This past Saturday, as Brian and I toured Vandele Farms in Lake Lure, NC during their Farm Festival, we laughed at the idea that I once thought I was cut out to be a city girl, living downtown, caught up in whatever hustle and bustle I could find in that atmosphere. Surrounded by acres of land, learning about beekeeping, picking out tomato plants and worm castings, and in the company of farm-loving people, I knew deep within myself that, unlike some of my other ideas for what my life should hold, this preoccupation with all things homesteading is a reflection of who I really am at the core of my being and what I really want.
I’m a sucker when it comes to the power of suggestion. This probably results from my being equal parts adventurer and people-pleaser. I hate to say no to an opportunity to try something new and challenging and I also hate to say no to people. Combine this with years of looking around at others for clues as to how I should look, behave, and think and the result was once me zoning through life, swayed by new ideas or suggestions, with no idea what I really wanted. I was adrift in a sea of not being myself. Who I was and who I thought I wanted to be changed regularly based on what people told me or what I saw in my peers. One of the most striking examples of this is when I became a foster parent and went shopping for ‘more grown-up mom’ clothes despite the fact that I didn’t like the clothes I picked out since I was in my early 20s and was shopping like a much-older woman. I hated the way I looked but I wore the clothes anyway because I thought I should look a certain way as a foster mother.
Even now, I sometimes think I should spend more time at museums, concerts, theatres, etc. I should change my vocation. I should go back to school for some major that people will think highly of. I shouldn’t talk about farm life so much. I’m not cultured enough.I’m boring. I should be different. Learning from Brian and others who march to the beat of their own drum along with my years of experience in not being myself has taught me the importance of asking where those messages are coming from. If they are coming from anywhere other than my true self they have no place in my life. I’ve been accused of being in my head too much and I do spend an awful lot of time thinking and pondering the various meanings of seemingly mundane or obvious things, but being in my head a lot helps me live a more intentional life.
We live in a world with easy access to hundreds of thousands of messages about what we should want, what we need if we are going to be accepted as valid and worthwhile, and who we should be. I can’t count all the times I’ve seen articles claiming to have the answers to what ‘real women’ or ‘real men’ think and want or how they should behave. Real moms do this. Real women never do that. Real men want this. And the message we receive over and over again from nearly all sides is that the only way to be happy is to buy into whatever someone else’s expectations are of us and work hard to meet those expectations. Unfortunately, too often we believe it and we forget about being true to ourselves and work so hard instead to be someone’s idealized version of who we should be. And it is never just one someone. There are countless someones only too happy to steal our joy, our independence, our gifts, and our time so they can use them for themselves.
My question to you today is do you know you? What are your passions, your dreams, your goals, your desires for your life? Are you ready to get inside your head a bit and start culling the messages that do nothing to draw you closer to yourself? There are rewards for those brave enough, intentional enough to stop living according to not-you messages. I experienced one of those rewards myself as I walked around the farm on Saturday – deep peace and joy and a sense of belonging within myself.