Every kid wants a hero. Someone who is bigger, stronger, and more powerful, who will defeat the bad guy, and inspire them to be more. Often it is quoted that you become the five people you surround yourself with. I’d go further and say you become who you admire and idolize. In my life, my (s)heros have evolved with the metamorphosis from young girl to mom/wife/business owner. Who do you admire? The answer says a lot about you.
Where is She?
I grew up a little girl looking for a hero who lived beyond herself. One who started among the cornfields of Iowa and made a change in the world. I fondly remember combing my middle school library reading every biography I could get my hands on. Amelia Earhart, Abigail Adams, Betsy Ross, Florence Nightingale….just to name a few. I can still see where those books sat in that now demolished building. However, those women had all come from times in the past and I’d never be able to be the first to do anything I could think of… so I kept looking.
All That Glitters
As a teen I found Seventeen magazine fascinating…especially in the late 80s. All that hair and makeup and designer clothes…how could you not be sucked into the glamour of it all? I wanted to be seen as a young woman on the rise with a cool car and a hunky boyfriend and perfectly volume-to-11 hair. The teen models were gorgeous and they knew all the answers to life. No one in that magazine had to wonder if they would ever be asked out on a date. Or if they would make the cheer leading squad and their bodies were never awkward and ugly. That was who I wanted to be like, but my family was on a farm, not a city. There was very little glamour to be found…so I kept looking.
The Perfect Wife with the Perfect House
As a young newly-married woman, freshly out of college, all I wanted to be was a perfect wife. One who could build a career and have an amazing home. We were fortunate to buy a nice half-duplex but our furniture was all hand-me-downs. I’d pine away at the home magazines (no Pinterest yet) and want to make my home more remarkable, more “homey,” more together. I was never going to be the perfect hostess without matching service ware. That combined with my lack of experience in the kitchen. How could I possibly have adult friends in our condition? So I kept looking….
The Most Remarkable Mom
When we started to have kids, we were fortunate enough to be able to live off only my husband’s income. So I quit my job and threw myself into being the perfect mom. I read all the books, saw all the videos, and talked to every mom I knew. My new heroes became those moms with it all, except jobs. They had a clean home, perfect outfit, well-behaved children all with IQs above average, and an adoring husband. I read their books, used their recipes, home-schooled my kids, and was militant about discipline and behavior.
The funny thing is, that although I loved homeschooling (and I did for 16 years), the stress of the up-keep of appearances caused me a large amount of stress and anxiety. Those women who were projecting this perfection were also feeling it, but were unable to be vulnerable enough to even show a crack. And when the cracks showed, lives were destroyed.
Friendships were fake, reality was faked, my joy was definitely faked..it was a fake-it-until-you-make-it world that I was fully embracing. That time in my life was marked with nights of crying, complete self-doubt, and a lot of self-hatred due to my lack of enoughness. Something had to give…so I kept looking.
Embracing the women of light
Here I am now. Through years of trial and error, heartbreak and loss and judgement, I came to a place of peace. I found my heroes in the women I surround myself with who embrace the mess that I can be, because they too are beautiful messes. Those women who have also had to overcome so much heartache and loss are by far the most grounded and beautiful women I have ever met. I didn’t find them in books or magazines or media. I found them in my church, my local coffee shop, my yoga class. They are women who are every spectrum of the rainbow and circumstance. I don’t want to model their lives as much as I do their spirits.
Sisters, I am tired of social media, TV, movies, and entertainment programs telling me how to live and breathe. I just won’t fall for it anymore…probably. I have found the woman I want to become because I found the women who are real and vulnerable and loving and giving and they inspire me to be that too. My hope is to keep the cycle going…