Wednesday, June 18, 2008

To Speak or not to Speak...That is the Question

Have a little debate going on in my head. Well not so much my head as between my husband and I and now on the blog.

My husband is not very happy with this whole publicity thing around my book. He is really excited with the book and the fact that I'm an author but he's afraid of all the speaking arrangements and the public appearances.

He claims that even though I'm passing myself off as a young spunky stinker kid of speaker, the fact that I will get up in front of dinner crowds and speak in public will automatically cause people to expect more of me as a person. He thinks that I will be forced to change some aspects of my life to fit a certain image that people will have of me from now on.

I keep saying that it isnt true and that even as a speaker I'm not hiding who I am, but he insists that now if I walk out in a badanna or a slinky skirt, or take my son to the beach, people might look down on me, sort of expecting more.

So that's our disagreement. I wonder if he has a point. I'm sure some aspect of it is right- people are going to view me differently, they already are. But I wonder if I will really have to change my lifestyle for it and if I dont, will it have a negative affect.

It's not like I don't practice what I preach- and it's not like I'm speaking about Torah topics that turn me into a rebbetzin- I just talk about what I know- Cancer and my experience.

Does he have a valid point? Do I have to start watching my back from now on and start dressing my kid in only Jacadi outfits to stop people from avoiding my speeches because my kid only wears Old Navy?

Opinions please!


Tzvi Meir & Ayala said...

He definitely has a point. He doesn't want you to change for other people. i think that if it doesn't bother you that people will see you at the beach in a bandanna, then who cares?you dont have to change to please other people. please dont!

Anonymous said...

Wow, reading this, I'm sooo glad I don't live in NY! It kind of reminds me of shidduchim - people aren't themselves because they're afraid of what people will say. And it's not just the people in the parsha - I actually heard one father who married off his last daughter say that he was so happy that finally now he can be himself and go back to being a sports fanatic and wearing shorts when he works out!
Perhaps your husband is afraid HE will have to "change" to meet "standards," and is just projecting those fears onto you. Since when have you cared what people thought of you if you chose to express your individuality, which may not have fit conventions of BoroPark culture but which are halachically acceptible? Could it be that somehow you took subconscious comfort in the fact that "yeah, I do things my way, but I can get away with it because I'm sick" and now that you aren't sick, you cannot use illness as an "excuse" to be different? Don't take this the wrong way - my point is, if more people thought and acted more independently, we would have a much healthier and happier Jewish population, because we all know that few people fit into a box. Our students would be happier, shidduchim / shalom bayis would be better, etc etc. - this goes such a long way into so many aspects of daily life. The fact that we live in so judgmental a culture is a failure of the judge, not the one being judged. It reflects a total insecurity of self when we look at others before we look at ourselves from within. Let's correct our own shortcomings before we work on others'. You're not a saint, you're not perfect... but either am I! I will say that after several years of being married, your number one priority is Shalom Bayis. So work this out together... without input from yentas like me and anyone else on the blog. It's not what we say that matters - it's what you and your husband work out together.

halfshared said...

I really don't agree. If you were lecturing on tznius, then I can hear where he'd be coming from. The topic that you are talking about has nothing to do with wearing a bandana or taking your son to the beach. I totally wouldn't expect more of a speaker just because they speak.

mikimi said...

I see your hubby's point and maybe speak to your Rebbe or Rav for an eitza. You are you and shouldn't have to change your essence. However there is what to be said for Shalom Bayis. Following your heart and harmony in your home - melding the two of them together is the hardest challenge. But you can do it.

itsagift said...

You are making a point - when someone speaks publically, even if they don't speak about tznius, people look at them and view them as, sort of like a role model.
Tzipi (I can't use your real name here so excuse me please), once you go out to the public, people look at you differently. They look at you as someone who went through a hardship and became an unbelievable person through it. They look up to you for what you become but I don't think they'll expect you to look and dress like a rebbetzin!! If you wanted to, you can always speak in willi and dress up with a shpitzel and seams LOL!! But seriously speaking, you have to feel comfortable with where you are and decide to be the person you are and dress the way you are because you feel it is the RIGHT thing to do, not because you are going out there and speaking in public. Of course, you have to be sensitive and understanding to your crowd and I know you will - you are not the kind of person who will dress in the wrong way when you speak in public!!
When you are doing your own thing (going on a trip will your husband and JB), you don't have to worry about what other people will say about how you look. I know you well enough to say that you always look good, fine's not like when you go out and speak you'll wear a mid-length skirt and then when you go out on your own you'll walk around in shorts and a t-shirt are a good girl/woman/author and you will do what is right anyway, without worrying about what other people think and say!!
Just remember, that once you go out there and speak all over, people will notice you and they look up to and respect someone who went through so much...and the main thing is to pass on that chizuk and amazing attitude you have!!

anon friend said...

sorry to burst the bubble of the previous commentators....but Im guessing the places asking you to speak are frum (what you would consider frum) places and do you know why they are asking you??? Because you are a FRUM young girl who has been through cancer (and been published by Artscroll which confirms your credibility to them). Do you think they would invite in a much, much more modern type who had been through cancer? Or even invite you if you had been published by Yashar books? (I not chas v'sholom saying anything about them just giving an example of a less mainstream publisher!)
There ARE expectations unfortnately...and its not as simple as everyone puts it. They are looking for you to speak about how your emunah pulled you through and the hashgacha and the amazing community- rebbitzen style, with some humour chucked in.
I have no doubt you'd be a fantastic speaker and I really hope you do speak! But it does come with responsibility.

Bas~Melech said...

He does have a point. It may not ultimately influence your decision, but having it in mind will help you decide how you want to deal with whichever decision you make.

Zach Kessin said...

Be yourself, let the chips fall as they will. The world will get over it if you don't conform 100%.

Anonymous said...

why are you using a fake name if you will be speaking in public and everyone will see you anyway?

Anonymous said...

yeah anon's right whats your real name.why didnt you show pictures of your face from the book signing.

The Babysitter said...

wow, I just found your blog reading through Bas Melach's and I saw the picture of your baby and recognized him. Its amazing that you wrote a book. I remember you told me that you had spoken in my high school once, but this is a whole nother level.

Your husband has a point, but I wouldn't be worried about it. If anything you being the way you are can make it easier for people to relate to you. That your just like the rest of us, and if you could accomplish so much then so can they and they'll be able to gain from it.

Congratulations on writing your book!

Miss Teacher said...

Of course he has a valid point! He cares way more about you than any listener in any audience and he's looking far beyond the thrill of what's happening right now...

Anonymous said...

He certainly does have a point, and even though your book isn't, for example, about Tznius, people will expect you to go around looking right. It isn't right and it isn't fair, but that's the way the world works. The fact that you wrote a book about a personal experience already puts you in a very public position where people expect things of you.

StillinShidduchim said...

I'm with your husband. Once you're a name in the frum world, there will be certain expectations for you and yours. You're wading in dangerous territory. You put your chizuk out there through your might be time for you to step back now and fade into normal life.

Anonymous said...

He's your husband right?
He knows you better than all of us anonymous commenters who have nothing invested in you right?
He ultimately cares about you and your welfare much more than all of us who have nothing but opinions that we then move on from right?
Why then should our opinions be placed next to his? You and he need to come to some kind of decision together without the noise created by commenters. You two need to figure out what works for you, not what works for us.

Zeeskeit said...

I sooo understand this. In 12th grade I was elected GO President of our small school. I wasn't dying for the position, but in my humble apinion I did a gr8 job. Then one day I was sent to the principal for talking in class, and I got the "You're-GO-everyone-looks-up-to-you" speech, to which I responded with "I didn't ask for the job, and if you think I'm not qualified b/c I spoke in class, then give it to someone else. She had a point though, about being thrust into a position and the responsiblites which accompany it.

However, I think the main thing is to be honest with yourself. You must feel that the things you do/wear are the right things. If some others think it's not enough for them you don't have to change for them. Everyone must do what they are up to. Taking on chumros because "s'past nisht" (excuse the Yiddish - for lack of a better expression) is not being honest.

I think that people must realize not to judge who ppl are by what wear/do. The fact that you wear a slinky skirt or take your kid to the beach doesn't detract from the experience you went through and how it affected you/your emunah and bitachon.

So, "You go girl!" Speak to your heart's content - You can make a difference to many ppl out there!

Riva Pomerantz said...

Hi Tzipi!

I came across your blog kind of by accident and your posting was a touch of deja vu for me, too. I'm a writer with name recognition and I am always amazed and somewhat aghast to discover readers' expectations of who I really am in real life. In fact, I just posted to my brand new infant blog on that topic this morning! You can check it out if you'd like,

There comes a point in everyone's life--famous, unfamous, or infamous (!) where they must make a decision about who they are and integrate it with how they would like others to see them.

I just did a video presentation for Bikur Cholim of Montreal and I totally freaked out about how they would react to seeing how I look. Would they think I looked too modern? My sheitel is too long? My eyeshadow is too glitzy? There's a lot that goes into it. But I think the big news is that we can't always meet people's expectations. Just read the other day that an expectation is a resentment in training :-)

Your blog is great!


Riva Pomerantz