If I had a nickel for every time that someone told me to “find myself”, or “do what you want”, or “find what you want in life”, I’d probably be a female version of Ritchie Rich.
Don’t get me wrong, this is good advice. In fact, as a woman or young girl, I learned that we often compromise what we want or who we are for a boy. And I’m sure my family, and maybe some friends, have seen even me do this. Not only have a sacrificed pieces of me for a boy, but I’ve also done it for other family members, for society, and for the “norm”. But as I approach another birthday-which I could not be more excited about-I’m realizing how well I’ve grasped this advice and how well I actually do know myself.
Sometimes, I get a little…dreary about another birthday. I loved childhood and I loved being a little girl. Then, I loved being a teenager who had ‘the whole world ahead of me’ and zero responsibilities. And then, I loved being a 20 year old. It felt so…fun. Okay, okay….23 is no big deal and it is NOT that old. I just feel some remorse leaving the very young ages behind. But, I’m slowly turning my remorse into excitement. Excitement because my friends and family will be near for my birthday and I already anticipate some very amazing things coming my way in the age of 23.
My anticipations stems, mainly, from knowing exactly who I am. (Hold on, ladies and gents, this will be a long one.) I am Alyssa Mae—Alyssa from my mom’s creativity and love for an actress, and Mae, a hand-me-down name from my great-grandma. Two wonderfully fit names that always gave me my own “uniqueness” (I said I liked writing, not necessarily following the grammar rules). My name was never on those silly pens or notebooks, but I enjoyed that. I felt like the only one in the world. I was born to a man and a woman who came from hard-working, ranch and farming families. My mom was a teacher and my dad was a rancher. I then had an older brother who cried when I cried and pushed me in my swing. He never said anything but I’m convinced he thought I was all that and a box of crackers. ;-)
I grew up near those ranches and farms with a grandma who is stubborn and cranky, but amazing and strong. I also had a grandpa who taught me—well, told me sternly--to color in the lines, and called me “Suzie”. (The closest of you know my tale of ‘Suzie’) He took such good care of his family that he modeled everything I wanted for a man later in life, without me even realizing it.
Because of these people (and so many, many more), I am who I am today. I am a strong and independent female. I will not demote myself to someone who cannot take care of herself. I have learned to pay my own bills, move my own furniture, and change my own oil in my car. However, to have a man who wants to take care of me and who does an honorable job of doing so, will mush this strong girl into a puddle every time. My dream, is to have that kind of man, and that he will embrace the fact that I don’t need him, but I really love having him in my life.
I have a multitude of hobbies. I love writing. (Duh, already) I love it because I can create things out of my honesty. I can take this right-brain dominance in me, and be creative. And I can inspire and help others. And if I’m dreaming about things, I can write pages to a novel. I love music for what it does for my ears and my soul. It brings such good feelings into my life. Plus, it makes for a pretty fun workout. I love working out…which actually means, I love to lift weights and walk-for miles if I can-and dance and kick-box. The way my body responds to exercise is phenomenal. It’s like it is thanking me. I love to take pictures of really anything. I like to capture moments around me, I like to be creative with things that are happening, and I even like-really like-to be in pictures. Maybe this is vain of me, but since I was very little, I was posing and smiling for any camera in sight. I take a camera with me everywhere, and I am eagerly awaiting to pull it out, snap a hundred pictures and have people take pictures of me. Honestly.
I love riding a motorcycle. Thanks to my mom, I found this amazing freedom experience on any bike. Whether I’m driving or riding, I’m in another world. I also like riding horses. To be with this gentle, almost-giant with a soul that seeps out of his eyes, you can’t help but love that feeling, too. In fact, I think I’d like riding an elephant for those same reasons. I love football. Not like most people just like the game, I LOVE football. I like to have a football party with wings and chips and friends, or a sports bar with tons of yelling fans. I like the stadiums, I like the teams, I like the entire season. You will never find me complaining about watching football on a Sunday. (As I watch the Bears vs. Seattle game…Go Seahawks!) I love coffee shops and little boutiques. I love driving with my windows down on warm summer nights. I love baseball games and nachos. I love the holidays and big family dinners. I love cooking those big family dinners.(This list could go on for daayyyys. Basically, I love life.)
I also love my family. My mom is also my best friend. My dad-has no experience with a daughter, still-and yet knows me in his own secrecy. My brother, who I admire and respect and love very much, is so much like me that it’s strange. I can’t imagine having a better friend for the rest of my life. I’m perfectly fine with being near them forever. I can’t fathom not seeing them for months and years at a time.
My dreams and hopes for my life include a coffee shop and bakery, writing more and more, and a family with a wonderful husband and kids of my own. At this point, more schooling doesn’t seem to be a part of my life. Not just because I hate math, and not that I’m opposed to more school, but if I don’t feel led to go, I won’t go just to satisfy the “status quo”. I want to own that coffee shop and write in my free time. I want to always take pictures and still enjoy weekend hobbies. ‘Corporate America’ does not have any room in my life or dreams. And I can’t imagine a life without kids. While it is a scary concept, I have never met a little kid that didn’t cling to me like a bug to a light. I say this, not to boast, but to point out that I’ve never worked hard at entertaining children or making them happy. It’s just like me and children have this same kind of heart and we draw it out in each other every time. And to have a great person to share all of these things with, is a blessing that I look forward to daily.
Most importantly, I am a child of God. He has adopted me, and pursues me, and loves me in all my ‘mess-ups’ and all my hobbies and all my hopes. It is only because of what He has done in my heart and in my life that I have been able to find myself. He has placed all of those things on my heart as desires, so that when He provides them I would recognize what He is doing for me. I would recognize how wide, how deep, and how high His love is for me. He made me glorious and He has set a plan for my life. He did not make me for mediocrity, or merely to survive, He made me for greatness. He made me to worship and to love and to do His works for His kingdom. Knowing who I am is knowing who my God is and who He intended me to be. And that’s the glory of who I have become. “Finding myself” means constantly changing and learning and growing. And I know I am ever-changing like the weather, but I’m perfectly and wonderfully okay with that.
So, you see, when you start to worry that I’m getting wrapped up in love, or changing my direction, do not be afraid that I am somehow ‘losing’ myself. In order to lose myself, I’d have to lose sight of God and His love for me. He is too great to let that happen. For the first time in my life, I know who I am. I know myself and I love myself. I am not sacrificing who I am, I am simply following the signs God is giving me.