August 29, 2008

on the personal inventory...

As I mentioned a bit before, I've been going through my own, little personal inventory, so to speak. I've been thinking alot about how much I've changed and grown in the last six years or so, and although I'm quite proud in some respects, I'm also disappointed in myself, too. I'm not the worst person I know, but I guess I've reached an age where I actually have things I'd go back and change if I had the chance. And I don't think I like that very much.

(On a side note, I took this photo after I decided to spend more time than necessary attempting to curl my hair. It originally looked decent, but then slowly shifted into a form that was fuzzy beyond all human decency. When I become rich and famous my husband becomes rich and famous, my first investment will be a personal hair stylist that will be here at the snap of my fingers. Amen.)

Anyway. Personal inventory. Yes, that's where I was.

Sometimes I slip back into memories of when I was a perpetually happy, seventeen-year-old, daydreaming theatre geek. Very sheltered, but I was okay with that. Slightly naive, but I was okay with that. Never-been-kissed, and of course I was so not okay with that. Homeschooled, but I swear I didn't wear denim jumpers and I know nothing about cows, so don't you dare stereotype me. I guess that it's only natural that I've gone on to experience more of the world, make a few mistakes along the way. But there are certainly decisions I wish I could change; stupid things I've done where doing the right thing should have been the easier choice. The better answer should have been the first one to reach my lips. But somehow, it wasn't - for a variety of different reasons, I guess. Mostly, I think it's this wanting to not be put into the "good girl" box, as I was put into for most of my life.

Now, here's the thing. I'm very hard on myself. I'm sure that I could spill all my secrets right here and some of you would roll your eyes and say, "Puh-lease. That's the worst of it? Calm down, crazy-pants. You're like a nun compared to some of my friends." But I guess I've always held myself to this unattainable high-standard and deal with too much guilt because of it.

Part of it is the whole "middle child" mentality. (I have five sisters, but the last two are much younger and growing up I was technically the middle child.) I was always the one who was the mediator, the one who was quite self sufficient and didn't demand much attention, the one who worked hard to please everyone, the one who wanted to make sure everyone was happy. My mom tells me that even when I was little and had done something wrong, all they'd have to do was look at me and I'd burst into tears. I've never been grounded, and I only remember a handful of times where my parents were genuinely angry with me. (One night I stayed out until after midnight with my boyfriend, and my mom was waiting there, completely angry that I didn't call. I remember yelling back, "IF THIS IS THE WORST THING I'VE EVER DONE, THEN I THINK WE'RE OKAY, RIGHT? RIGHT?" Of course, I still went to bed that night with a crushing guilt and although I still thought I was right, I'm pretty sure I bawled my eyes out knowing my mom was upset with me.)

Yes, I guess you could say I was a slight goodie-goodie. Not in a snooty way, I hope, but more in a I-never-want-to-disappoint-anyone way.

Since moving to California and being somewhat on my own for part of that time, I've been able to test the waters a bit more. Rebel in my own small way. Part of me wanted to change this saintly view people had of me, which sounds terrible, but I'm sure someone else must be able to relate to that.

When I first moved here, I was nineteen and incredibly naive. I remember at my first job, people would talk about things that some would deem "inappropriate" and they would always look at me and give me this condescending look, saying something like, "Oh, you should cover your ears for this." They knew I was Christian, they knew where I came from, they knew about my morals - you should have been there for the conversation about my promise ring:

coworkers: "What's that ring for?"
me: "Oh, um. It's a promise ring."
coworkers: "You're seeing someone?"
me: "No, it's from my dad."
coworkers: (blank stare.)
me: "It's a promise - er, purity ring?"
coworkers: "What's that mean."
me: "It means, well, that I am saving myself until marriage. It's sort of a symbol of that, I guess."
coworkers: "WHAT? NO SEX? How old are you?"
me: "Nineteen."
coworkers: "Woooow. I could never do that."

After a while I guess I wanted to test a bit of my own boundaries. To push my self out of that box that people had automatically put me into. All I wanted to do was show people, "See? I know about this and that! I'm fun! I'm not up-tight! Don't you see it now?" And ironically, after several years, I now would love to revert back to that sweet, demure, will-do-no-wrong girl that people saw me as.

I know that people certainly don't see me as this crazy, worldly, party-girl, but I know that I give off the wrong vibe in certain situations. Especially when I'm with certain people. It's odd, too, because I always know when I'm acting. I put on a show like, "Hey! This is me! Seriously!" But it's not. And I know it's not. I'm either trying to blend in with everyone, or to hide insecurities, or something to that effect.

Since my birthday, I've made a few decisions. Resolutions, if you will. And I figured it may be beneficial to write them all down:

I will be more true to myself. I will be more true to what I believe in, and be a better example of those things. I will be more positive about myself. I will be more positive about the world around me. I will give myself more credit for all I have accomplished, all I am, and all I'm presently doing.

And I really mean it this time.

27 comments :

  1. Holy crap. Hi, I must be your twin sister. Seriously. I'll email you my comments...

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  2. Oh, yes. I wore a promise ring until I got married, when I ceremoniously put it into my jewelry box that morning. It was a weird conversation to have with my co-workers, and they'd always be like, "Oh. That's ... nice."

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  3. Oh wow! Sounds like some heavy duty self reflection. Growth... Sounds like God is molding and shaping you, which is painful sometimes but important. Good for you for listening!

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  4. Those are awesome resolutions!

    "To thine ownself be true" is one of my favorite quotes. I even have a piece of jewelry inscribed with it.

    I love self reflection.

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  5. and THAT is why I love you! haha. We are so alike, it's scary... down to the conversations with other people about promise rings and trying to 'prove' that we're not really all that innocent. I think it's pretty typical of young Christian girls... I just wish I would've known what I do now... and how blessed I was to have avoided all those wordly things before I decided to go try them all out. I could have saved myself (and my family) a ton of grief!

    I love your resolutions. :)

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  6. you are such a doll. seriously, one of the best posts you've written - and you are the shit when it comes to writing amazing posts.

    do stand up for yourself, and what you believe in. you are absolutely lovely, and don't need to try to show that to anyone.

    oh and also? the picture is beautiful.

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  7. It's good to reflect like that, and I'm glad you plan on giving yourself more credit for what you've achieved. I'm easily guilt-tripped into things as well, and as much as I'm trying to let go of that it still gets to me a lot.

    And I don't think people should make such a big deal about you wearing a purity ring. I think it's a really good thing! These days you hear about 13 year old girls doing it and I can't help but wonder how they will feel about that later, looking back on what they did...

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  8. I'm sure you'll get several more girls who claim they are seriously the same person as you - so I'll just say: Ohmylordy, I can completely relate to this.

    I am with you all the way - constantly wanting to please others, not let anyone down. (My mom recently told me that if I was the only child she'd had, she'd think parenting was easy. My 4 younger siblings set her straight.) I think I tried so hard to be what my family and teachers wanted me to be. A lot of that got me where I am today.

    Also because of all this - I like to think of myself as a peacemaker. I'm super sensitive to others' feelings, so I choose my words carefully. (Although, I was definitely a tattletale growning up. Goodie-goodie to the MAX over here!)

    But, on the flip side, I've recently found that when my opinion differs from my parents (i.e. politics), I have a reallly hard time expressing myself. I don't want to disagree.

    Ever.

    I'm still trying sort out the pros and cons of this personality trait of mine.

    I can also completely relate to wanting to break your goodie-goodie reputation. Oh, how I can understand.

    There were several bouts in college when I pretended: "Yeah! Woohoo, I love to drink and go clubbing! Let's meet some boys!" When I was so obiviously faking it. I was never much of a partier, and now that I've come to embrace that instead of hide that, I'm much happier.

    I'll admit, though: I'm still too ashamed to suggest, "How about Scrabble & 30 Rock with some hot chocolate at my place?" :)

    My Christian good girl image has yet to be shattered.

    [Oh my, this is insanely long.]

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  9. Kinda felt like myself was talking to me when I read that. Those conversations and people contantly trying to "break" the good girl. Ah, stupid idiots. THEY were they ones missing out.

    The funny thing is that our society (esp. the OC) is built on everything contradictory to the morality I have set myself up for. What is the norm and television and media portray as that norm and idealistic, are so ass backwards... and what's sad is that so many people are caught up in that destructive thought process. YOU are so much more admireable that anyone who would ever look at you and not agree with your inner core.

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  10. Wonderful post, Kerri! It's always great to learn more about ourselves and strive to be better people. I know I want to be a nicer person and improve myself ... And goooo goody-two shoes! I am really glad that I never smoked pot and that I never had my first drink until I was 20 1/2. I think we gotta embrace the goody-two shoe-ness! Work it! Even though you say you want to become a better person, all of your internet besties love you just how you are! xoxox. Sorry I felt like this comment repeated itself a lot. ahh! Anyways, yes, you should be true to yourself and what your heart tells you -- your real friends will love and respect you for it!

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  11. dearie, you know where you came from, who you are (presently), and is on the right track to becoming the best you can be. (wow, do i sound like an army recruiter?)

    which is a lot more than most can say about themselves (including me!)

    consider yourself very lucky.

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  12. i would definitely like to revert back to my young self sometimes too. granted it is also nice to reflect back on those times and see how much i've changed and clearly you are doing the same. i hope you continue to do well in your reflections and growth :)

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  13. I don't think we ever stop taking that time to think about how we'd like to better ourselves.

    I've been doing so, as well, at 29.

    You remind me a lot of myself at 24 - I had many of the same worries and insecurities- and I applaud you for sharing your thoughts with us.

    Your writing is open, honest, and a joy to read.

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  14. I'm going to follow the lead and say OMG we're like the SAME! Except a little different. I definitely grew up being a goody goody. Tattle-ness and all. Then I went to college, but to be honest I didn't change much. I had suite mates who were major partiers and that just reinforced my ideals that the party lifestyle was not for me. To be honest I withdrew even more into myself and just didn't do well at all.

    I endured a slew of bad roommates, including one whos 'rebel phase' I got to witness first hand while she was my roommate. Once again this helped me know who I was. And who I was, was not that.

    After I graduated college I realized something huge, experiencing all these different lifestyles through my roommates, while driving me crazy, did help me grow to be a better person. I know more about myself. I guess you could say I rebelled, but not in ways that I regret now whatsoever. It just showed me that "good v. bad" varies from person to person. Compared to the average person I am most definitely a huge goody goody, but that is not what defines me.

    :)

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  15. I can relate to you so much with the never wanting to be a disappointment to anybody. I had, and still have, such a hard time dealing with this- to the point where sometimes I feel like I'm working too hard to make sure other people aren't getting disappointed, even if I get disappointed in the process.
    Good for you for reflecting like this and seeing the changes you'd like to make!

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  16. "My mom tells me that even when I was little and had done something wrong, all they'd have to do was look at me and I'd burst into tears."

    Those have been my words for many years. Nowadays when I speak them it's because I'm reminding myself that the softness that caused me to be that way is something I want to try and recover. After years of being angry over things that were painful, but essential to go through, I'm in a place where I can try to pull that small child back to the surface and be a little more tender from time to time.

    I think it's important to hold on to the softness if you can, even as you grow and become more confident and "seasoned." I can relate to the life you've lived as I was raised in a Christian family, many siblings older and mostly much younger, promise ring (which was the most significant experience of my life) and on and on... I've learned more and experienced life "since then" which has allowed me to live the way I feel called to live without regard for others judgements, but the humility is always valid. I don't have any regrets about anything in my life unless it has to do with having hurt someone unintentionally. Having stayed true to the intentions of that ring, I don't have the baggage of failed or painful relationships and I never hurt myself. I'm thankful for the people-pleasing nature that carried me through my youth unscathed and for the fear we type-A ladies tend to have which causes us to be a bit more guarding of our selves.

    I hope you find as you continue to reflect that you don't even have to work at any of this. That's the beauty of looking understanding reconciliation. The work has already been done for us, we just have to let go and love and see that there are so many things to enjoy in this life. Our refinement is out of our hands~

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  17. I was also one of the weird ones who waited. And I am so glad I did. Totally worth it for both of us.

    No matter what people choose as the course for their life the important thing is choosing that path because they feel that is who they are.

    Doing that is not always easy, as you know, but commendable when it is accomplished. Good for you for constantly striving to make yourself better for you. So very admirable.

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  18. Wow! That post really made me think. I think I'm in the same frame of mind as you now (maybe it's the whole moving away from the early 20's thing).

    But I think it's great that you kept to your morals as it can be so hard hey!

    Hehe don't worry if you're a goody two shoes...I've been sorta of like that for most of my life. I could write a whole letter about this (maybe I will...we'll see)

    Anyway, it's great that you're growing and being molded into the person that you are =)

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  19. Psst...Kerri, sent you some blog love - go check it out :)

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  20. This is going to sound absolutely cheesy and whatnot, but I just wanted to let you know that you're really an inspiration to me. I just moved into college and everything is sort of a blur right now. Things are awkward and weird and not necessarily in a bad way, they just are. Everyone is trying to be someone they're not and I guess it'd be easy to get caught up in that. After reading your entry, I realize that I shouldn't try to make friends, I should let it happen if its going to. I shouldn't hold back the things that make me me to impress strangers. You're like my own personal Sally, minus the tapes. So, thanks.

    :)

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  21. I can so relate to a lot of this. I won't lie-- not ALL of it. But a lot. Especially the part about wanting to do no wrong and bursting into tears if someone even looked at you when you did. I still do that. Except without the tears, I guess, for the most part. I wonder how I ended up this way? I'm noticing a trend of self-reflection this weekend among my favorite bloggers. Including myself. Don't be surprised if you find a similar post on Caffeinate Me in a few days. :)

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  22. This was a great post. I can really relate to a lot of what you wrote. I grew up quite sheltered in a small town. I started my rebelling in high school. Our town was so small & my parents were teachers...so I was too scared to rebel too much because I knew anything I did would immediately be town gossip.

    I haven't really returned to my "goodie goodie" ways. But I think I'm getting closer to a place where I can be who I want to be and not be as concered with putting on a show for my friends.

    Thanks for sharing :)

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  23. I love your blog! I grew up with the same background.
    My husband and I dated 8 years before we got married, and were virgins!

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  24. Not to many people stand for anything anymore, I'm glad you do.

    My website
    http://www.jewelrypromiserings.com/

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  25. Wow this post hit home because it sounds like we're a lot alike. Not enough to be a twin or anything but our lives are/were similar. I was a goody-goody and like you, I wanted to change that do something the real me wouldn't do.

    I did it and regretted it for a while. In the end, I realized, that I needed to do it to get where I am and be who I am. I learned from it and moved on.

    Today, I'm back to where I should be.. I am me again and I'm happy about it. But it was a learning experience and a growing experience.

    Good for you for being you again. My cousin actually had a purity ring or promise ring, whatever you want to call it, and well, she didn't live up to it. She ended up being in a bad relationship with the guy and then she felt like she had to stay with him so she wouldn't disappoint her family.

    I'm like you: I hate disappointing people and the expectations they have of me. At some point though, fear of disappointing people can become too much and that's where you have to draw the line.

    Great post.. as it forced me look back on my life and who I am today.

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  26. You were homeschooled? And un-kissed at 17?? ME TOO!! (no denim jumpers here either though, thankyouverymuch) I didn't have my first kiss until I was 18-- and it was with the man I married a mere 7 months later. And, like you, I was considered the naive goody-goody (being a minister's daughter did not help to rid me of that tag at all), and HATED it. Oh wow, I could have written this post (and apprently, I am not the only one who feels that way!). Except I wouldn't have said it near as well as you, or with such clarity and beauty. :)
    How much we learn as time goes on... about ourselves, about being true to beliefs and realizing what is precious and good. Good for you on your lovely resolutions, my dear!

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  27. Sometimes it's really hard to just focus in and be yourself - and to be comfortable with that. I don't follow any religion, but reading your promise ring conversation just makes me want to hug you - it drives me insane when people judge, or even just shy away from people like that.

    Be yourself, miss. You seem pretty awesome as you are - you've got nothing to prove and nothing to defend, just enjoy where you're at. = )

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