Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I’m going to let everyone in on a little RachelRenae background today. I used to be what most people (at least in my high school) would call “gothic”. I dressed in all black and didn’t talk to people. I colored my hair black, though it’s already very dark. I wore heavy black makeup. I wore all black clothes and usually looked very medieval- corsets, floor length dresses, lots of lace, long coats, etc. I’ve met plenty of kids who dress weird and are ok with themselves, but I was angry and hateful and didn’t feel right inside. I was trying hard to be different by looking different.

I used to have a bumper sticker that I stuck on a journal and quoted with pride: “It is better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are not.” I couldn’t have been more right, but I didn’t understand it at the time. I often declared, with an air of superiority, that I didn’t care what everyone thought of me; let them say ‘freak’, I bear the title with pride. Truthfully, I cared very much about the opinion of others- I needed my identity validated by the goths and the punks and the ‘nonconformists’. My defiance meant nothing to the majority, though I fancied it did. I had no idea who I was and spent years miserable and depressed, lying to myself and everyone else. What a waste.

I’ve made a lot of vows and promises based more on my misunderstanding or ignorance than anything else. Everyone does it. I used to promise that I’d never wear pink. It’s silly, but for me it was symbolic of weakness, of mindless femininity, of stupidity- this was rooted deeply in emotional wounds I had not at that time worked through. I finally gave that up when I got healed and healthy and saw that ‘woman’ and ‘weak’ are not synonymous. I also used to promise that I’d never get married, because I ‘don’t need some man to control my life’. I relinquished that promise when I realized that there are good men, and a good man will support and love me rather than manipulate and dominate me. I’m beginning to realize that the declarations I’ve made have kept me from experiencing life to the fullest.

In the past few years, I’ve become happy with my true identity and am unafraid to be myself. I seek approval from no man or woman. I’m girly and happy and normal looking and getting married and (gasp!) taking my fiance's name. My hair is my natural color. I know the fact that I wear jeans and hoodies and flip flops instead of trench coats and combat boots doesn’t make me a conformist, or a closed-minded fool.

I’ve changed a lot, but the biggest change is this: I finally have the freedom I once so desperately (and falsely) claimed: I really don’t care what anyone thinks when they see me. I’m not just saying it to sound bad-ass or imperious. I simply don’t care if I’m judged; I know who I am, and I know who my real judge is. I’ve lost the fear of man, and it happened without my trying or even noticing.


Thom G. said...

What freedom comes with knowing yourself. Beautiful post, Rachel.

Beth said...

Hi you are such an inspiration, I wish I had known myself as well as that when I was 21 and to be honest I'm only just getting there now at 34(yes I am that young!) Just stopping by from Walesx

Kelly said...

What a beautiful inspirational post. If we all still lived in the "bubble" that we created for ourselves when we were young it would be a sad world. I know exactly what you mean in your words. There is a false sense of control and security when we rigidly try to keep a certain identity we think is the strongest and most invulnerable. I did. But thank goodness for growth.

Poetsch Family said...

I just came across your blog through Kelly's (my sister-inlaw) I really enjoyed reading your post, it was so true and honest. It sure is hard growing up and going through those hard times. But I think that those times help us find our way later on in life. Congratuations on getting married. I hope you don't mind me sneaking in on your blog.

Melissa said...

Great post! I think you are going to be such an awesome mom, Rachel! I say that because you have life experiences that all kids can identify with and you have a perspective that your children will be able to learn from.

RachelRenae said...

WOW! I haven't been on blogger for a few days and I come back to this outpouring of generous compliments. Thank you all!

(And Melissa, thank you so much- you don't know how much your mom comment means to me.)