Another post written for you by one of our Okay Moms ::
I have never been the socially acceptable “normal” person I was intended to be by the people in charge of my education and upbringing. I’ve always taken the road less traveled, and that was usually the more difficult path. Baby was never meant to be put in a corner and was never meant to be told what to do! Painfully awkward, filled with incredible amounts of pent up rage from tragic events of my childhood, and lost in a big world with no real role model, I spent the first almost 30 years of my existence, well, lost.
My life never had a clear path. I didn’t have much in the way of future goals, I couldn’t see past the end of my nose and the borders of my small hometown. You know the type of place, small town, booming in population growth, where everyone either works for a plant or teaches school and everyone knows everyone else’s business. I knew I wasn’t meant to be there, but I had no clue how to get out unless prison was involved, and I’m too in to my self-preservation for that shit. The opportunities for me weren’t plentiful and I had no idea how to get out there and make things happen myself. I was usually shut down before I could even try.
I was forced to attend college even though deep down I knew I wasn’t ready. I was too naive of the real world and had absolutely no clue what college involved or what I wanted to be when I grew up. Seven years, three majors, three minors, and three institutions of higher learning later and I finally trucked out a half decent degree with a $40,000 price tag in student loans. I was finally done with the monotony of “formal education”, married and on my way to the state of New York for my husband’s first duty station with the Army.
The first tastes of real freedom, and what did I do with it? Immediately had a baby. Don’t get me wrong, I was so ready to have a child and I love my little boy more than anything else in the world, but I never gave myself time to consider options for just what exactly I would want out of life. By the time my husbands first contract with the Army was complete we had spent three years in the frozen tundra of upstate New York, racking up credit card debt, and doing nothing but hiding at home with my baby and eating. I was “that” military spouse. I made a couple of friends and tried a few new activities but my only true solace was junk food and fighting with imaginary people on the Internet. I was just a miserable person living a closeted miserable life.
All of the education and training and experience I had built up in the first 25 years of my life were going to absolute waste. This impasse basically slapped me in the face in 2013 when I decided to compete for the last time in an International pageant system I had been involved in for almost 10 years. I was aging out and decided to give the International competition one more go of it. I prepared my vocal selection for talent, shopped for the clothes, got in shape, had professional headshots made. I was ready! Or so I thought. I was 27 and aging out of the system and the part of the process that I hadn’t given much thought to was also the part that always came so easy to me, the Interview competition. About a month before the pageant I started thinking about things I could potentially be asked in Interview. It didn’t take me long to realize I had messed up. Questions that came to mind were things like “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” “What is your greatest accomplishment” or “How do you plan to make an impact on the world”.
That’s it, time to call the whole thing off, I’m doomed. I can belt out a song and glide across the stage in a gown all day but I had absolutely no real substance to back it up. I am not a person who cries easily. I am also that solid rock in a rocky storm type of gal. I went into sheer panic mode. I ended up in tears during a conversation with my mother, whom I was living with at the time while my husband was deployed. I realized that while I had gone through the “expected” steps of graduating high school, graduating college, marrying a respectable man, and having a beautiful child, I had absolutely nothing to really show for myself that was any indication of who I was as a person and absolutely no future path in sight other than to raise my child.
Now, before anyone wants to rake me over the coals for my last statement, I’m not saying raising my child isn’t respectable. I consider it the hardest and most rewarding job I have ever had and will ever have. This is merely my way of saying that I had never given any thought to being capable of anything other than being a wife and mom. I love those parts of my life, but in this epiphany mess of tears I realized that I was a capable human being who really did want more than what I had settled myself to.
My mom talked me off the ledge, we managed to collaborate on some believable bullshit to put on my introduction card for the pageant, and off we went to spend a week in Vegas full of hairspray, rhinestones, and memories. I ended up pulling off my second trip to the Top 10 for my age group, and while I didn’t return home with a crown I did come home with a new found thought: I am not done living my life yet.
Fast forward four years and we now live in Tennessee where we own a home, send our son to a nice private school, I have an incredible job, and now know what I want to be when I grow up. In those four years I took a long look at where I came from and decided to embrace what I was capable of rather than wallowing in my pathetic past. I cut myself off from a lot of Internet connection, a lot of toxic “friendships”, even more toxic family relations, and decided to be who I really am.
I now rock purple hair, I got my first tattoo recently, I embrace my full on love of Harry Potter and all things nerdy, and decided to stop letting everyone else tell me who I am supposed to be. I saw a picture on Instagram recently with a quote on it that I have really fallen in love with. It said, “Teach your daughters to worry less about fitting into glass slippers and more about shattering glass ceilings.” I’m done trying to fit myself into the molds I was never meant to fit into. I may not cure cancer, save Social Security, or win Miss America but for my child I’m going to be the best example of living my one and only life exactly the way I want to with absolutely no shame or doubt involved. If I can encourage one other person to be who they are without apology, then my work here is done.