Episode 50: Joy of Missing Out

Published May 13, 2016.

Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.

Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.

Aminatou: I'm Aminatou Sow.

Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman.

Aminatou: Okay, so today we're going to be answering one bajillion listener questions because we've been woefully neglecting the inbox and some of these are kind of important.

[Theme Song]

Aminatou: Hi Ann Friedman. How're you feeling?

Ann: You know, I'm on the other side -- almost on the other side of a two-week illness, so I feel very spry. Drinking a fizzy water. Very bubbly.

Aminatou: Wow, you're back in a big way.

Ann: Back in a big way, so yeah.

Aminatou: Yeah. It was touch-and-go. The other day when we talked to you, you sounded like you were dying but you were being such a trooper. I was proud of you.

Ann: I mean it really gives you a new appreciation for life when you haven't been able to breathe through your nose for several weeks. Like that first inhalation through your nose is so dignified and, ugh, relaxing. I love it.

Aminatou: I feel that anybody who listens to this podcast thinks that we're just constantly sick and broken which is also kind of true.

Ann: Although I like that we destroy the stereotype that only old ladies talk about their illnesses and bodies all the time. Like I feel like I just always talk about my illness. [Laughs]

Aminatou: That's like my equivalent of talking about the weather. I'm always like here's everything that's broken in my body right now; what do you need?

Ann: Wait, but is your body broken right now?

(1:50)

Aminatou: No. Surprisingly I am very spry and alert and I feel great.

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: I went to the doctor for a checkup the other day and they were like "All of your illnesses are chilling right now." So I don't know. I feel very powerful right now.

Ann: Ugh, yes. Okay, this is great. Do you feel ready to answer listener questions?

Aminatou: Yes. I say that just as I pop a Ricola because the one thing that is kind of broken with me is that I've had the same cough for a while but it is probably allergies.

Ann: Oh man, I'm . . . last night I broke the I can't drink because I'm sick rule and had one drink and I had to have six Ricola due to a coughing fit immediately after drinking one beer.

Aminatou: Yeah. I'm weirdly very Christian Scientist right now, like no medicine, no booze. I'm feeling great.

Ann: Ricola. Is that acceptable by world religions that ban medicine?

Aminatou: I hope so. Can I say though I love that people write us all the time but you know sometimes when you read these and people are like "I need to make a decision about going to grad school tomorrow. Can you guys get back to me right now?" Those questions really stress me out.

Ann: Yeah, we're not like a deadline hotline.

Aminatou: We're not a deadline hotline. I don't know, it's like for the first time I'm internalizing everybody else's stress and I'm like god, there's a lot of pain in the world right now.

Ann: It's true, but I also think there is something kind of comforting when you actually read a bunch of email in a row and you realize that the people who listen to this show kind of have variations on the same problems. It's both comforting and upsetting. It's like oh, yeah, big problems.

Aminatou: I know. But sometimes also they're really funny and sneaky, right? Like some things will say "I know you answered this exact specific question but here's how it applies to me." [Laughs] And it's always these very vague "I'm 20-something and I don't know what I want to do with my life." And I'm like I don't know, I don't know what I want to do with my life either.

Ann: Call your bestie. Call your therapist. Call your mom. Call your doctor. Call someone who is known to you. Yeah.

(3:52)

Aminatou: Everything, yeah. It's like maybe that'll be the name of my own listener hotline. It'll be like Just Relax.

Ann: Just Relax. Call your therapist.

Aminatou: Call your therapist. Okay, let's start with these. Do you have one you want to start with?

Ann: I don't know. I guess we could do . . . do you want to do friendship first?

Aminatou: For listeners who don't know Ann has organized the vagenda, a.k.a. the vagina agenda, the document that we use to communicate for podcasts, she has arranged it in beautiful listener rubrics and I've just come in and created chaos into her system.

Ann: It's fine. Once an editor, forever an editor. Okay.

Aminatou: I know. I'm like this is beautiful. Okay, the friendship rubric? Sure.

Ann: Oh my god, okay. I'm going to read a question. It begins. "I have a life question that maybe you two could help me with. Hmm, not clear. Okay. I'm a huge fan of shine theory and try to practice it with all my besties. However I'm having a hard time with my first college besties I've lived111 with for the past few years. I'm planning on going to graduate school this fall and while I'm waiting to hear back from schools I am filled with nerves and anxiety, but they have told me it hurts their feelings when I talk about moving out and leaving for grad school. I guess I've made them cry. They've reprimanded me and won't let me vent about how nervous I am for the future. I understand they are reluctant to the idea of long-distance besties but now I just feel like they aren't being supportive at all. I've gone out of my way to put as much effort into our friendships while I still have the chance before I move. How can I ask for a little more support and shine for my dreams while also reciprocating friendship vibes?"

Aminatou: Yo, this is deep.

Ann: Ugh. I feel like we should be talking to her besties and not to her.

Aminatou: I know, she's not the problem. Ugh, okay. I have a very hard line on people who don't want to let you live your dreams or let you go. Like those people are bad for you. That's my hard line as a person who grew up traveling everywhere and having to leave home very young hard line. But, you know, with old age I'm also softening.

(5:45)

Ann: Yeah. I mean also it's one of those things like how is your friendship going to survive beyond college then at all? I hate to break it to you, you're going to graduate at some point. Unless this is an old school with ladies type situation you're not going to be doing this again so you have to figure out a way to transition your friendships sooner or later.

Aminatou: I know, but also just this general idea of not being supportive of your friends at all as they try to explore new things is really harmful and really sad.

Ann: I mean it's hard. It definitely comes from a place of fear which is that when your life changes your friends have different roles in it sometimes. That's true. It's undeniable.

Aminatou: Yeah, no. Like legit the vibe will not be the same. You will not be living in the same house. Your jokes will change. But also guess what? This sort of stuff happens even without people moving around.

Ann: Truth.

Aminatou: One of you getting into some sort of serious relationship. It happens when people have kids. It happens when people get married. It happens when they make new friends.

Ann: Right, or you get sick or you change your major or anything big happens.

Aminatou: I know. Also LOL at the time when changing your major was a big deal.

Ann: Oh my god, I'm trying to empathize. It really was at one point.

Aminatou: No, I mean I guess. [Laughs] I sound like such a jerk. This is the part where I'm softening, right? It's like obviously they're crying because they're sad. You know, I don't like the idea of them reprimanding her and also not creating a space to talk about the future and just avoiding it.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: Because all that means is the day that you do move away, that's kind of the end of something that was there whereas if they share in your anxiety with you then they're also part of the adventure.

Ann: It's so true. It's like sharing in your anxiety about moving is training wheels towards learning how to talk about your feelings in the next phase.

Aminatou: No, totally. I remember when you were moving to L.A. from D.C., and it was still a baby, brand new friendship. It was really nerve-wracking, right? But we talked so much about your job and what you were going to be doing. Actually you didn't even move to L.A. You moved to Austin, duh.

Ann: I know. The lost two months in Austin.

(7:53)

Aminatou: Yeah, right? But even just being able to be like "Hey, this is the town I used to live in and here are my friends there . . ." and people that you can -- you know?

Ann: Totally.

Aminatou: Just feeling that you could still be an extension of your friends' life away is something that's really important, you know?

Ann: Yeah. So this question at the end that just says "How can I ask for a little more support and shine for my dreams?" I think it's almost literally you just wrote what you have to ask for. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Yeah, that's exactly it. You have to be very direct and you have to be very real. This is not one of those times to be shy or to obfuscate what you really want. What you need is support and shine for your dreams and that's what you tell your friends because sometimes also that's what they need to hear.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: You know, they need to hear how hard it is for you because I think a lot of people, when you're the one that's left behind, you think that the person that's going is just launching into this fabulous new life and you don't want to hear about the anxiety and the fear that they have, right? And for some people that's also tied into jealous. That's undeniable. And so creating a space where you can talk about it, if you can be real with them and say "Hi, here are all the things I'm afraid of and here are the things that I need," that's honestly . . . to me that's the only way forward.

Ann: Yeah. And there's also just a little bit of work too of reassuring them and being like "Uh, I want to continue this friendship in the next phase." You know? Like sometimes literally just being like "You're important to me and you're going to stay important to me, that's why I need your help right now," is sort of a nice thing to hear.

Aminatou: One practical thing that I will say is plan the next time that you're going to see them even if it's very far in advance.

Ann: After the Talk, capital T.

Aminatou: After the Talk and after the move, even if it's like "Hi, I'm not going to see you guys until Thanksgiving." Make a plan for Thanksgiving, or whatever . . .

Ann: Or like dinner next week. [Laughs]

Aminatou: . . . that thing is, so that you have something to look forward to.

Ann: Yeah.

(9:45)

Aminatou: Ugh. But also to everybody don't be a friend that does this, like holds your friends back.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: That's the real problem. You don't want to be that person. And imagine when there's three of them. Or no, four college friends.

Ann: Oh my god, that's so intense.

Aminatou: So it's like four versus one. Yes, you're hurt, and yes, you're scared or whatever. But the four of you will have each other and your other friend is launching out on her own. She's going to be all alone.

Ann: Ugh, so yeah. Hard talks. [Laughs]

Aminatou: It's one of those things where if you want to avoid the hard talk there's no way around it.

Ann: Yeah, it's true. Okay, good luck. Good luck to you grad school bestie.

Aminatou: Good luck in grad school!

Ann: We're pulling for you.

Aminatou: I know. Don't get in too much debt, okay?

Ann: Yeah, we're pulling for your finances most of all. [Laughs]

Aminatou: And study something useful.

Ann: Ugh. Now we've added new anxiety.

[Music]

Aminatou: Next question. "I was wondering how you two deal with the reality that is FOMO." FOMO is fear of missing out for those of you that don't know. "As a staunch supporter of social media I would never, ever consider deleting any of my respective accounts but at times it feels like it just becomes too difficult not to compare myself to all the girls who seem to be living the better version of my life. Would love to hear any and all sage advice and wisdom."

Ann: Oof. I mean . . .

Aminatou: Okay, go ahead. I was going to say something very controversial.

Ann: Oh, I was just going to note that this email subject line is "Fan love and questions" and I enjoy that this person is putting us in a DJ Khaled context. That was all I was going to say. Please . . .

Aminatou: Keys. Major keys.

Ann: Hit me with the hard keys right now.

Aminatou: So I have a hard key: I generally do not suffer from FOMO because I do not really compare myself to other people which is both like a blessing and a curse. All of the people who are living fabulous lives on social media, I can never imagine myself being them so there was never an element of comparison. Some of it has to do with being a person of color; some has to do with being a fat woman; some has to do with also just the way I was brought up and being a weird kid, like what other people had wasn't for me, so this is kind of a hard question to answer. But I in fact experienced FOMO very recently and I told our friend Dio about it. Dio is the friend who brought us together. And Dio is maybe the number one sufferer of FOMO. She's an everything all the time because she's the most fabulous person we know. But I really think that having a perspective where you really recognize that people put their best selves forward on social media for example and that that's all a mirage, like you can't tell all of the lifestyle bloggers -- I follow so many of them -- you can't tell what their hard days are or what's going on in their lives or what any of their anxieties are. Their job is to be aspirational and have that fun aspect of life. So just even knowing that from the gate helps you to realize nobody is giving you the full picture of what's going on in their lives on social media.

(13:05)

Ann: I think that this is something I suffer from less and less the older I get and it's not tied to social media for me either.

Aminatou: Yeah.

Ann: But I definitely think at other points in my life when I was less happy with my job or with my living situation and I was dead broke, not that my life is perfect now, but I think my life was harder ten years ago for example. There was definitely . . . FOMO is the wrong term. I mean straight up jealousy is maybe a better term for it. And I don't know, you're right. Just thinking about the people who you are jealous of because they look a certain way or do a certain thing or got a certain opportunity, do you really want all of the things that come along with that? Even then if I was really honest I'm like I don't want to fully trade places with either of these people. I want this tiny slice of the thing that they have. And most of the time it was like oh, yeah, that's actually attainable for me too. Not like tomorrow, but if I really, really want cute bangs I can try them. Well, I've had some bad bangs in my life.

(14:00)

Aminatou: Oh my god.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: I've been there with you through some bad bangs.

Ann: Right, so sometimes you can't have the things that you want. But you can try them, you know?

Aminatou: But also I think it's this being very real with yourself, that also sometimes there is a little bit of joy in just not liking someone or not liking an aspect of their life. So that's also weirdly tied into this thing. You're just like this person is so happy all the time, or they have everything all the time. You're like ugh, like you just don't want to be a part of it.

Ann: Oh, it's true. And I think that if there is someone or something that makes you feel bad consistently that's an easy unfollow.

Aminatou: I know. I'm also such a proponent of the opposite of this, JOMO, the joy of missing out.

Ann: Ooh.

Aminatou: I hate . . . you know, it's like sometimes you'll see a party on social media that all your friends are at or some vacation that everybody went on or whatever. And the truth is if you're really honest you know exactly how it went. You know what the good things and the bad things were. Looking back and saying "This is great, but I didn't need to be a part of it," you know?

Ann: It's true. Oh my god, I'm totally adopting JOMO. Because, you know, there's also . . . it's really interesting too if I think about my own life and the things that I post, some of my best weeks where I'm like "Ugh, I'm just doing good work and I'm living my life at home and I'm having a great time," like nothing Instagram-worthy happens. You know what I mean?

Aminatou: Right. That doesn't translate to the Gram.

Ann: Exactly. And other times when I'm really busy and stressed and running around and doing a million things, for some reason -- maybe it's how I process stress -- there are things to Instagram. It's weird. It's like the Internet is just not . . . this corner and this vision of the Internet is just not reality.

Aminatou: Yeah, it's just not representative of who people are. It always makes me laugh when people have terrible social media presences because I'm just like oh my god, this is all theatre. This is the one place. It's like your friends and your families know that you're a jerk but literally Internet strangers don't have to know that. You can just charm them with pictures of avocado slices and Coachella and all of this stuff. Strangers don't have to know any of that stuff about you. All of that is very well-curated. It's like if you want to be really earnest about it, you can do that too. That's fine. But I think that in terms of taking a really hard look at somebody's life, technology just makes it easier for people to catfish you.

(16:20)

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: That's all of what technology is, you know? So any . . . so I don't know. And maybe for me it's where I work so I'm so hyper-aware of it.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: People make really hard choices about -- and sometimes not-so-hard choices about what they want to portray and who they want to be online. And again this is why the emphasis on your real, close IRL friendships is so important because you can feel this false sense of intimacy with how you interact with people online. And that's not to say that real friendships don't come from the Internet because I have amazing Internet friends and people who have transitioned into becoming real IRL friends. It's just taking all of it with a grain of salt and if you don't do that hard work of actually asking people "How are you doing? What's going on in your life," all of the stuff that's beyond the artifice, you won't really get to know someone ever.

Ann: Right. And so, I don't know, yeah, with people who you actually know who you have FOMO with sometimes you can just ask. Be like "Hey, how was that party? How was your vacation? How are you doing in general?" I feel like that diffuses it so fast for me. And if there are people you don't know then why do you care?

Aminatou: Totally. And that's the other thing I guess that we've been trying to say this whole time is things like FOMO all live in your head. You're making assumptions based on a movie that you think you've seen but when you get to the bottom of it and you really ask people what the experience of it was you realize that it's a little more different than that.

(17:50)

Ann: Oh my god, okay. So JOMO forever.

Aminatou: JOMO forever, the joy of missing out. People are awful. Just enjoy your own self and do what you've got to do.

Ann: Whew.

Aminatou: What a blessing. I just love saying the word blessing.

Ann: Blessings.

Aminatou: Blessings on blessings on blessings on blessings.

Ann: Car hands emoji.

[Music and Ads]

(21:40)

Aminatou: My god, okay, more questions.

Ann: Or do you want to read doctor update?

Aminatou: Ooh, okay, we have a really great doctor update.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: I have put it in a rubric that is garbage so I won't even read it but this email made me really happy and I'll tell you why. "Hi Ann and Aminatou. I've been listening to your podcast almost from the beginning," whoop, whoop, "and telling all my friends about it to the point where they sort of laugh at my constantly singing your praises."

Ann: This is embarrassing.

Aminatou: So embarrassing. "But for the first time I have received a tangible benefit from listening to you." Yes!

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: "I so much enjoyed your all menstruation episode a few weeks ago but it got me thinking about my own period and how it hasn't been regular for a little while, although I wasn't sure how long. I've had occasional spotting and I'm not trying to get pregnant so I sort of let it slide. It wasn't as though I missed the horrible cramps and the two weeks of every month that I felt crappy. My primary doctor who was also my gynecologist," ugh, hot tip, you want to make the PCP [0:22:41] always, "started flaking out on me and I'm not good about going to the doctor anyways so it just got longer and longer since I'd seen her. After that menstruation episode I looked at my period journal and saw it had been almost 18 months since I'd had a proper weeklong period. I thought well that's no good, especially since uterine and ovarian cancers run in my family. I found a new doctor, made an appointment, told her everything about myself and my age including things I'd never told my previous doctor and had a lot of tests and blood work. I just got the results back and while not all of them are good none of them were as bad as I was afraid they'd be. So I just want to let you know that listening to your show actually got me into a doctor's office after almost four years and to thank you for being my inspiration in this. Looking forward to more menstruation updates in the future." Aww!

Ann: Aww! Yeah! Okay, so honestly the notion that only men put off going to the doctor and are scared of going to the doctor is so wrong. Women put it off all the time.

Aminatou: Yeah, especially millennial women. I remember when I had this really -- well, all the crazy jobs I'd had. I always felt guilty for taking like two or three hours in the day to go to the doctor, and it's not like doctor's offices are open after hours on weekends.

Ann: Totally.

(23:52)

Aminatou: And I never thought that was a legitimate reason to go until the one time I went and it saved my life.

Ann: It's also just unpleasant and whatever. All the basic reasons why we know it's not fun.

Aminatou: Yeah, totally, or you don't want to go because you don't want to hear bad news. This whole thing about it had been 18 months since she'd had a regular period, that hits home to me because that's why I started using a period tracker and then seeing like oh, actually it's been four years that my period has been fucked up but I was not really . . . it's like every month you just go "Eh, next month I'll take care of this. Next month I'll take care of this."

Ann: Time flies.

Aminatou: Yeah, time flies. Way to go Rachel. So proud of you. Everybody should go see a doctor. I love this email for many reasons, even this thing about being really honest with your doctor and telling them all these things you had never told your other doctor. My doctor and I have a very special relationship so I appreciate that.

Ann: Oh, I feel like I'm constantly on the hunt for a gynecologist I actually love. I have this history -- and maybe this is actually super, super common -- of having doctors who ask me if I have weird syndromes. Maybe this is a doctor's job to ask if you have syndromes I guess, but I feel like every time I go it's like "Have you heard of this syndrome named after an Austrian doctor from the 1800s?"

Aminatou: Right, and I'm like you can tell all of that from just looking at my face?

Ann: Totally, yeah. Or most recently I went to the gynecologist just a few weeks ago and my doctor felt my feet in the stirrups and she was like "Your feet are really cold. Are they always cold?" And I was like "Totally. This is just my body. My hands and feet are always cold." And she was like "Well that's actually related to an autoimmune disorder."

Aminatou: Ahh!

Ann: I know! And it's like things that . . .

Aminatou: Well, Ann, everybody knows that you have Marfans.

Ann: I can't even talk about disorders that people have thought I have because I'm a tall lady.

Aminatou: Because you're a tall babe and they're like your life can't be perfect.

Ann: Yeah.

(25:48)

Aminatou: Yeah, no, that's real. But again another reason for having one . . . it is a pain, I'm not going to lie. It is a pain to find a doctor that you like that you can work with, that will listen to you, and for me I was kind of propelled into that after some weird illness shit a couple years ago. I had to learn the hard way. But I think that it's worth hunting around and finding. Especially if you're right now in a period where you are healthy this is the best time for you to find a primary care physician. My advice is usually to ask other people around you. I love sending the emails to all my lady friends being like "Hi, I need a dentist. I need a dermatologist. I need a gynecologist," and have people do the internal Yelp of what they think about their own doctors.

Ann: Mm-hmm.

Aminatou: But I think that going also to the doctor as a consumer, you're in shopping mode. If you don't like them you can make a choice, right? As opposed to when you're actually sick and your insurance is shitty and you're forced into finding different people. It's worth doing the hunt a little bit before that.

Ann: I feel like this is actually a really good friend accountability thing to do. Are you actually happy with your doctor? Maybe we can both pledge that we're going to find a doctor or I'm going to hold you accountable because it's something I know I put off and put off and put off and put off for myself.

Aminatou: Yeah, no. And when you find a doctor in an emergency and there's the stress of just whatever is ailing you, you know, the money part of it, and you're just at the mercy of this person's opinions, it's not a good look.

Ann: It's true.

Aminatou: This is all of my advice. My medical advice usually consists of this. I'm like find a doctor when you're not sick and also get Plan B when you don't need it.

Ann: Oh my god, it's in my cheese drawer in my fridge.

Aminatou: I know, mine's in my fridge too. I'm just like I always do this every couple of months. I'll go to a fancy brunch then I'll hop around pharmacies and get three or four of them, even though it's a little bit of dollars, and keep it in my fridge. Because you know when you don't need to be shopping for Plan B is when you actually have an emergency. You know, you're stressing out and god forbid the pharmacist says some crazy Christian fundamentalist shit to you. That's  not when you need it. So have it at home and pass it on to your friends. Nothing makes me happier than being the Plan B lady. It's part of my slut kit.

(28:00)

Ann: And also if you keep it in the cheese door like I do then you remind yourself regularly. Like every time I go to get a dairy treat I'm like oh, actually this is here. Should I check the expiration date? It is just the best feeling to be prepared.

Aminatou: I know, seriously. It's like keep one for yourself and keep one for a friend. Emergencies are real.

Ann: Ugh, okay. PSA over.

Aminatou: PSA. Yeah, this email made me so happy.

[Music]

Ann: So this letter says "I'm a 29-year-old female and I consider myself fairly confident and outspoken on most occasions but I have and have always had a tiny, squeaky voice. In almost all work situations I've had someone comment on how I sound like a baby or like a Disney character. In social situations where I'm meeting someone new through a friend I also have at least one comment about my voice, but it's always a compliment or I choose to take it as such. Either way my voice and accent is always a topic of conversation. One day I might be able to use this to my advantage as a children's show voice actor," oof, "but in my current career trajectory this has not been advantage. I remember the first time I ever felt ashamed of it was when I had a work review and my supervisor said the only thing I could improve on was to change my voice. It was a well-intentioned comment because I do know that my voice makes me sound childish and possibly in that scenario unprofessional but the thing that makes me so upset is this is my voice. I do not put it on to be girly or to appear feeble. I love the movie with Lake Bell called In a World where she terms it sexy baby voice. I have a fear that this is what people assume I'm emulating but honestly I know no other way to speak. Anyway, the issue is now I'm a PhD student and I need to do a 30-minute oral presentation at the end of this year for candidature. I'm wondering your thoughts and/or advice on whether I should hone a more 'adult' voice or whether I can just rock my baby voice as long as I know my topic really well and confidently. In a perfect world I would've been a mixture of Morgan Freeman, David Attenborough, and Geena Davis' voice but I don't think that's going to happen. I also feel very attached to the voice that has gotten me this far in life." Aww.

(30:30)

Aminatou: This email makes me so rage angry on behalf of this person because she can't be mad for herself. It's like yes, your voice is tiny and squeaky and the only reason it's a problem is because society is awful and women just get scrutinized more by their voices. You know, but it's her voice, right? You can't control what comes out of the voice box. That's ridiculous.

Ann: They've actually done studies on women who are sort of like early career or early pioneers in finance and other white collar male-dominated fields where the women consistently were dropping their voices, like exactly what this person is writing us about, in order to deepen their voices at meetings and stuff. And they wrecked their vocal chords. There was actually damage to their vocal chords from trying to emulate a deeper, more male pattern of speech. And this is one of those things where we both have pretty deep voices I feel like for women, or definitely not on the higher-pitched end of the spectrum. But I have friends who have very high-pitched voices and it's something that I've talked about with them too as they feel pressure or they don't think that they're taken seriously.

(31:45)

Aminatou: Yeah, no. I sympathize with that, right? But then it's like you look at all of the other stuff that also makes people not take women seriously and it's just like one more excuse that people have.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: On a very small level, this question of getting professional help or whatever, it's a thing I have explored because I was like maybe I talk a little too crazy and it's not professional and I want to learn how to talk like a grownup. I went to a couple of voice lessons and let me tell you it's like people who work in public radio do this. In fact the person who recommended the people I went to, she's a radio host. And I was like sure, this is fine when it comes to like inflection and diction and whatever. But at the end of the day it's also just teaching people that there is one specific way to talk.

Ann: Right, to be taken seriously.

Aminatou: Yeah, to be taken seriously if you're a woman, and I deeply chafe at that.

Ann: Yeah, totally. I mean it's interesting because it sort of reminds me too of conversations about vocal fry that we've had before or just general ways of saying if this is a way that women seem to speak naturally we should be figuring out why it's bad and getting them to change it.

Aminatou: Yeah.

Ann: As opposed to examining our own assumptions about why that's not great. But it's definitely a hard thing where you're like -- you know, she says "I like my voice. It's gotten me this far in life. I don't want it to change." But it's one of those things where you're like if it's actually impeding my success . . . I don't know. I understand the temptation to say "How do I make people more comfortable?"

Aminatou: No, totally, right? And this is a thing that even men suffer from, right? There's this great documentary, I think it was this year, or last year maybe, about gay voice essentially. And that was such a revelation to me, and in my own struggles with how I sound I was very oblivious to the fact that there is definitely a testosterone-soaked manly voice and that essentially everybody is trying to get there.

Ann: Yeah.

(33:48)

Aminatou: And just the ways that it's really gendered and it's also sexualized. I think about David Beckham, right, who is a really good-looking guy but has a very high-pitched voice and people . . . some people are really turned off by that and people make fun of him. But at the same time, it's like to quote Beyonc, "the best revenge is your paper."

Ann: It's true. It's interesting too because that gay voice documentary, which I also watched, there's a whole thread to it that is sort of about disliking voices that sound feminine or sound more feminine even in the gay community.

Aminatou: Yeah.

Ann: And it makes you realize just how pervasive the bias is. So I don't know. I mean I think your voice sounds great probably. I haven't heard it. I'm sure it sounds great because it's your voice and you're being smart. Yeah, I don't know. What would it look like to actually confront the people that suggest that and say "This is actually the register in which I speak. I can't change it. This is the way my body is built." Because part of it is that your vocal patterns are literally parts of your body. This is -- yeah, it's a body issue.

Aminatou: I don't know. I say if you like your voice don't let society tell you to do anything different with it. Use it as a way to educate people on what kind of assholes they're being every chance you get. And it's so ridiculous that your voice is something that can hold you back but this is the world that we live in.

Ann: Right. So relisten to also the vocal fry pep talk episodes because I feel all of that stuff applies and shout-out to all of our high-pitched voice listeners.

Aminatou: I know. I'm trying to find this email that one of the voice coaches wrote me on some stuff. Oh, so there's all this research that men and women, when they are in love or they're interested in someone, they try to match that person's voice patterns.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: And so women's voices will get huskier and men's voices will get really high-pitched.

Ann: Whoa.

Aminatou: I was like interesting. Change in tonality as romantic interest, which is neither here nor there but I just remember that as an interesting thing.

Ann: I like the idea though of this listener being like "So, actually it bothers me that your vocal register is so much lower than mine. If you could raise it just a little it would help me to communicate with you."

(36:02)

Aminatou: I know. They're like can't fall in love with you unless you're hanging out on my voice pitch.

Ann: Ugh, yeah.

Aminatou: Yeah, no, this listener, you are the jam. You know what? You've gotten this far in life. Nothing is going to stop you.

Ann: Yeah, and just insert here the highest-pitched Mariah Carey note. Out.

Aminatou: Perfect.

[Music]

Aminatou: You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com, download it anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts, or on iTunes where we would love it if you left us a review. You can tweet at us at @callyrgf or email us at callyrgf@gmail.com. You can also find us on Facebook -- you can find that one on your own -- or on our really fun Instagram at callyrgf. You can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. This podcast is produced by Gina Delvac.

Ann: Gina Delvac!

Aminatou: Ow, ow!

Ann: Awesome. See you on the Internet.

Aminatou: I know. See you on the Internet, booboo. Feel better.

Ann: Ugh, always.