This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a YSA (Young Single Adult) conference for the southeast region. The speakers included David A Bednar, Sheri Dew & Brad Wilcox.
The firesides & workshops that were given were splendid & I did have the pleasure of meeting a handful of new friends that accepted me & enjoyed befriending me.
However, there was one specific part of this conference that was... disappointing. And it won't come as a surprise to any of you when I reveal what it is.
I do not pretend to be incredibly enthusiastic in attending the dance that is almost a requirement for any gathering of young people between the ages of 14 and 30. Although, of course as any female can attest, the opportunity to dance to a slow song is something so entrenched within us that we can hardly contain ourselves. And as Jane Austen astutely put it, "to be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love." We're suckers for romance, what can I say?
But for some reason, this particular dance was even more depressing than others. So I kept on asking myself why that was?
This dance I did attend with my few friends was perhaps the first one I've been to in years. The last time I did attend a dance of this persuasion, I must've been in high school or early college and still not quite comfortable in my own skin; afraid of letting my true colors show & was downright shy. I would stand in the corner, maybe bob my head back and forth to beats, or just find a group of kids talking among themselves and situate myself in a certain way so that it would be easy for them to reach out and include me.
But this dance, I decided to let all caution to the wind & just do whatever came to me. I decided to let my guard down & just have fun with it.
Now to be clear, I'm not a dancer. I'm quite terrible at it actually, and I've never had a talent for graceful movements, even in regards to walking or running let alone when it's set to music. But, here's the thing:
I don't dance because I'm good at it, I dance because I know it'll make other people around me laugh. I embarrass myself with wild, flailing movements to make others feel comfortable doing the same.
And yet, while I was at this activity, I was asked to dance by one guy. One. Whereas before, I would be asked to dance at least every slow song, which is usually five or six times, depending on the occasion. Not only that, but I would have gotten the attention of several guys, who would inevitably turn out to be new friends or even romantic suitors.
Yet, this dance was a particular disappointment. At least comparatively speaking to the old days when I would give a coy, coquettish smile with a trace of tell-tale blush on my cheeks. I would pretend to be docile and mysterious which would inevitably capture the fancy of quite a few men in the room. (course it wouldn't last long, but that's not the point.)
Contrasting my old tactics to my new one, of simply being myself & not caring what other people thought of me, I reached a sad moment of clarity as I drove home afterwards.
Not many people, men especially, like or even tolerate my true, natural, unbridled self.
Wow. That's a difficult pill to swallow. Now, I'm sure that my friends will of course disagree with me on this point & I can certainly see why. But thinking back to the time I spent in Idaho, Utah and now Georgia, it's quite clear to me that I am not a typical girl.
I am not only an a-typical girl, but I'm not your average Mormon girl either.
Taylor Swift is not my favorite singer. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or The Singles Ward are not my favorite movies. Downeast Outfitters is not my favorite clothing store. I don't say "Oh my heck," or colloquials such as "Totes adorbs" or "froyo." I do not have platinum blonde hair & I don't get eyelash extensions. Twilight and Gossip Girl are not my favorite books. I did not major in Elementary Education or Marriage & Family Studies at BYU-Idaho & I could never in good conscious watch Glee or One Tree Hill or Vampire Diaries.
I have naturally mousy brown hair. I look terrible without makeup on. I can't remember the last time I got a manicure. I have watched Schindler's List, Die Hard & the Hangover. I have listened to music from Breaking Benjamin to John Denver and everything in between. I swear more often than I would care to admit & I sometimes make dirty jokes. I want to be more than just a housewife & a homemaker--I want a career & my own aspirations. I do not have a direct lineage that dates back to Joseph Smith or Brigham Young and my family's favorite Christmas movie is Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation.
I am an anomaly when it comes to Mormons and especially Mormon girls.
And I'm not really saying this to get attention or to complain. I'm quite proud of the fact that I'm not normal even for a "peculiar people." This just means that the man who I end up with, whether in this life or the next, will be just as strange and just as abnormal as I am. I believe it's a requirement for him to be able to put up with my shenanigans.
However, it does get a bit disconcerting and oftentimes can lead to loneliness when I am sometimes surrounded by men who are looking for a brand of Mormon women. When I'm surrounded by men who want a girl solely to keep house for them and bare children because that's all that they're good for. To come in contact with men who want trophy wives that enjoy nothing more than stroking their ego after they come home from work every night.
I'm not saying any of this to bash on marriage & family. Nor am I trying to pigeon-hole every Mormon girl that I've been acquainted with. I'd, of course, like to be a wife and a mom someday. & I, of course, know plenty of girls that don't fit the standard I've painted earlier.
All I'm saying is, that it seems to me that the majority of men I've met in my Mormon culture, aside from a few I've known & dated, have an image in their mind of what their future wife looks & acts like. And usually, I don't fit that archetype.
I never have & I don't believe I ever will.
And yet at this dance, it dawned on me that perhaps the reason why I had so many relationships in so little amount of time was because I did hid behind a carefully placed facade. And that they ended all too quickly because the alleged "boyfriend" began to see through it & didn't like what he saw.
He would see that at times I was short-tempered, sometimes irreverent, obnoxious, slightly volatile, irrational, rash & childish. He would see how eager I was to please, to prevent him from leaving me as so many other men had in my past. He would see me as a broken doll, far beyond repair. He would see the things I enjoyed, such as the Muppets & Beauty & the Beast, and was bemused as to why I was in my twenties & still watching silly, puerile shows. And he would see how sensitive I was, crying at certain scenes in movies and even ranting & raving about characters in a book that were completely fictional and would think how ridiculous and crazy I was for letting things affect me the way that they do.
Well, it's rather obvious that they weren't for me anyway. & although I'm not proud of my defects, if I could accept theirs, it was only logical that they should accept mine as well.
So at the end of this rather lengthy blog post, what's the point? So what?
Well, I know I'm not alone in being strange & weird. I've noticed that I'm attracted to the "black sheep" or the "rejects" or even the individuals who have a past or a story that's unlike my own. People who are different almost to the point of being outsiders.
I know that I have sometimes dated & surrounded myself with men who did not accept me for who I am, and were either scared off or put off by my personality.
And I also know that perhaps now, at the ripe age of 24, I'm finally comfortable with who I am.