It started as a college joke. My dormmate decided that if we were television characters, she would be Laura Petrie from the Dick Van Dyke Show, and I would be her gabby, busybody neighbor, Millie Helper. My roommate would be Sally, the man-hungry comedy writer. The joke faded, but the nickname Millie stuck.
As nicknames go, it’s not the end of the world. In defense of my friend, she was being hyperbolic rather than malicious when she made the comparison. Still, being told you resemble a less pretty, nosey dork stung. Especially since other iterations included Erica Kane’s less pretty, afterthought of a sister, Silver Kane.*
Now logically, I know I’m not a gabby busybody, ( I prefer the terms loquacious and curious) and that as looks go, I’ve aged as attractively as my college friends. However, knowing something and internalizing it are two different things. Somewhere along the line, with a little help from poor childhood esteem, my identity embraced Millie Helper. In other words, a core part of me came to believe I was dorky and second-rate.
That is why Millie Helper must die.
I have a college who, through no fault of her own, can make me feel small. I walk away from our conversations feeling as though she considered me less accomplished and not quite on her level. I have no proof other than my own interpretation of our interactions. However, if does think herself on a higher plain, I have only myself to blame. I’ve allowed my inner Millie to paint me in a poor light.
What do I mean? I mean, I’ve acted like I was second-rate. I’ve downplayed and disregarded my accomplishments, acted overly meek and modest, and basically, underplayed my abilities. Worse, I’ve allowed my insecurities to become too vocal. There’s a fine line between vulnerability and whining, and I’ve crossed it many times.
What I didn’t do was exude confidence. How could anyone believe I was equal to them when I, at every opportunity, implied that I wasn’t?
Well, no more. If I want to be treated as first-rate, I need to shake off my second-rate alter-ego. Millie Helper is done I am declaring her dead and gone. Or at least bound and gagged. A funeral notice is pending.
* All My Children, circa 1983. Erica’s clumsy sister Silver came to town with the intent of taking over Erica’s glamorous life.