Bertabean: A Storybook about Self-Esteem for Grown-Up Girls
Most of us were taught that the American Dream and the “pursuit of happiness” are the same thing. But are they? Berta has worked hard, followed the rules, and made a “success” of herself. She has the lifestyle and the expensive goodies to prove it. She’s in the “1%.” So why isn’t she proud of herself? Where’s the self-esteem that should have come with all this “success”? What is she doing wrong?
Excerpt from Bertabean
Sunday morning she was restless
And got up at quarter to five;
So as not to wake her husband,
She slipped out to take a drive.
Berta headed north on Broad Street
To her favorite quiet spot
In a local cemetery
That she visited quite a lot.
Here the gates were always open,
So she found a place to park –
And she waited for the sunrise
In the early morning dark.
As she sipped her mug of coffee,
Berta listened to the sounds
Of the whispering of the pine trees
On the peaceful, sacred grounds.
Bertabean began to wonder
What her epitaph would be
If her death should come upon her
Berta hoped, of course, the phrase
Would be both flattering and kind –
But despite her contemplation
Nothing readily came to mind.
She was really very selfish –
Very vain and very proud –
And for all the same wrong reasons
As the whole consumer crowd.
Though she owned the latest gadgets,
And she drove a fancy car,
She had certainly not been living
An authentic life so far.
She was certainly not creative –
Neither passionate nor unique –
Her conformity was boring,
Unimaginative, and bleak.
She had traded her identity
For a lot of pricey “stuff” –
But she’d reached a critical crossroads,
And her verdict was … Enough.
This conspicuous consumption
Was decidedly not the way –
And it clearly wasn’t working
For Roberta anyway.
For despite her childish reasoning,
Real success was not a score –
Life was not about exam grades
Or report cards anymore.
She no longer was a student
But a woman fully grown –
And the only real approval
Berta needed was her own.