When I was growing up, every girl I knew wanted to be Wonder Woman and just about every boy I knew wanted to be her boyfriend, or at the very least, stare at the poster of her all day long. We worshipped the Lynda Carter version of WW, decked out in her fancy strapless super hero bathing suit, golden lasso, crown like head piece and of course her super power metallic bracelets. I can so clearly remember standing in my childhood friend’s backyard holding up my crisscrossed wrists over my face imagining that my pretend Wonder Woman bracelets were shielding off whatever bad guy stuff was being thrown at me. I felt powerful and strong- like I could stand up to anyone, be anyone, do anything and everything.
Flash forward 35 years later as I regularly wear a bracelet that resembles Wonder Woman’s own protective wrist gear. It’s an oversized gold leather braided bracelet hand made by the super talented artists at Satchel in Savannah, Georgia. My Wonder Woman like aunt, who is a regular customer at Satchel, bought me this bracelet on a recent visit to her adopted hometown. We had so much fun watching the ladies at Satchel stitch together truly beautiful and unique leather bracelets, bags and more on their industrial sewing machines right out on the boutique floor. Like Wonder Woman herself, the ladies at Satchel exhibit some serious no nonsense girl power in the work they do.
I wear the bracelet a lot because it’s cool and funky. It’s a statement piece for sure, but at the same time goes with a lot of my favorite every day items in my closet and jewelry box. It’s been named my Wonder Woman bracelet by a few friends and family members who almost always have an observant comment about some of my choice accessories.
When I wear the bracelet these days, I still feel strong and powerful like I did in the pretend Wonder Woman days of my youth, but I am keenly aware of the fact that I am no longer playing dress up. I cannot and do not pretend to be Wonder Woman. I have tried to be her in the past, and I can honestly say I have failed. I have tried to be all things to all people. I have tried to do everything at once. I have tried to be in more than one place at a time whether literally or figuratively, and I ended up being nowhere at all.
I worked with a woman a long time ago who actually called me Wonder Woman as she watched me race down the hallway to turn in a project and then race right back to my office to get started right away on the next one. I was amused by her nickname for me especially when she called it out in her thick Eastern European accent. Another woman I later worked with told me that I should always be in a little bit over my head. That is some of the best advice I have ever received. But the thing that I’ve learned is that there is a fine line between being in just a little bit over your head and being in so deep you feel like you are drowning.
When my first book came out almost 10 years ago, I daydreamed about getting an invitation to Oprah Winfrey’s couch. As I would walk on her set, Oprah would give me her trademark double high five and shout out my name “RACHEL LEVY LESSER” just like Liz Lemon hoped she would in one my favorite 30 Rock episodes. Clearly Oprah would ask me what I knew for sure, and I would share with her my thoughts on this unattainable Wonder Woman phenomenon explaining how I learned that I couldn’t be everything to everyone all the time. In my imaginary talk show episode, Oprah would nod her head in contemplative agreement as I spoke.
Like Oprah, Liz Lemon, and Wonder Woman, I am a feminist. I believe in girl power, and I believe that any and every little girl should believe in herself and work hard to achieve her dreams, no matter how big or small. I tell my daughter and my son that all the time. But I also believe that each individual needs to do what’s right for her or him at each and every stage of life with all those unexpected twists and turns that inevitably happen along the way.
It’s a tricky balance between achieving those dreams and living within the confines of your own reality. It’s one I still work at all the time. Sometimes I’ve got it and sometimes I so don’t. But I keep on trying. I guess that’s all anyone can do, even Wonder Woman, even with those amazingly powerful metallic bracelets.