The moment of disillusionment came crashing down sometime in September during my freshman year of college. I was sitting outside doing some reading for one of my classes when the revelation hit me like a Biology 101 textbook falling from the sky: I will never be the girl on the cover of the catalog!
Before that moment, I don’t think I even realized I harbored any such dreams. Starting my junior year of high school, I’d get mailing after mailing of coeds sprawled on a blanket under pines or yellow aspens (never doing any homework—just smiling perfect, gleaming smiles).
My realization that I would never be the catalog girl wasn’t about the way I looked or about the fact that my outfit didn’t come off the hanger at Gap or even that such handsome guys never sat on my red plaid blanket.
It was that I’d thought I’d somehow feel different once I arrived and became a college student.
As it turned out, I was still me.
It’s a phenomenon that has followed me my whole life. I figured that once I got engaged, I would suddenly feel glamorous and confident and perhaps even a little diva-like. And that once I got married, I’d instantly acquire all manner of wifely abilities, like, for example, being able to whip together a timely, healthy, and delicious dinner, or scrubbing the toilets on a regular basis.
But once again, I was just me, with a diamond solitaire on my finger, or just me, with a Mrs. in front of my name. It was a bit of a letdown to discover there’s no magic spell to transform you into a particular life stage. Instead, it turns out you just have to figure out how the role fits you, particularly. You don’t become someone else.
I recently discovered that the same thing is true when it comes to being an author. When I got my first copy of my book, I was elated to hold it in my hands. But to my surprise, I didn’t transform me into the persona of an author in that moment. The day I got the book, I finished my work day, as usual; commuted home amid much construction, as usual; and arrived home to discover I had no ideas for dinner, as usual. I’m quite certain that Louisa May Alcott and Agatha Christie had no such pedestrian problems.
While it’s a bit of a disappointment at first to discover that a new role doesn’t equate to becoming a new person, it’s ultimately a huge relief. It means that God doesn’t expect me to fit some mold I was never meant to fit into. I never have to step into shoes I wasn’t created to fill. He has millions of patterns of what “college student” or “wife” or “author” looks like, not some one-size-fits-all formula. And that’s ever so much more creative and freeing, for all of us.
- It means you don’t have to be the girl in the college catalog.
- You don’t have to be the woman at church who seems to have it all together.
- You don’t have to be a Pinterest-perfect mom.
- You don’t have to be your neighbor or your sister or your mom or your best friend or your online nemesis.
You just get to be you. And you get to figure out along the way what it looks like to be you as a wife, you as a mom, you as an employee, you as a leader, you as a follower of Christ.
You aren’t defined by your roles. God made you to be you, and that is a good thing.
I’d love to hear your story! Are there any roles in your life that have surprised you? Did you expect to feel different when you arrived at any of those anticipated life stages?