There’s a quote by Diane von Furstenberg that goes, “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew the woman I wanted to become.” I think I stumbled upon that quote right as I was launched into the adult world after undergrad (thanks, Pinterest!). It struck a chord in me, and it’s always been in the back of mind. It doesn’t matter what I do career-wise or hobby-wise, as long as I become the woman I want to be. That woman is a blend of Audrey Hepburn, Kate Spade, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, my mom, and my grandmother to name a few. Someone who oozes joy but understands there are bad things in life. Someone who sets high goals, but admits there are moments when you have to cut yourself some slack. Someone who walks (and works out) with grace, but knows it’s kind of fun to laugh at yourself when you fall down.
As I’ve been meandering through adulthood, trying to figure out how to cook the perfectly portioned meal for one, how to not be awkward in every day life, and how to pay my bills without complaining, I’ve slowly noticed a change. I feel myself becoming more confident, more joyful, more outgoing. I find myself needing less validation from my peers, and I’m learning how to make efficient decisions and not saying “maybe” when I really mean no.
The girl in that picture is exactly who I want to be. This picture was taken at 9:00 p.m. on a Thursday. That day consisted of getting up at 5:00 to go to the gym, working an eight hour day, stressing out about an event that was happening the next day, changing my outfit twice, laughing with my sister, and greeting 5 dozen women to an event that was all about them. But that day felt so full of things that I love to do. I mean, yes, Ashley (of Story Photographers) is so incredibly talented it’s not even funny, but when she sent me that photo I felt beautiful. She’s taken my picture plenty of times before; family photos, my sister’s wedding, selfies for instagram, and with a boy….but that picture. That picture of me tied to nothing else made me feel whole. I felt like relieved because I finally feel like I match my interior (to paraphrase Elphaba in Wicked).
Every girl goes through an ugly duckling stage – but I have felt like I have had an identity crisis in my looks. First, my hair was too long and crazy and overwhelmed me. Then I learned I had to wear glasses every day, so I went with rimless ones so people wouldn’t immediately notice them. Then I cut all my hair off. Next, I decided to grow my hair out and learn how to use a curling wand. All of these little exterior changes never really made me feel like myself. But I think I have figured it out. My hair is never going to be perfect and I’m always going to feel naked without my glasses. I’m never going to master the smokey eye or remember to put lipstick on after I brush my teeth. But I am always going to remember that happy girls are the prettiest girls and I’m always going to know how to make an Old Navy dress look like Kate Spade. I’m going to know that my heart shines through more than I know, and that my brown eyes will captivate the right person.
So, thank you life (& Ashley), for showing me that sometimes it’s not about living the life society pushes on you. It’s about becoming the person you want to be.