There was always a bad boy in school and I wanted him. This was the fantasy of my youth.
I wanted these bad boys to be my boyfriend and I wanted to turn them good.
I never had the chance to carry my fantasy through, but it never quite left me. Years later, I discovered the deeper meaning of this fantasy and what it means about Femininity, Masculinity, and the Divine Dance…we all crave in our lives, our relationships, and our work.
An interesting and eye-opening event transpired the other day in the corner of my favorite coffee shop.
A peculiar group of mixed ages and appearances was huddled where I normally sat, so I choose the powder blue leather couch instead, not realizing how this left me facing the group head on.
The young man of the group was sulking low in his seat and backed into a corner by the three adults. Dressed in black with unkempt long hair, he struck me as the ‘typical’ teenage type as he didn’t make much eye contact with the adults. They were clearly talking more about him than to him.
The energy of their conversation continued to escalate as I heard the words “last chance to pass”, “acid”, and “take off your door.”
And I’m sitting there thinking, ‘They are going to remove his door! What does that even mean?’
As a parent, I could sympathize with his fearful mother and his frantic, passive father, but I couldn’t see how this was the solution.
The young man suddenly exploded with rage as much as could still be mostly acceptable in a quiet coffee shop, “Why do people take drugs? To feel better!”
In that moment, there was no common ground. The adults saw no way but more force and more control. The young man saw no way but to try harder than ever to break free of their constraints.
I noticed that there was something deep and soulful about this young man's eyes. He had that just shaggy enough to be mysterious hair and a youthful energy about him. At that moment I realized, he was the Bad Boy!
My school girl fantasy came flooding back.
I could feel him. I could see him. And it was like I knew him.
Misunderstood…Stereotyped…Sooo intelligent he’s bored out of his mind…Sooo creative he almost can’t express it all. Such a perfectionist, he’s decided to turn to the one thing he can never get wrong…being bad. He was clearly frustrated, angry, defensive, and checked out of the box of these adults…two of which appeared to be his parents and one I presumed to be his school counselor.
The pain he was feeling was palpable in the air and the weight of his struggle felt suffocating.
I could see the potential, the perceptiveness, and the wisdom inside of him. Something made me want to interrupt the conversation just long enough to tell his parents that he was strong and capable…and that he could do it, he would make it. I wanted to tell him that he didn't have to conform. He might have to survive school, but after that, he could do wildly amazing things that would change the world.
I wondered if he was an artist or if he loved music. What did he like to learn about or read about when he wasn't force-fed education? What set his soul on fire? Who was he? What did he want out of life?
In these moments, the emotions that welled up inside of me sent me back to the times in high school when I'd see the Bad Boy outside of school…rebellion seeping from his pores.
He didn't give a fuck! As the Good Girl, with the good grades, making sure not to do anything wrong…he was my polar opposite.
There was this freedom about him, but also a sort of bondage. I wanted to join him and release him at the same time.
Yep, I was the way-too-good-girl. Straight A’s. Hometown pageant queen. Cheerleader. Rule follower. Bawled my eyes out when the teacher scolded me. Bawled my eyes out when my band instructor threatened my perfect GPA with an A-. Seriously Steena, get over yourself!
I was the perfectionist who chose another path. I chose the one thing I thought I could never fail at…being good. Honestly, I liked it that way. I liked doing things well. I liked being celebrated. But then I grew up and realized that being the good girl wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I realized I craved that Bad Boy because he was part of me already. My inner masculine, my Animus, my male psyche. We humans all have a male and female psyche and both must be developed in order to keep ourselves safe and able to experience the fullness of this life.
The daring, courageous, don’t-give-a-fuck-ness within me was just waiting, crouched in a corner of my psyche, ready to be unleashed and used to its fullest potential.
As a grown woman, I’ve seen that doing things well and celebrating myself according to my soul does not equate to doing things the ‘right way’ according to anyone else. I had to forge my own path and find my own truth.
I've come to know that I am simply human and that even the good girls need a little bad.
I've watched the ‘right way’ crumble before me into the trash of reality. I've seen how my best efforts have failed me and how I've been left with empty hands and a grieving heart. Even though I’ve wanted more in my life, I’ve come to realize there's more to life than perfection.
Living in perfection had me hiding my pain. It felt like I could only be one or the other, good or bad. I had chosen my side and had to maintain my facade. I discovered that the Bad Boys I fantasized about were wearing their pain, failure, and shadow like a badge instead of hiding it.
When I sat in that coffee shop feeling the tension of the conversation about this ‘failing’ young man, I wanted him to know he wasn’t alone and that it was safe for him to show his full soul. That being good and doing things well and being celebrated didn’t mean he had to live the way everyone else wanted him to, he probably already knew that. Those thoughts were most likely more for me than they were for him.
I know I couldn't have saved him in the minutes he and I crossed paths, but I hope that he does save himself. I hope he finds the feeling of wanting himself, doing something well, and celebrating his brilliant badness. I learned an important lesson that day, I could be all of myself with reckless abandon and live a fuller and richer life for it. And that both of us were going to have to forge our own paths.