidence to live authentic lives.

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