Today I went shopping with two of my good friends. One who is 40 and the other is 50. I just LOVE being with them! There is just something to be said for older women. They have such confidence about them and are just happy with who they are. I admire that so much.
As a teenager, I felt confident at times, but of course, there were moments of self-doubt and awkwardness that just comes with teenage life. Then I got married. All of the sudden, I had an identity crisis. I don't know why but for some reason I just felt so alone. I had Cory (which is exactly what I wanted) but all of the sudden I had nothing in common with all of my unmarried friends and it was hard for me. Then after we made friends together, I felt comfortable again...until I became a mother. Then all of the sudden the self-doubt and lack of confidence came flooding back in.
I think that with every new stage of life, there is a time of transition. A time where your identity is redefined. At such times, I feel like that awkward teenager who is trying so hard to fit in and yet at the same time trying to not compromise who I am. These moments of transition are never-ending. Sometimes they are big transitions and other times they are small. But, they always seem to make me become more introspective and critical of who I am.
A couple of years ago, I ran a half-marathon with my good friend Austyn. After she moved to NYC, she sent me a video in the mail of a slide show that her husband had put together of us from that day. Along with it, she wrote me a letter that I still have in the drawer of my nightstand. She said that in life we will have many different titles but many of them will come and go. She said that what she loved the most about the video is that when she watched it she saw me as Melissa. Not Katelund's mom, Cory's wife, YW president, or any other title...just me. I think of that letter a lot because all though a majority of my focus and attention goes to my calling as a mother, wife, visiting teacher, etc., I don't want to lose myself in the process. Not that I shouldn't lose myself in the service of others, but when I remember and am content with who I am, I'm a much better mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter, etc.
Sometimes I just try so hard to be like other women who just seem to have it all together. In my eyes, they seem so perfect. But as hard as I try to be like them, it just doesn't work. I will never be the woman who has a completely organized home with labels in every drawer. I'll never be the perfect wife who has a beautiful 5 course dinner ready on the table by 6 o'clock every night, or the mom who looks like she just stepped out of a salon. I will most likely have a ponytail in my hair, spit up all over my shirt, dinner on the table at some point that night (even if it is a rotisserie chicken that I bought at the grocery store on my way home), and at least one room that looks great, one drawer that is organized, and at least one or two unfinished projects that are scattered around the house. It's just me, and all though I will still continue to try to be better and improve, I have to be happy and content with who I am. I often remind my girls of the story of Esther. I tell them that they too were born for such a time as this. It is so easy to tell them that with confidence because I know that they have a divine plan and purpose, but it is also something that I have to remind myself about...and then believe it. My divine role and purpose is obviously not to be a Martha Stewart, but I believe it is something significant...even if it is just being a mother to beautiful little girls. One of my favorite poems that I have loved since I was about 14 years old is called "To Have Succeeded" by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
To Have Succeeded
To laugh often and love much:
To win respect of intelligent people
And the affection of children;
To earn the approbation of honest critics
And endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give one's self;
To leave the world a little better,
Whether by a healthy child,
A garden patch,
Or redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm
And sung with exultation;
To know even one life has breathed easier
Because you have lived...
This is to have succeeded.
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