For as long as I can remember, people–friends, family, strangers–have been trying to stuff me into a tiny little box with predetermined dimensions and ideas of who and what I should be. I tried to live the way they said I should. I tried to be who they said I should be. What happened is that I was miserable and they were much more comfortable.
The problem with that little box is that it does not allow for any individuality and color at all. Anyone who knows me, knows that confinement and conformity do not suit me at all. It took a long time to realize that God made me unique and I should embrace the crazy, chaotic, colorful nature that is me. Hiding it and stifling it creates misery.
Over the years, others have decided that pieces of me are too much to handle and just not enough to be valued. According to their standards, I am both too much and not enough. I think that is why my recent attempts at relationships have failed. There is this assigned group of behaviors and standards given to women my age and any divergence from said behaviors and standards is unfamiliar and unbecoming and therefore, unacceptable.
I am too much:
- I am too boisterous–If I am having a good time, you will know. Even in a room full of noisy people, you will hear me laughing above everyone else. While I don’t like being paraded in front of others (I even hated being the center of attention at my own wedding), I don’t have a problem with being the center of the giggle storm.
- I am too talkative–I can’t help it if I have a lot to say, whether or not others share that sentiment or appreciate my loquaciousness. There are many things on this beautiful planet worth talking about. I refuse to apologize for enjoying them and the many beautiful and flawed people with whom I share this planet and my space.
- I am too animated–If I am excited about something, enjoying myself or telling a story, I use sound effects, exaggerated body language and crazy facial expressions. I have tried toning it down, but I just can’t.
- I laugh too much–I have survived horrible bouts of depression, serving in a combat zone in the military, exposure to sarin, electrocution, rape, 2 sexual assaults, a life-threatening pregnancy and delivery, robbery at gunpoint, job loss, bullying, abandonment, abuse, rejection and being used. If I am able to find joy after that–well, I have earned every single belly laugh, chuckle, giggle, guffaw and snort. I will take laughing over crying any day of the week.
- I am too weird–At the age of 47, I still like to color my hair in crazy hues (my favorites are pink and candy apple red). I love crazy non-matching socks. I am mad for shoes, and the crazier they are, the better–I own four pairs of Hello Kitty Vans, rainbow zebra striped sneakers, slip-ons that resemble disco balls and tennies that sparkle in gold and silver. I am obsessed with all things that write, color and brush. Frogs are my favorite animal and I have a growing collection of froggie things. On occasion I will sing in public, rather badly, and sometimes even dance.
- I am too naive–As much as I would like to be able to protect myself from the big, bad world and the unsavory, ill-intentioned people that occupy it, I find myself looking for the good in everyone and seeing their potential, even when they have given me more than enough proof that they are not safe or healthy to be around. Some days I would love to be cynical and jaded and angry, for the sake of self-preservation. I have had moments where I have been those things, but then Pollyanna takes over and the world is beautiful and kind again. I can definitely be gullible and believe exactly what people tell me about who they are. Thankfully, I am getting better at recognizing when I need to walk away, because their “truth” is anything but.
- I am too silly–I love nerf gun battles, rolling down hills and having burping contests with my boys. I appreciate kid jokes and making up songs about random stuff going on around me. These things are not likely to change anytime soon.
- I am too nerdy–Apparently, I should aspire to be a dumb blonde (sorry blondies, just a term. I know you aren’t dumb). I never understood that. I like being smart. I like words. I will never understand why a man, or anyone else for that matter, would want me to be any other way.
- I am too scatterbrained–I don’t think it is age. I think it has more to do with a creative personality than anything else. Most creative types that I know are a bit on the scatterbrained side. In my humble opinion, being scatterbrained is nothing more than the free flow of ideas. There are just so many things running around in my head, that if everything was completely structured and ordered, there would be no room for another batch of creative ideas to run in and join the party.
- I procrastinate too much–This is probably one of my greatest flaws and one of my greatest blessings. It is a flaw because it drives most people, including me, batshit crazy. There is always a mad rush and a panic to finish any assignment or project or online order. While it appears that it is detrimental to the process, for some reason, I always do my best work when I am under the gun. That gun, pushes me to fight for the right words, the perfect image or clarity of thought. I get tunnel vision. Some of my best 10-page papers in college were started 24 hours before they were due and finished just minutes before the start of class.
- I am too complicated–Human beings, by nature, are complicated creatures. You add forty-something years of life experience, various abuses, heartbreak, choices, both bad and good, bumps and bruises, not to mention parenthood, beauty, love, joy, hard work and accomplishment and you get a wonderfully layered, complicated mess. I am that mess and I refuse to apologize for it. Some people may run from that mess, but that is okay. I will take layered, complicated and messy over vapid, shallow and easy any day. Anything, or anyone, for that matter, worth having takes work. If someone can’t handle the work, then they are free to move along to what is easy.
I am not enough:
- I am not thin enough–I have never been a size 2. I used to be a size 5. I am a far cry from either now. A lifetime of crazy eating habits, not enough sleep, working too much, clinical depression, pregnancy and autoimmune disease as well as a genetic predisposition for weight issues have complicated things. I have probably lost and gained and lost and gained and lost and gained about 200 pounds or more in the last decade. I take it off, I gain it back. And studies (countless studies) have shown that weight loss is a crap ton harder in your forties. I have finally accepted that the best I can do is take care of myself the best that I can, eat as healthy as I can (but I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination) and stay active. Size be damned.
- I am not feminine enough–I am a tomboy. I have been my whole life. I prefer jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers to a dress and heels. I like makeup, but I am limited in my application skills so it is usually pretty minimal. I would love to have beautiful hair, but despise having to put forth the effort to do it. My nails have been polished, but I have found that with the work I do and my art, attempting to keep them girlie is a pointless endeavor. As a child, I would go frog hunting (no killing involved, I promise), bring bugs into the house and play with cars and mud. I am uniquely suited to being a mother of boys. I am not squeamish about bugs and dirt and worms and snakes. I find fart humor both disturbing and funny, but don’t tell my boys that. I like rough housing and getting dirty. No offense to the girls out there or the mothers of daughters, but I think boy stuff is the coolest and being wild and dirty beats restrained and pristine any day of the week.
- I am not pretty enough–I have plenty of flaws. My nose is too wide and grows wider by the day. My eyelashes are almost non-existent. I have a round face and hair that always seems to be in need of styling. My eyebrows have random hairs that appear to migrate north leaving me with an odd brow line. I don’t look anything like what most men see as conventional beauty. That used to bother me. I wanted to be tall and thin and blond with blue eyes and a sparkling personality. I was born as a altitude-challenged, hazel-eyed brunette. I was given brains instead of beauty. I also got kind heart, an abundance of compassion and the ability to love the broken and wounded. Beauty, while a nice thing to have, is fleeting and has a limited shelf life. I will keep the “beauty” I was graced with. And the other gifts–they have served me well.
- I am not sexy enough–I guess that I was sexy enough when I was much younger, in my army days. I don’t know that it was so much sexy as appealing for my very youthful looks. For some reason men really appreciate and have an addiction to women that look really young. I have been blessed in that regard. I am 47 and people still guess my age to be in my thirties. But sexy? Not really. Some people say that sexy is in the attitude and self-confidence. If that is the case, then I am in trouble. I am just weird and seriously lack the self confidence and attitude that would make me sexy. That’s okay. Some day, someone will love me for the awkward mess that I am.
- I am not graceful enough–I am like a bull in a china shop. I trip over my own feet, roll my ankles, fall upstairs, run into walls and door jambs, drop stuff and bump my head all the time. I am not sure from whom I get this lovely gift, but I would love to give it back. I usually have a variety of bruises in various stages of color at any given time and it really isn’t attractive. Getting them isn’t any fun either.
- I am not “easy” enough–I have been told, quite recently, by men that I have met online that I am not putting out quickly enough (read: just not doing it). A lot of them just want easy, quick sex with no attachments or their ability to love and/or appreciate you hinges on your sexual availability. They don’t really want to get to know me as a human being or a woman. They want to get to know me as a sperm receptacle and little else. One went so far as to tell me that if I didn’t “get hip with the now”, I would find myself “old and in the way.” Nice.
I am me. I don’t really know how to be anyone else. When I try, I fail horribly and I end up miserable. The closer I am to who God designed me to be, the happier I am. Am I perfect? Not even close. I am flawed and broken and messed up and I fail at something every single day. I don’t get it right. I don’t do things the same way everyone else does them. My drummer has a unique beat that I follow and revel in. I have learned, and it took me until my forties to realize this, that my path and purpose are unique to me, as are the path and purpose of each individual inhabiting this planet. Embrace yours. Grab it and run with it. You never know who might be blessed by your mess. Your beautiful, broken and flawed mess. The world deserves to know the real you. And you deserve to be it.