Gone in a Scarlett whirlwind
When I was 12-13 my mother gave me a book, “Gone with the wind”, the cover had the famous image of Vivien Leigh as a beautiful Scarlett in her green ball gown with a cheeky smile. I think I was hooked immediately, engulfed is a better word.
Living in a modern semi-detached in small town France the story offered such escapism, exotic delights, and I often swept down the stairs in an imaginary hoop crinoline. Then I saw the film: the architecture, the scenery, the music, all the details I needed to finalise the image in my mind.
From the beginning I was Team Scarlett, how could you not be? She was beautiful, loved by a cheeky prince who always saved the day, she had adventures and came out on top (most of the time) often by challenging the norm. Team Melanie was for the bland, boring, conservative girls, the ones who were ‘niiiice’. Not me, oh no, my hope in life was to kick ass.
I grew up and without realising I ended up taking several leaves off Miss Sca’lett’s book.
I am Scarlett
I made resilience my middle-name, I wasn’t the cleverest at school but I pushed for certain academic choices (against my teachers’ will) because I knew it was right for my future and I succeeded.
Aged 21 I went studying abroad, did some unpleasant jobs to make sure I didn’t call on the bank of mum and dad. In my first job after graduating my boss (ex-army) called me a ‘task-master’, I didn’t know the meaning and when I found out I was pleased as he wasn’t the kind of person I looked up to, I could do better & I left (oh Scarlett who’d have been so proud).
I was driven in my career and climbed up the ladder, I was respected by both male & female colleagues, was I liked? maybe or maybe not, didn’t matter. I even became stronger physically and I gave birth to my second child at home, always in control, always in charge. I’d like to think that if you’d given me a burned down Tara I would have put it back to its former glory in no time. I was Scarlett.
There were only 2 things where I didn’t follow in Scarlett’s footsteps: first I didn’t use my looks to get ahead (well I was Scarlett in my head not by my looks to be honest) and secondly I didn’t get the whole Ashley thing, even aged 12 I could see she was mixing up teenage crush with true love and wasting her time in the process.
I never thought about my Scarlett persona until a couple of years ago when the Psychologist I was seeing (clue: all is not that swell in my Gone With the Wind dream life) repeatedly called me a ‘warrior’ and invited me to remove my armour and check out what was underneath. I was dumbstruck. I was not wearing an armour, it was just the uniform required to get out there and …fight…Wait a minute …could it be…no, I’m just like every other woman, in this world there is no other choice, no? Psychologist smiled her psychologist smile and told me to give it a try.
Taking off the armour (or crinoline)
For a start, let’s be clear that I’ve never been as selfish or self-centered as Scarlett, I respect others and treat them fairly. One for Team Melanie, without even trying!
Now you mention it I am compassionate I just hide it behind sarcasm and irony in case someone thinks I am weak, you cannot show any weakness, bad. Uncovering my compassionate self has major side effects, suddenly I am no longer so sure I should sacrifice that employee on the altar of “improved productivity” and my career progression (think Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men,“a good manager is able to take difficult decisions”). Maybe I can accept this employee’s differences and see what she could bring to the team rather than purely see the situation through the eyes of the profit number.
And I have a secret, I believe that children are mind-blowingly interesting if I allow myself to take off my heels and engage with them rather than reach for the wine. Although I’d cut my own arm and eat it before I’d digress from my usual: “all that kids stuff is ok for middle-class stay-at-home mums, I have got important things to do, don’t you know?” or “and don’t get me started on part-time working mothers, why is it always the women sacrificing their career?” You get the picture.
It’s Christmas I decide to take all the holidays I’m due, to hell with “it’s great to work between Christmas and New Year, it’s quieter, you can sort all your files and plan the coming months bla bla”. And I have a B-L-A-S-T, what did I do? spent time with my children and husband, visited a few Christmas markets, did a bit of crafting, cooking, some baking, how do you call that again?….home-making?! OMG, now that’s going too far, Scarlett a home-maker? Never. Melanie on the other hand….
Could it be that I am Team Melanie?
– Melanie is loving and caring. Not only to her family but she’s also a loyal friend and is keen to care for those in need.
– Melanie is full of gratitude and openly thanks and praise others (much to Scarlett’s irritation). Gratitude in itself is a blessing and to be grateful for who you are & what you have brings immense joy.
– Melanie is resilient, we forget it because she doesn’t show that same “force of nature” that Scarlett has. Melanie shows us an alternative where you do not need to be a fighter, Melanie’s resilience is borne out of love rather than fear.
– Melanie is not prejudiced and is will break conventions for what she believes in, remember her interaction with Belle Watling, she defies conventions and does it so publicly she leaves Scarlett speechless. – Melanie is not judgmental, despite everything Scarlett does she remains open & kind. This is probably the hardest one to emulate for me, after years of judging others and myself, but I am committed as I see the liberation it brings to the mind. Today I’m more mindful of my thoughts and always try to stop judgemental thoughts and reframe the situation in my mind.
– Melanie is educated & well-read whilst Scarlett shows little interest in all things cultural. Although that gut-instinct that makes up pretty much all of Scarlett persona has served me well I also need to widen my horizons through books and the arts. I believe it feeds your spirit and enables the love, care, gratitude, resilience and the lack of prejudices.
I am not turning my back on Scarlett as I believe things happen for a reason: I needed to be Scarlett to develop & grow during a part of my life. The key is to understand that we are multi-faceted and we evolve throughout our life. Buddha says that no conditioned things are permanent therefore how can we expect to fulfil our potential if we don’t accept the fact that we change as the world changes around us. I’m entering a new chapter where I feel that Team Melanie will serve me better.
hmm, those curtains would make a rather fetching suit, don’t you think…
What about you, are you Team Scarlett or Team Melanie? or which heroine are you?
Some links you may like:
If you haven’t read “Gone with the wind” yet, read it NOW: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18405.Gone_with_the_Wind?from_search=true
If you are Team Scarlett, this blogspot is for you: http://misadventureswithandi.com/2009/12/7-things-scarlett-ohara-taught-me-about-life.html
The biography of Margaret Mitchell, the author of “Gone with the wind” is really interesting too: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/293322.Road_to_Tara