Tuesday, February 4, 2014

hear me roar

so i've been thinking a little bit. and we all know that gets me into trouble sometimes. but i wanted to share something that's really important to me, and i'm trying to make sense of it. so just be warned: things are about to get real.

there's a quote from a chinese philosopher that says "he who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened." and i think that's true. it's easy to understand other people more than ourselves because i think people are scared of facing themselves alone, out of the context of the world and these expectations society has for us to live up to. it's easy to measure out your life based on accepted successes. graduating high school. getting into college. finding a career. starting a family. life is a series of lists to check off, goals to strive for. we're so caught up in trying to live a predetermined life, we sometimes forget to consider our individuality.

because it's scary going off book. it's scary having to think beyond the what and instead consider the why. it is much easier to go through the motions of a long-trod path instead of looking up to see where you want to go, who you want to be. after all, we're creatures of habit. we sometimes do things without thinking because, hey, it's exhausting having to be the one forging ahead. but the reality is...life isn't a blue print. there isn't one set path or one right destiny.

we live in these shadows of expectation and norms. we limit ourselves and our desires if they don't fit into these preconceived notions of what it is to be happy, to be successful. throughout our lives there's a lot of talk about measuring up. but to what? what is this line we draw, positioning it at different points to make sure we don't cross it? what are these fences we build, to keep life contained and manageable and comfortable? what is this scale we always carry to measure people up against?

i'm not a good enough mormon. a good enough writer. a good enough woman. a good enough lover. a good enough worker.

i guess i'm just tired of being told i'm never good enough because i'm over here wondering...enough what?

the singer Janelle Monae said something amazing once. and i think it bears repeating.
Perfection is the enemy of greatness. Embrace what makes you unique, even if it makes others uncomfortable.
and i think that's true. we shouldn't be perfect; there isn't one ideal. and the question of being enough? i don't need to be enough; i need to be me.

gone are the days of waiting to be told i'm pretty enough, talented enough, good enough. i don't need permission. i'm not seeking validation. i won't fit an easy mold. life is complicated, so it makes sense every soul then is a mess of complications too. we can pretend we have it figured out. we can throw around stuff about gender roles as an excuse to limit ourselves or believe less in ourselves. we can validate our comfort zones with talk of proven methods and spiritual ideals.

when i was a girl, i thought i needed validation. i needed to be assured and reassured. i needed to play along, to fit in, to be normal and accepted. i sought after a norm. because that's what we think life is--a journey of inevitability. play the game. go through the motions to get to the end. do things the proper way and you'll make it out alive.

(always with a curious emphasis on making a life rather than living one.)

and i was always unhappy. i was always scared of my own shadow. i didn't know me. the person i carried inside and the person i tried to portray didn't match up. i had no idea how to justify how i was feeling. so i stayed quiet. and i got angry. and bitter and selfish and desperate. and even though i was doing everything "right," i was unhappy. because i wasn't honoring me.

how vain, how silly, how strange to think we have it all figured out. in our limited scope, our small experience, we think society or history or tradition has unlocked the secret to a happy life, a successful life, a proper life. but that's a joke. because i may not be enough anything for this world, but i am me. and that is enough.

i am loud and outspoken. i have thoughts and dreams and opinions that will not be silenced.
i will not listen when i'm told i am not enough, that maybe if i tried this thing i would be happier, or if i thought this way life will work out easier.
i am passionate and i am emotional. i am empowered, and that is not a crime.
i will not wait for someone's stamp of approval, or someone's okay to feel or do or think something or anything. i do not need babied, nor do i need protected.
i will smile when someone tries to soften the blow, when they think news of their opinion of me is something i have to brace against. 
i am comfortable with who i am and where i stand with God. that is what matters to me, and culture will never define that relationship for me. 
i will demand respect, but i will never need approval. my feelings are mine, and I am capable of protecting and honoring them myself.
i am flawed and imperfect, and i will continue to grow and change for me, but, still, i am enough.
i am strong and i am an individual. my thoughts are my own. my desires and dreams, no matter how different, are still valid.
i will rock the boat. i will challenge the status quo. i will ruffle feathers. i will do what makes me happy, what makes me fulfilled, what makes me me, and i will do it without apology.

to be a woman is a powerful thing. and i won't be made to feel ashamed of or limited by any part of it. and don't worry; i know i am imperfect, and this isn't meant to toot my own horn. but i am grateful to know myself. i am grateful to feel enlightened. and i think, most of all, i am grateful for the chance to live life. for me.

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