April 6, 2010

on being a good girl...

I’ve always been a good girl. I can’t help it. 

I’m fairly sure it’s something that’s ingrained in me; this intense need to never disappoint people. This need to please. This nagging conscience that never fails to remind me when I’ve gone off course. This sense of obligation to always be the cheerful girl, the one who goes by the rules, the one you never really have to worry about.

I’m a classic middle child, always prone to being the one to just go along with things without causing much fuss. My parents like to remind me how when I was a little girl, all they’d have to do is give me “a look” when I had done something wrong. I’d crumple into tears and feel awful to have made them angry. I rarely got into any real trouble when I was growing up. In fact, I don’t remember ever being grounded. Not even once.

I’m a mediator. A listener. A dreamer. An optimistic pessimist. Slightly introverted and incredibly sensitive. All those things combined have lead to a fairly intense case of what I like to call The Good Girl Complex.

It’s difficult for me to stray from that. And I suppose that’s how it’s been nearly every day of my life.

It’s a lot of pressure to live up to. I’d never deny that for a second! And, as most girls do at some point, I’ve tried to push the boundaries here and there. To see if there has been some grand adventure that I’ve been missing out on by living life within the lines. But, honestly? At this point in my life, being the “good girl” is something that I cherish more than anything else. It’s almost as though I’ve come full circle, in a way, after a few years of trying to shake what I’ve always been.

When I was a teenager, I never had a rebellious phase. All I wanted to do was fall in love. In a way, that was a good thing. I had these ridiculously high expectations and hopes - fueled by girlish fantasies and whims. I lived in a bubble of wistful journaling and romantic comedies. I looked around me, consumed by the thought that my future husband could be right around the corner. I skipped over most thoughts of partying and making out and anything else that a typical teenager seems to focus on.

I remember being completely confused when I was 17 and someone told me that I was the girl that a guy wants to marry, not date. I wondered why these things were mutually exclusive. I was thrown. I didn’t understand. I wondered what it took to be a girl someone wanted to date. I began lamenting my fate as a complete love pariah (and most likely wrote another wistful journal entry).

In all honesty, I didn’t even have my first kiss until I was 18. I took baby steps, I guess. I did have a few boyfriends after that, but always made sure to stay inside the lines. I never stayed out too late, never went out drinking, never gave too much of myself to any guy I was seeing - even after falling in love for the first time. I always did what was deemed as the right thing. I knew what was expected and making that right decision was always fairly easy for me.

Which is something I figure is quite lucky. It made being "good" quite simple.

A short while later, in an uncharacteristically brave move, I collected my things and headed to Southern California at the age of 19. It was my first taste of independence, and probably the first time that I felt that inkling of desire to fight the image that seemed to follow me everywhere. I was surrounded by more “worldly” coworkers, living in a city that was much more intense than the fairly small town I grew up in, meeting people with completely different lifestyles and attitudes than mine. I moved here being incredibly naive - and I have no doubt that my naivety is something that was basically radiating from my entire being.

I was the little blonde girl from the Northwest. The one wearing her heart on her sleeve, the good girl, the Christian, the one people seemed to always want to take on as some sort of “project”.

“Oh, Kerri! How precious! We’re totally going to make you over!”

For the first time, my resolve started to waver, ever so slightly.

I actually remember being surprised by any rebellious thoughts I had. They were so unfamiliar. Perhaps I should have taken that as a sign; those unnatural feelings of fighting my very nature. Being anything but the way I’d been all my life felt much more like an act than anything else. And I think I lost myself a bit in that act.

During the next few years, I experienced a lot of new things. I made friends with people who I didn’t always understand, but learned to appreciate and adore. I heard stories that made me blush. I went dancing for the first time. I got drunk for the first time. I relished in those moments when I wasn’t singled out as the “good girl”, for once being seen as one of the group, someone who understood the world, someone who wasn’t afraid, someone who was just out to have fun. It felt nice to blend in.

Of course, the whole time I didn’t feel much like “me”. And I knew it. After a certain point, I realized that I didn’t really feel like I was discovering something new about myself; instead, I felt like I was losing something. I’d fight my inner conscience and tell myself I was just figuring out who I was. That this was just the natural progression of life. That there was only so long I could carry on the good girl image before “growing up” and being like everyone else.

Which is something I’ve recently learned to be quite untrue.

As I look back on those few years, I wish - more than anything - that I’d never tried to be someone other than who I am. I know it sounds ridiculously cliché, but it’s true. And, sure, there are things that each of us must experience and discover as we go through life. Everyone manages to get a little too drunk, kisses the wrong boy, says things they shouldn’t say, makes friends with the wrong people, becomes a bit too self-indulgent. But I wish that I would have done those things (and not done some of those things, I suppose) without compromising what I am.

Which is, of course, a good girl.

I’m always going to worry too much about what people think. I’m always going to try too hard to do the right thing. I’m always going to get an achy feeling when I break a rule. Most curse words will sound contrived coming from my mouth. I’ll never have the ability to take a shot without looking absolutely ridiculous. I’ll never be the life of the party. I’ll be most comfortable on the couch at home, drinking maybe a bit too much wine and laughing with my husband while we watch reality television.

It still feels good to break out of my shell every now and again - and I still fight constantly to find the happy medium between who I am and who I think I should be. I still make mistakes and end up curled under the covers when I realize the person I’ve portrayed isn’t the actual girl I am inside. I still manage to say things I regret and do things I regret and wonder all the while why I should ever be ashamed to show the world what I am, pure and simple.

Because, really? I’m happy being a good girl. And if that means that I’m the one staying home on a Friday night, playing scrabble with my husband while drinking Pinot Grigio out of a coffee mug, then so be it. Those are the moments when I feel most like myself, anyway.

At this point in life, whenever anyone alludes to the fact that I’m a good girl, I smile. I own it. Because it’s who I am. It’s who I’ve always been.

And that’s probably the most important thing each of us can discover, right?

60 comments :

  1. Jessica @ How Sweet4/6/10, 7:19 PM

    I never had a rebellious phase either, and I still worry about what everyone else things. Glad I am not alone. :) I am proud of being a good girl, too.

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  2. love this post. In fact, my blog is actually called 'thegoodgirlblogs.blogspot.com' (ok, shameless plug..). I've followed your blog for a while but never commented and I must say, its so nice to follow someone so much like me. You always manage to sum up things exactly how I would and I kind of get giddy and think 'im exactly like that!'. Anyway, pointless rambling aside, glad youve embraced your good side. I love mine too :)

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  3. I remember the things I used to try thinking I was pushing the boundaries of being a good girl. They were foolish things, even though they weren't really bad at all, but it was a big deal to me back then to "prove" I wasn't only a goodie-two-shoes. :D I definitely relate to your experience and I'm another good girl living it out proud and true.

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  4. And this is why you're so endearing & precious.

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  5. Same here. And I'm figuring out right now how to find that balance. I *want* to be outgoing and the life of the party but I know that's not me. At all. I hope to come to terms with being a good girl one day.

    And I also look ridiculous taking a shot.

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  6. Love this post! I wish more women (especially at a young age) would be willing to accept being "the good girl." It's not so bad. In fact, it's kind of wonderful. :)

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  7. Aghh, I love you so much. Seriously.

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  8. I think this is great though! I've always been the good girl to but there came a time of rebellion in my teens years which I wish so much that I could take back. But I have learnt to move on and I really hope I can always be a 'good girl'.

    I think your sweet and I think it has made you...you. Embrace it :)

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  10. URGH!!! I think I just deleted my whole post... Oh well, I'll make this one sorter.

    Kerri, I love this post. Never worry about who you are. You seem like a truly awesome, fun person. I love your blog.

    From 13 until 16, I was dating my now wife. At 16, we were engaged. I didn't care about dating, boys, girls, dancing, partying, going out... None of that. All I looked forward to was being with Jen and being a wife. At 18, I left my "home" and went to my actual home. With Jen. Not even a month later, we got married.

    And here we are, almost three years later. I have my share of "wild" traits. I smoke, I swear, I know I'll drink once I turn 21, I love Vegas... But on the other hand, all I truly care about is being home, with Jen. I live for our nights spent watching TV and playing games. I love going out, just her and me, shopping.

    I've never been interested in partying and when I am old enough to drink, it'll probably be in the comfort of our own home, unless we're on vacation.

    A lot of people our age cannot understand why we're our own little "group" and they can't understand what's so awesome about spending time together, just her and me, snuggly at home. But that's just who we are. And we love it.

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  11. I've never identified with any post more than this one. Honestly. I have a problem with self proclaimed "good girls" (and most other groups) but you wrote in a way that didn't turn me off. It's honest. What you wrote is so much like my life, only I hit my "rebellious" phase when I was 22 and it wasn't that rebellious. Thank you for writing this, because it really helps me to put into perspective what this goody-goody lifestyle has done for me. It IS me. And I think that's most important for me to come to terms with :)

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  12. That's sweet. Seriously. I don't think there's anything wrong being the way you are. I also sometimes think that when people try different things it's not that you're only going against what you are, I think we as people want to experience different things, we're curious as to how "the other side" works. There's nothing wrong with that either. Keep being the good girl, it looks good on you :)

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  13. I was a lot like that growing up too. I didn't touch alcohol, didn't go to parties... I had a solid base of friends who didn't do "bad" things and consequently I didn't either. There are just certain things I've never had the desire to do or try out, and I feel like I turned out pretty well because of it. Good for you for figuring out who you are and embracing it!

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  14. I love this! you encompass sooo many things about me, too.

    from being a middle child, the 'good girl', always testing the waters a bit, wanting to fall in love...

    I love that you embrace your good girl. I should stop fighting mine so much.

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  15. I think life's complete when you love being yourself and what you do. A lot of people still try to go there, Kerri.:)

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  16. I read every single word of this; every single word.
    I'm only 16, but up until more or less that age in your post I've related to you (except for the middle child, which is worse because since I'm the oldest everything is more strict).

    I'm a good girl, an all-around nerd and am quite comfortable with that.

    It really is nice to see another one of us make it far in life.
    Thanks for all the inspiration<3

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  17. I'm very much a good girl too. In fact, I identified with pretty much everything about this post. I sort of tested my limits when I was in college (got drunk, made out, stayed out late) but nothing too extreme. And now here I am, living a somewhat wholesome life where I stay in way more than I go out. I sometimes feel bad when my introverted ways don't make me "the life of the party" or super exciting, but you know what? This is me. Good girl fist bump?

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  18. I'm with you. I never had the desire to do anything really stupid, taking too seriously the mistakes that other people have made. But I always sort of felt like I should have been a little more "dangerous."

    I think as I get older I feel more confident in taking chances, chances that aren't stupid but are still a little bit riskier.

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  19. I can so relate to this post. I've always been the good girl, too, and I personally don't see anything wrong with it at all.
    Just other people always thought they needed to try and "fix" me (whatever that means).

    I, too, tried to push the boundaries a couple of times, thinking that I should be different. But I realized: that's not me.

    Thank you for writing this. I know that you completely understand.

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  20. Kerri, I like this. I too have been the good girl. Didn't have MY first kiss until 19 in fact. Once I got the first one over with, it made the others easier. Sometimes it feels silly being the grown up good girl with few rebel stories to tell, but then others it feels just fine when you don't regret most of the decisions you've made. Scrabble, btw, is one of my bf and I's favorite games to play together as well. That and Uno.

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  22. I love exactly who you are.

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  23. This post hit me straight on the heart - I could say exactly the same thing about myself! Sometimes I wonder if most girls are 'good', even if they hide it well; surely most people want someone to curl up on the couch with at the end of the day? :-)

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  24. Beautifully written.

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  25. Lovely, eloquent post. As usual, but still, I enjoyed it thoroughly. And plan to share it with a few of my fellow "good girl" friends. ;)

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  26. well said, well said :) coming from one labeled "good girl" to another, i couldn't have said it better myself. i love the way you write, kerri. & we have way too much in common. middle child syndrome, unite! that didn't make sense, but whatever. ha.

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  27. I can very much relate to parts of this post. I too am a good girl, and uite proud of that. There were a few years there where I pushed boundaries. I wasn't true to my good girl self, and looking back I am a little bummed by some of the things i did to fit in, to make friends, and to find love. When I move out to CA I got a little of my good girl self back. I am a people pleaser, a true romantic, and another girl who would rather sit at home drinking pinot grigio (also out of a coffee cup b/c I'm classy that way) playing board games or watching movies. I am ok with that!

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  28. I thought I was always a good girl but I figured out that I am more of a pleaser depending on where I am and what crowd of people I am with. In school, I pleased my teacher and myself with good grades. At work, I please my boss by working hard and getting things done. I also please people around me: I have learned to adapt to people. When I am around my sister-in-law - a vegan who has facial tattoos and piercings - we talk about things she likes and adores. When I am around my physicist friend, we talk about geeky stuff. It's weird but I believe I am pretty good at understanding where people are coming from. Part of it probably originates in my foreign exchange year and my boarding school years during which I had to adapt to many many different situations.

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  29. Look at your comments. Look at all those who RELATE. Who are IN THE SAME BOAT. To me, that tells me that being the "good girl" isn't a reason to feel out of place... but to realize that the other non-good girls are just LOUDER. So they seem to be the majority... but looking at these responses I think they are ust that, LOUDER, and not the norm. :)

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  30. I relate to this post so completely. I have a hard time finding "going out" clothes because even my clothes are pretty/pastel/good girl clothes and I LIKE staying home with my hubby drinking wine or coffee on the patio and renting a movie on a Friday night more than any "scene" out!

    One thing I think you may find interesting- my husband and I did see a marriage counselor for a time- and she had us take this personality profile test- it helped us both to understand who we were even better- and for me- solidified my personality as "the good girl" as not being so odd, or uncommon- but legit and good and a happy thing for me. Once my husband took it- it also was neat to learn about some of the things that make him who he is. Very cool thing to try if you're curious- here is the link: http://bitbike.com/cgi-bin/pt?language=en

    After you get your result, check out all of the links with info about your personality type- that's the most interesting part.

    I would be willing to bet you and I have the same four-letter personality profile... if you take it, let me know what you get! :-)

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  31. i think it's amazing when you find someone that identifies with you on so many levels. i enjoy your writing. i find myself thinking, "geez... is she writing my feelings for me?" quite a bit. probably better that you do it... i'm not a fabulous writer! i'll just keep reading...

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  32. Wow. I can totally relate to this blog! I also agree that it's not necessarily a bad thing to be a 'good girl' though I don't regret any of the things I did in my 'rebellious phase' - maybe that's because it wasn't really that rebellious!

    Best wishes,
    Blue Eyes xx

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  33. I went through a rebellious phase and I didn't think I did anything bad... I still don't think did. I mean of course I learned from my mistakes by myself. My parents said I was soo horrible as a teenager, oops. Probably because I was hanging out with older kids. I'm just glad I don't regret anything I did. I consider it as an experience.

    You're an awesome person! :)

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  34. Seriously? I see so many similarities between us. I am a good girl and I relish this role. I love the fact that I can be naive and innocent. I don't care about living the life of a "normal" twenty-something of partying, drinking too much, and kissing boys all over the place. I'd rather live a quiet life and not worry about being someone I'm not. Love this post!

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  35. I'm new here, but can I just say that you described my life better than I could have. And you made me feel so proud to be who I am. Being a good girl is oh so good!

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  36. Kerri, I really (REALLY.) like this post... and, though I've always considered myself a little rough around the edges, I'm surprised how much I identify with the good girls.

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  37. I am exactly the same way and you said it so beautifully. When I was in high school, once a couple girls referred to me as a 'goody-goody' meaning to it be derogatory but I responded "yep, that's me!" and it shut them up.

    It's who I am and I'm proud of it!

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  38. I absolutely loved reading this post. I can relate with the middle-child stuff, although I did have a bit of a rebellious phase in high school (and then again in college). But what I really love is that you "own it" -- you're inspiring other people (me, at least) to own who they are, whether it's what people expect of them or not. Thanks for sharing!

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  39. i can definitely relate to this even though i was the oldest i was definitely the good girl. pretty much always have been and it's okay. sometimes i pushed the limits of getting into trouble but since i rarely did it it was never that big or anything. and if it makes you feel any better, i didn't have my first kiss until i was 16 and i thought i was the last person in the world to get kissed, haha.

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  40. I love that you're just comfortable with you you are, and that's your bottom line! My friends and I got into a lot of trouble growing up trying to one up each other, and while I was always chicken enough to back down and be the lame one, they got into some situations that were just really, really awful. And had the idea that being rebellious and trying to one up the other people around them not been there? I think they would be different people.

    If being a good girl means you get to opt out of that stuff, I think you should teach courses. And while I really bought into the idea of being tough and cool while I was growing up, I'm loving being a good girl now that I'm in my 20s =)

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  41. I remember wishing that I could be like the 'bad girls' growing up and just not care about the rules and the consequences. I tried to be the 'bad girl' a handful of times and it always ended badly. I have too much of a guilt complex to actually enjoy breaking the rules.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with being the 'good girl'.

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  42. I love this.

    I've done some rebellious things. Some mean, crappy things. Some maybesortaslutty things.

    But I've always been a good girl. And I will always think that about myself.

    It's nice to hear from one (maybe one more bona fide than me) who's happy with it & herself & coming to terms with it. <3

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  43. Such a well written post, miss! What I've come to realize in the past couple years is how truly caring I am, and have always been. I'm certainly not a good girl - I take shots and I dance and party with the best of 'em, but I care, which is something I masked quite a bit between 15 and 19. I care about my friends and my family and the stranger walking down the street, and I've really grown into the person who makes sure all those people know it. It makes me so happy. It also means I get burned a bit by giving too much of myself emotionally, and not getting anything in return, but overall it is so, so worth it.

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  44. I like that you distinguish between being good and being brave. Your solo move to California required courage, and I'd argue that marrying young and exposing personal thoughts to the blog world require courage, too. :) Growing up, I earned the good girl label sort of against my will, and it frustrated me when others presumed being good meant being safe. Comparatively, good girls might spend their time in tame ways, but good girls are also pretty bold and, like you, accomplish amazing things.

    Thanks for this post!

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  45. Too funny, my bestie and I were totally the good girls in high school...and then came college. Ah ha ha

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  46. It was nice to read this. I have always been told that I am a good girl, too! I always took it as being a bad thing, but now I am going to embrace it. Thank You!

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  47. I love this post too! This is Sierra by the way. I could relate to it on so many levels, I too grew up as a "good girl" and this is very much me. I also grew up in Ogden, UT, a small town and as a Christian. Still am and what you described is very much me. I love how you wrote this, so sincere and not apologizing for who you are. I too strive for this mind set daily and I admire you for your convictions. :)

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  48. soooo I could've pretty much written this post. maybe not the part about moving to Cali at age 19, but just about everything else :)

    thank you for voicing what i would like to so eloquently!

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  49. Kerri, I loooove this post! So sweetly written. I'm such a good girl too. I much rather go to a knitting group or stay at home baking any day. I recycle (religiously), I do volunteer work in my community, I get good grades in school, I'm always respectful and courteous to others, I'm a people pleaser to the core, and I take really good care of my family. I'm not perfect, but I do strive to do the right thing. I certainly have had times where I've felt self conscious about these traits too, but it is who I am, and I embrace it. Thank you for being the voice for us good girls, you are a peach! Good girls united!!!

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  50. Thank you so much for that wonderful post. At almost each and every line you wrote I thought of myself. I´m the type of good girl too and sometimes it seems hard to defend yourself for being who you are. People think you are missing out on so much. I´m 23 years old and seriously now I know that I´m on the best way with being a good girl. Because that´s who I am and that fact makes it my life. I will be comfortable with that for the rest of my life. I am so thankful for that feeling and you made me realize that again! Thank you so much. :-)

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  51. This... is amazing! I feel like I could have written this post ... except I never moved to California.

    This was beautifully written.

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  52. You're absolutely right.

    When friends introduce me as "The Good Girl" I've just taken to flashing a cheshire grin, and saying "I yam what I yam."

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  53. ummm i pretty much love this post. i am that person as well. seriously. i was literally told this weekend that a friend of mine's first impression of me wast that I was a "goody too shoes!" i think i'm going through that phase of my life right now where i am getting ready to graduate college, get married and i'm away from my parents. I don't know... I think once I get married and start to figure life out things will be very different. I will ALWAYS be the "good christian girl" as well. It's a good thing to be i feel like!!!

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  54. great post! I have to say "Twenty-five. Happily married. Has the tendency to channel Monica Geller. Not responsible for anything said after three glasses of wine." sounds exactly like me! so you must be pretty cool. :) love your blog.

    Nicole visiting from
    http://lettersfromcoco.blogspot.com/

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  55. I think you've touched a heart chord...I think that part of every girl can identify with this post. I know I can. I'm 19 and just got my first kiss last month...I tried to be someone else and it didn't work. Thanks for being honest and inspiring us/me to be ourselves. This is the first time I've read your blog, and I think it's great.

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  56. I absolutely LOVE how you said that you realized you weren't discovering something about yourself, but losing something. That's a perfect way to describe it.

    I am the exact same way. I like being the good girl, but the only problem I run into is when people feel like they can't be real or honest with me because they are ashamed or embarrassed to admit their struggles. I'm not perfect, but even if I haven't gone through something I will never, ever judge someone when they're just being real.

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  57. I was always the good girl. I don't know if my parents realized how easy they had it. My sister and I were fiercely competitive so we both wanted to be the perfect daughter, so we were both good girls, I guess. I maybe hit my "rebellious" stage in college... even then, it's not that I broke rules, I just started stretching the boundaries of what was okay. One of my older friends that I lived with in the dorms one day said she was worried that eventually I was going to just snap and slide down this bad-girl path because I was crawling out of my own skin and wanted to be... different. And I never really did, although I've definitely changed a lot since then. I'm still a good girl, I guess... Just not as good as I used to be. ;)

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  58. do good girls finish last like good boys do much of the time? im a good boy but i feel kinda pathetic because of my lousy results when it comes to dating. what i mean is - all the good girls go straight to the jerks - and i am not the type to trick you out of your clothes - leave you pregnant and dump you. to me - that just plain puts a very nasty taste in my mouth. im more of the type that if i have sex with a woman - and she gets pregnant - i WILL stand up to the plate and take responsibility for my actions(which many jerks will not do),

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  59. I've been told that I'm the girl a guy wants to take home to his mother and that i'm the marrying type. I'd always respond to that by saying, "but guys don't WANT to get married" haha. I now see there are many benefits to being the good girl, but it's hard for me to see people having fun. But I've never been to a party in my life, always want to please people etc. I relate to your post completely, but it seems to me that people only admire bad girls. The bad girls get everything. I haven't dated anyone since high school and that was hardly a relationship. It was more like a friendship. If that. I just feel like I care too much, I'm too this and I'm too that. I just wish I wasn't a "too" anymore and I was just me...

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  60. I've visited your site plenty of times but I admit, I haven't gotten around to reading this particular post, until now.

    I relate so much to this. I get mad fun of all the time for being so "closed minded" they say when all I want to do is whats right.

    I was 20 when I had my first boyfriend (We're still together after 2+ years) and we still have yet to have our first kiss. We both think it would be so romantic if we shared our first kiss on our wedding day but we get grief from everyone we come across.

    Anyway, thanks for this post. It's really nice to know that there are still good people in this world.

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