Thursday, June 01, 2006

The pre-missionary look

The other night I went to my sisters Drama Club closing social. She is a theater teacher, and she needed me to do some last minute piano playing. It is to be expected with my sister. She is very good at utilizing her resources, and couldn't let me rest for more than a week before using my talents. Not that I mind, it is just funny.
Sitting there watching the kids perform, get their awards, etc, it struck me that most of the guys had the "pre-missionary" look. Like they are clean cut and dressed ready to open the mission call.
I guess there is nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that everyone looked THE SAME!! There was no difference. No personality, it seems. I am sure these kids all have individual personalities, they just seemed masked by the need to look the same.
The girls were not much better. They had more variety in colors, of course, but they still all looked the same.
The part that was the saddest for me was realizing that I was just like them! When I was in high school, I looked just like the rest of them. I would like to think that I had a unique personality, that I somehow stood out from the crowd, but deep down I know that I was just as dull and boring as the rest of them. I went to seminary every day, went to church, did my hair the way my friends did, ate what they ate, sang what they sang, etc.
My other question is "Am I really any different now?" Have I changed that much, because I have been away for so long? Well, back in New York, most of my friends were not Mormon. Most of my friends were not white. I was different. It was great. However, I feel I have entered into the sameness again. I have blond hair and blue eyes, just like everyone else in my neighborhood. I am pregnant, just like 20 other women I seem to see every where I go. My only difference is that I have lived in the "world" or the "mission field" or "hell" or any number of other names people have for the city.
Well, I loved "the world". I loved being with people who did not believe the way I did. I hope that I will always feel that way. I know there is diversity somewhere in Utah, and I am determined to find it. Just as I am sure there have to be stores that sell clothes that look more like the styles I began to love in New York. There has to be more people who feel like me.


Chrissy said...

I have a perfectly grand solution for you my dear. Move to Denver! ;) hehehe I wish!

Blue said...

Hi there. I found you through a comment on FMH. Your name stood out for me because one of my best friends is named Maren, and I'd never heard of anyone else with that name. She lives in Queens NY, and so you had that in common too. She grew up in the Avenues in SLC maybe it's a more common name in Utah.

Anyway. That's not really why I decided to write. I just moved from Vermont, where we were the only Mormons in our town, to SLC this summer. I have never lived here before, and yes, everyone here IS blond! And pregnant. And stylin' in that "Utah kind of way". I'd noticed that in the past when I've been here. But it doesn't bother me. I try to remember not to equate anything about anyone with their worth and value/specialness (not a word, but seems appropriate here in Utah! :-))

You talked about being the same. I remember in HS trying so hard to figure out how to fit in. And yes, I thought the answer lay in looking like, talking like, being like the people who seemed to "have it all". They were popular, seemed confident, and like they knew what they wanted. I never did manage to fit in...and have wrestled for most of my life, until the very last year or two, to find my footing and find peace just being me. Looking like me. Living in my house. Liking my wardrobe. Appreciating my talents. Driving my car. Not coveting what I don't have. Being different. "Owning" myself.

This happened in a small way...finally! I have a little girl and she has ZERO fashion sense. A couple years ago when she was 7 years old, a friend was visiting me and my daughter came in the room wearing some zany combination of clothing, and she said "does this match?" Before I could answer her, my friend said "honey, if you own it, you can wear it. You can wear anything, as long as you own it."

And those simple words struck a chord. I thought, "I could apply this all over my life. To my house. My furnishings. My clothes, hair, face, relationships, feelings." There is no end to the number of ways that I needed to just "own" my life.

And I've started to. I don't have as cute a home, or as fancy a car, or as big an income, or as many resources as I have in the past (we moved here for my DH to attend medical school). Most of my friends (I'm in my upper 30's) are at a stage of life where they are pretty well established, but we're just starting over. So there's no way to compete. And it's a good thing I'm not even trying to because that would result in frustration neverending.

I don't know why it took nearly 30 years for me to finally get to the point where I was happy with my life. Some people desperately want to fit in. Some people desperately want to stand out. Two sides of the same coin as far as I can tell. Fact is, we are all absolutely irreplaceably precious. And none of this stuff matters any way. You can dress NY Chic (I fly to NY several times a're right, it's different!), or wear the "Utah Special" attire, and it doesn't mean anything.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, you may not stand out in a crowd physically. But you have (as is apparent from your posts, a few of which I just read) a great-heartedness about you. And you use your mind to good effect. And you have talents that you are willing to share (piano. lucky!) and it doesn't matter if you could say the same things about a zillion other still matter in a way no one else does. To your family and friends. To your blogasphere connections. To that little bunchkin you're haulin' around right now. And making peace with that is priceless. And then it's easier to appreciate all the other people with all their "sameness" for the unique individuals they are.

At least that's what I've been experiencing, and so I thought I'd share it with you.

Best of luck to you. The hormones do whack you silly some days. Hang in there and take lots of guilt-free naps!