Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reaction to My Last Post (Stella Skywalker)

After my last blog post I had some interesting comments and perspectives and that got me thinking about how easy it is to misinterpret others ideas or put our own special filter on things going on around us. When I made mention of the fine brother that I met I cited that he was an RM. Many responses reminded me how many good and wonderful men there are in the world who are not RM's and I would be missing out greatly if I discounted them. I completely agree and that's what got me thinking...I didn't grow up in the church, I have zero connections to Utah, I have no pioneer relatives and my particular lens is definitely shaped by this. I did not grow up dreaming of my plain, white, Temple ready wedding gown (with sleeves of course) while I stood by my handsome RM prince who was going to carry me off into the sunset and provide me with my very own white picket fence and 5 children. While this has in some sense become my dream over the years I grew up with the mindset that I would get married and have a family but I was also going to get an education, have a career, and travel the world and then when I was ready I would simply select my mate of choice from the conveyor belt of men going by.

Funny - things haven't quite worked out that way. While I have been richly blessed in areas that I can control (my education for example) when I finally realized that the husband hunt was going to be a bit harder then I realized and that Heavenly Father wasn't just going to plop HIM in front of me I had one foot out the YSA door and a host of fears starting to hit my mind and heart. Sometimes I wonder if not being raised in the church and having some clue of our dating culture was a detriment. I joined the church shortly before my freshman year of college. I didn't go to BYU (but as every good Mormon does at some point) figured I had better live my obligatory time on our home planet.

I spent most of those 2 Utah years having fun but definitely not pursuing marriage. I was waiting for my (yes these are real criteria) 6'4" dark hair, blue eyes, preppy boy with straight teeth, future MD, has a car and a clean apartment, will open every door for me, compliment me, bring me flowers, have no opinions unless they are just like mine, will appreciate every single thing I ever say or do, will never see a single flaw in me...I'd go on but the list just gets embarrassing from here.

When my roommate got married in December of our freshman year after knowing her sweetheart for a month I was truly baffled. I was still scared of boys and couldn't kiss one much less marry him. I didn't question her decision or wonder why she was giving up her life - I just wondered how she did it so fast. Life continued on, I returned to my home state for my junior year and became actively involved in my institute and YSA ward. I continued to wait for the boy I dreamed of to fall out of the sky while simultaneously being terrified that he just might. I can look back now and see how hard I was on the men in my life. It didn't take much to unimpress me and since I was so driven I assumed they should be too. I had no patience whatsoever for those who still lived at home or weren't in school pursuing their dreams. I progressed forward, finishing my degree, beginning my career and achieving those world travel dreams. I continued to wait for someone to notice just how awesome I was and to take those manly first steps to begin our courtship. I waited...and I waited....and waited some more. Then 30 came and went and I joined my local family ward where I experienced pain, depression and despair in such depth I thought it would kill me sometimes.

As a mental health professional I have analyzed all of this to death. Up one side, down the other, and yes of course there are many things I could have done differently, there are lots of presumed reasons why and untold missed opportunities. But these are also regrets and I refuse to live my life with regrets. I sit here today and remind myself that while I did not have the same perspective 20 years ago that I have today I was where I was. That is to say, I was who I was. I operating with the knowledge and understanding that I had and though I can now look back and wonder if things had been different if only I had done this one thing, the truth is my life is how it's supposed to be. My journey has always been my journey. The Lord knew me before I knew me. He knew my path before my feet even touched it. He knew it would take me ___ years to figure out all that I personally needed to know so that I could fulfill my calling on this earth. He knew that I was never going to be that 18 year old girl in the boring (sorry - but have you seen some of those gowns!) white gown staring up at her RM dreaming of their babies and little starter apartment. He knew that it would take me much longer to figure out how to be the wife, mother, and woman that He NEEDS me to be and that without my experiences and yes, even the knife sharp pain that those experiences bring, I wouldn't be ready.

I think back to my 20 year old criteria and just laugh. Here's what I want today 6'4" (I just can't let this one go), loves God, loves Jesus Christ, loves ME, puts his best into everything he does, and is honest and loyal in all he does. That's it. I no longer care what he does for a living, what accomplishments he has racked up, what letters are behind his name, or any of those other superfluous things that life can give and take away just as quickly. One thing I've learned over the last few years - if we have anything of value it's who we are. Our things, our achievements and accomplishments, our jobs and titles can be removed in an instance. Serving a mission doesn't make you perfect, being a member of the church is no guarantee that life will fall perfectly into our cultural 'box', and perhaps most importantly...just like the men we long and search for - there are pretty temple ready gowns out there if you are willing to look in unusual places.


Marnie said...

I COMPLETELY relate! On the days I get discouraged and hopeless, I often berate myself for not being ready when the rest of my gender was back in my 20s. I also feel like maybe I've missed my chance and this is the consequence of NOT being ready for marriage in an optimal time in my life. But this was how my life was going to go. I needed time. And it's taken too many years to even forgive myself for taking so long to figure things out. Thanks for the uplift and reminder!

And I totally agree with you about the temple dresses! :)

Fei said...

Stella, thank you SO much for writing this.

I especially, especially love the comparison of lists. But gosh darn it, don't you wish there were more 6'4 men in the world?!

I had a stupid list too. Most of my list was pretty good, but there were really stupid things in there (return missionary, oldest child like me, isn't a surfer or a jock, doesn't wear flip flops to church, speaks a second language - preferably Chinese, geeky and at least as computer savvy as I am, doesn't work out in the gym to look good). Turns out, my husband didn't serve a mission, wore flip flops to church at BYUH, and I taught him the little Chinese he knows. Objective items on lists are so stupid.

We do get so caught up with the happy ending story that we tend to forget that life really is about the learning process, not the happy ending. We all screw up in one way or another that affect our futures and we just can't afford to look back in regret, beating ourselves up for things we didn't learn sooner. There's no point to that at all. The point is that we learned something.

I know that while my time as a single is not comparable to yours in any way, I am glad that I had that single time I didn't ask for. The time I had to make my mistakes as a single woman has allowed me to grow into the woman I am today. I am grateful for that.

Conkit said...

Beautifully written. It's true. Who we are is the most valuable thing we have and all our achievements and titles can be taken.

I spent years pursuing an education and career that I just knew would bring me complete joy. When I reached the top of that mountain, I realized I was all alone and I would trade it all for someone to love. I wondered if I had passed up many good opportunities and sacrificed what really mattered for my career.

I ended up marrying my husband and moving to another state where I can't even practice law anymore haha. I'm ok with that. I don't have any regrets but I do realize that in the end, even the accomplishments that I was most proud of have been taken and yet, I'm still ME:0) Thats the most valuable part.