Ordinary, Happily Ever After

Done: A Non-Conformist’s Manifesto

Today one of my mentors asked me a profound question that, at first blush, wouldn’t seem like that big of a deal.

She asked, “What have you decided to be done with?”

When I first heard that, I was a little confused.  Done with?  What have I decided to be done with?  I vaguely thought about various tasks that have been hanging over my head and wondered which ones I could let go of.  But, like a butterfly emerging from her chrysalis, a defiant thought burst out of me.

“I am done being everything to everyone.  I’m done trying to meet other people’s expectations.  I’m done being something I’m not.”

I don’t think I answered her quite those words to her, but the more I pondered the idea, the more confident in the idea that what has been holding me back is not my potential, education, or lack of talent, but my own belief that somehow, I need permission to live the life I want to live.

I don’t.

We live in a world where we are bombarded with culture wars on every side, pulling us in different directions.  My kids pulls me one way, my husband another, my sisters third, my friends another – church culture, social media culture, school, business, hobbies, homeschool, public school, stay at home mom, working mom… every aspect of my life has a “culture” surrounding it that expects me to conform.

It’s like when I was in high school, and each teacher thought their class was the most important and expected me to ignore the other 10 classes I was taking so I could focus on his.

It sucked then, and it sucks now.

I am not a robot.

I’m not just one thing.  I’m not just a mom.  I’m not just a wife.  I’m not just a mormon.  Yes, I am a mom, and a wife, and a mormon.  But I’m also a writer.  And a photographer.  And a business woman.  A runner, an aspiring violinist, a future BJJ black belt and MMA fighter, an academic, a dancer, a giver, an explorer, a daughter of God, a black sheep, a teacher, a nurturer, an academic, a friend, an open book, and whatever else strikes my fancy at any given moment.

And that’s ok!

I’m allowed to be all of those things and more.

So, I’m done.

I’m done trying to fit my crazy, wild, un-definable shape into whatever shaped hole the world expects me to fit into at any given moment.  Because the reality is there is only one person, other than myself, who has a say in the kind of person I should be and the kind of life I should live: my Heavenly Father.

From this point forward, I will no longer allow other people or cultures tell me how to shape my life.  I will consult with my God, since not only is He the creator of all things (including me), but only by following His plan for my happiness will I find the fulfillment I am seeking.

So I’m shaking things up.

I’m breaking the rules.

I’m going to be a mormon, MMA fighting, classical violinist, blogger, photographer, mom of six.  I’m going to share my life, both the ups and the downs, even though some people might be uncomfortable with it.  I’m going to drink juice and soda for breakfast, even though all of the books tell me it’s terrible.  I’m going to lose 20 more pounds (even with the soda and juice) and get a tummy tuck and a boob job even though everyone says I should be happy with the body I have.  I’m going to talk about my faith and my feelings on my blog even though people tell me I should appeal to as wide of an audience as possible.  I’m going to take pictures of families, and weddings, and glamour, and fine art, and head shots, and births, and whatever else I want even though everyone says I need to specialize… you get the idea.

And I’m not backing down this time.

I’ve been a good girl my entire life.  I’ve done everything that was expected of me.  And where has it gotten me?  I’m a co-dependant, hot mess on prozac, with six kids who, while good at heart, are freaking crazy and often embarrassing, a marriage that is hanging on by a thread (though that thread is getting thicker and stronger every day), and an uncertain future that occasionally spirals me into a full blown panic attack with heart palpitations and uncontrollable diarrhea.

Clearly doing the “right” thing, hasn’t worked.  I’ve hit the end of the line and my life has been turned upside down… and I kind of like what has happened to me in the process.

Scary

Here’s the thing.  I’m sure a lot of people are going to read this and think I’ve gone off my hinges (especially my family).  They may want to stage an intervention and tell me all of the reasons why I shouldn’t abandon everything I hold dear.

But that’s not what I’m doing.  Everything that I love and that holds meaning for me, still has a hold on my heart.  I’m not about to walk out on my family, I’m not abandoning my church, I’m not even diving head first into a carton of ice cream (for once).

I’m simply taking control over the things in my life that I can rightfully take control of.  Things like my own actions, my own feelings, and own my thoughts.  I can’t try and control other people anymore, which, I think is why I always tried to conform to whatever other people wanted from me.  Deep down, I thought that if I did what they wanted, they would do what I wanted.  But it doesn’t work like that.  Especially when the people you are “taking orders” from have no idea what they even want.

I’m going to stop living a life of reaction and distraction.  Other people’s actions have an affect one me, and there are consequences to every action.  But I no longer want other people’s actions and their consequences to direct and control me.  I can’t do it anymore and I know that’s not the life God wants me to live.

What do I want?

I just want to be happy, at peace, and confident in the fact that I have done everything in my power to be the person that my Father in Heaven wants me to be.  And I know that woman is powerful, strong, confident, and a bit unpredictable.  Whatever else she is I still need to find out.  Which is why I will be staying close to Him during this entire process.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “Consecration… constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory”.

That’s what I want.  Victory.

And bigger boobs.

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