For me, it’s Jenna Kutcher. Or some pseudo-version of her mixed with Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed. With a dash of Frida Kahlo, maybe, or Flannery O’Connor. Back when I was 6, I thought I could grow up to be Belle from Beauty & The Beast. When I was 13, I took a magazine-sized poster of Mandy Moore to my hairdresser so we could have the exact same pop-edgy look. And when I was 18, I spent hours pouring over Ree Drummond’s memoir, dreaming of a life in which I might meet my own “cowboy”.
You see, we all have a certain kind of someone we’d like to “be”. We might envy their haircut, their style, their business savvy, or their perfectly-curated Instafeed. We might wish we had their confidence, their 6-pack abs, or their naturally-beautiful #nofilter complexion. (Once upon a time, my own mother sewed her own western-inspired shirts in the style of John Denver. Now that’s commitment.) But in a way, it’s actually a good thing to know what we want. It’s good to know what inspires us. But this can easily cross into a level of unhealthiness, too.
Because the truth is, no matter how hard we try, we can never BE those people. And we’re not meant to be those people. There’s a scary climb towards becoming obsessed with being someone else, to the point where we hate everything about ourselves, or actually destroy who we naturally are, whether it’s physically, mentally, or socially.
And that, my friends, is when we need to take a good hard look in the mirror and not ask, “Who do we want to be,” but “How do we want to be ourselves?”
Much as we can strive to grow and improve and change and thrive, at the end of the day we’ve still got to work with what we’ve been given and work on loving what we have. We’ve got to let go of a little control and let be what’s meant to be.
The other day, I took a “business” risk and submitted myself for the launch team of another blogger’s book. I was certain the application would ask to see my social accounts and take a critical look at my numbers and my engagement rates. (And while, of course, I love for all of you to read and comment and share, I know that I’m still growing, and I know that not every post appeals to everyone.Which means, those numbers they’d be looking at are pretty low.)
But regardless, I took a chance and turned on my charm and appealed to the application, explaining why I’d be a good fit. Before I received news that my book was on its way (YAY FOR THE UNDERDOG!), I was permitted to join a Facebook group of over 2,000 other girls/bloggers/influencers who were also in the running to receive an advanced copy of the book. At this point, I was certain I really didn’t stand a chance. So I stood back and watched as everyone in the group began to introduce themselves, share their Instagram feeds, etc. etc.
What I saw was a bunch of young, married 20-somethings with strong faith-based messages, the same hair, the same shoes, the same filters, and the same general “Hi, how d’ya do”s. While each of them is admittedly still their own person, they’re not exactly opting out of the disillusioned game of promoting the same kind of same.
And yet, fitting the mold is what has made them successful. It’s what’s made them the “competition”.
It occurred to me that we’re all out there trying to say the right things, take the right photos, cultivate the right feeds…and for what? To settle for being the same? To blur together?To be each other?
….so that maybe one day we can all beat each other?
That’s not the kind of game I want to play, y’all.
You see, I write this blog because I love to write and it’s the only thing I really feel like I can do well. I write it because occasionally some of those things I write really resonate with people. Sure, I’m my own kind of basic, but I like to think you’ll find more than that here. I don’t write posts because I have a brand endorsement with Nordstrom or a really photogenic face or the apparently necessary know-how to market to a lot of people and offer really cool self-help freebie downloads if you’ll only subscribe to my newsletter.
But there are girls out there who are already doing that – and who are doing that really well. And everyone else, it seems, is just re-iterating similar versions of the same thing. Heck, I’d like to have that kind of success, too, wouldn’t I? But as Me. Just as Myself.
As I scrolled through that feed I realized I didn’t care about being any of these girls and fitting into their perfectly-curated squares of media.
But some days it feels like I might have to. As if that’s the only way I might “succeed”. Which makes me feel like, even if I want to be different from the mobs of 20-somethings out there, I still need to “be” Jenna Kutcher, or Elizabeth Gilbert, or Cheryl Strayed. Trouble is, they didn’t get where they are by pretending to be anyone else. Which means I shouldn’t have to. And you shouldn’t have to, either.
So let’s revisit that first paragraph: Who do I want to be? Well, I want to be a writer, I want to be out in the world – a traveler, an explorer, an adventurer – I want to be a goat mama to MANY, I want to be both tough and feminine, and I want to do all this while I speak to other women. I want to be in tune with myself, I want to understand why I am the way I am and how that might fit in to helping other girls who might feel uncomfortable in their own bodies or in pursuing their own dreams. I want to be spiritual, and flexible, and healthy, and inspired. I want to tell good stories. I want to punch you in the gut with my words.
Now what about you? Who do you, really and truly, want to be?