When I was young, I would often go to big department stores with my mom just to try on fancy prom dresses or homecoming dresses for fun. I would put on these dresses and get giddy over how I felt in them or the way they looked, always imagining the events or parties I could wear them too. Over the years she has grown quite a collection of me trying on all these dresses. Needless to say when the time came recently for me to go wedding dress shopping we both showed up with so much excitement and anticipation.
Going into it, I had a lot of ideas and visions of what I would like. Just like when I was a girl trying on all those dresses, I had all these visions and pictures in my head of what my wedding dress would be like. Let’s be honest, most of us girls create wedding pinterest boards long before we are even dating somebody. They are full of ideas, dreams, visions and moments that we imagine for that special day. From wedding dresses, to proposal ideas to color schemes. It’s fun to create an idea of what that future day could be.
As I tried on dress after dress, all of them were almost exactly what the younger version of me would have envisioned for the moment when I say I do. And although I loved a lot of them, I had a hard time truly envisioning myself wearing any of them when Ricky and I get married. Until I tried one on that was totally different, in every possible way. I knew right away I loved it but insisted on trying on more dresses because I just didn’t know if it was me.
One of my dearest longtime friends made the point that this dress highlighted who I am and didn’t distract or take away from my internal beaty, which truly resonated with me. It helped me recognize that I’ve often gone overboard with style or clothing because I wanted it to be something that caught the eye. I wanted to be different or to be known by something. In high school, I was known as the purple girl because truly everything I owned from my backpack to my shoes was purple. Then later I became obsessed with floral, I would even tell people that floral was my favorite color. In that moment when my friend said that though I could feel something changing in my perception of myself, a seed was being planted. Maybe I didn’t need all the details and lace and floral to feel myself on my wedding day. I began to recognize that I in many ways still viewed myself as that girl who loved purple, who wanted to find her place in the world but was searching for for meaning. Yet I still wasn’t confident enough in that to say yes to the dress and decided to go to one more place.
At that second place, every dress I tried on I kept comparing to the one at the other shop. Even when they were everything I always thought I wanted, they weren’t what I truly envisioned myself in.
I was making small talk with the bridal consultant, when she turned to me and said ,” You know, often times people have a hard time reconciling who they thought they’d be or what they’d envisioned their wedding day to be with the reality of who they have become. Maybe that’s why you aren’t loving any of these.”
That was all it took to allow the small seed that had been planted earlier to start growing. That was the missing puzzle piece, I didn’t realize that I was having a hard time letting go of the version of myself I thought I would be at this time in my life in order to accept who I have become.
If we are holding so tightly to the expectation and the idea of who we always envisioned ourselves to be we can often times miss the beauty of who we have grown into.
It is important to take time to reflect and to acknowledge where we have grown and to recognize the beauty that is present within.
In a world where you can create a Pinterest version of yourself and put together a social media presence of who you want people to see you as, it is important to not lose sight of who you truly are and what you value. If we aren’t careful the voices around us telling us what is in style or what a dream home should be or even how a person should propose will begin to drown out the reality of who we are and what we have fought to become.
For me, I never would have envisioned I would be where I am today in so many ways. If you’d asked me several years ago, I would have told you that I saw myself doing oversea missions and that I would have been married and had kids by now. I didn’t envision the few years spent in counseling and the growth that would come from it. I didn’t imagine the jobs I have had or the one where I am at now. But also I couldn’t have envisioned how happy and confident I am because of the things I’ve been through. I couldn’t have imagined finding a person to spend forever with who brings me so much joy and constantly points me to God. I couldn’t have imagined that when I got married I’d be so close to his family and be gaining not only that but also 12 nieces and nephews. never thought that I would be at a place where I’m comfortable in my own skin, where I know who I am and the things that a value. There is of course always still room for growth in these things, but to be able to look in the mirror and say that I love who I’m becoming is proof of the growth and progress I have made.
It is okay to let go of the things you once thought you would want in order to embrace what you have in front of you. Its okay if the things you like now aren’t the things you thought you might or if the community surrounding you isn’t what you envisioned your head. We must celebrate all of the things that have brought us this far and reconcile who we thought we would become with the reality of who we are.
Look for the growth and celebrate the victories in your life. Take inventory of the things you love about yourself and the things you want to grow in. Take time to celebrate the battles you’ve survived and grown through because you are stronger for having faced them. Take time to recognize the people that have helped you in the journey because they’ve played an important part in your transformation. Don’t minimize the journey you’ve been on, for its brought you to exactly where you are supposed to be.
This world needs your light and your love, so don’t let anything or anybody convince you that you story doesn’t matter or that who you are doesn’t bring beauty and value into the world.