Though the memory is slightly hazy, I can still recall my mother’s interrogation as to why I had four half-used, bark-covered tubes of sticky Smacker’s gloss in my backpack that afternoon — gloss that most definitely had not been there when I hopped out of the mini van doors towards first grade that morning. I remember brushing off her questions, thinking it silly that I couldn’t smear the previously loved product across my unknowing lips. “Mom, I got it from the class treasure box…duh!” I lied.
Truth was, I had found the glosses on the playground floor and — here comes the hard truth — had gleefully chased the cutest guy in school with them around the monkey bars during recess.
Nothing says love quite like an un-reciprocated game of tag and a germ-filled, shimmery mess.
Luckily, someone along the way showed me that love didn’t come quickly when you physically chase the boy and since, my dating life has consisted of normalcy.
Guy meets girl, guy asks girl on date, guy and girl date, guy and girl break up.
Again and again and again —always wondering when The One would arrive. Yet — recently, I have been questioning it all.
Perhaps not everyone chased the boy around the playground — although I would like to think that I was not the only one. Even if you were not once a boy’s recess nightmare, I would bet my bottom dollar that you can recall the first time that you desperately WANTED to chase a cute boy. I would also bet that you too were still young enough to be crawling out of your mother’s mini van. American culture teaches us girls immediately that our role in life, our biggest aspiration, and our greatest accomplishment is to find Prince Charming, our soulmate, our other half. But what if I am already whole?
I grew up in a household built on a marriage that has lasted lovingly for 25 years. I credit that love almost entirely for who I am today. So, I certainly do not write this post to say that I too do not hope to one day be a wife. To find a companion to walk with, talk with, eat with, pray with, laugh with, cry with. To raise children with that also come home, covered in sticky, pre-used gloss. To dance with. To sing with. To watch movies on a Saturday with. To grow old with.
Yet, my sole purpose is no longer to catch that cute boy. Instead, I envision Prince Charming admiring me as much as I will admire him.
I believe that tradition often whispers to us that we are to each fulfill the role of wife identically, as if she can be drawn from a stencil and put on like a ill-fitting costume after the vows have been spoken and the champagne has been drunk. Yet, as I look around lately and see marriage after marriage beginning in bliss, I can’t help but wonder if the 20+ years of schooling that I am on the brink of completing will be moot once I say “I do.”
I also can’t help but wonder what will happen to my plans to write a book.
Or to the calling that I’ve felt, deep in my bones, to fight for those in need as an attorney.
Or to my dreams of seeing the wide open spaces far, far from where I stand today.
Or to the friendships I’ve built in my 22 years.
Or to my amateur love of cooking.
Or my bucket-list dream of running a marathon.
Okay, or maybe just a half-marathon.
All these things that I’ve talked about, thought about, hoped for, prayed for, longed for, worked for. Lost?
Likely, I speak for another 20-something out there, who is waiting in this state of hopeful fear for Prince Charming. Hope that Prince Charming will bring great joy. Hope that she will find a life-long companion to confide in, to lean on, to share joy with. Fear that Prince Charming will unintentionally cast aside hopes, dreams, and plans that have always founded her identity. Fear that one day, she’ll wake up at 50 and wonder where that 20-something went and why those hopes never came to fruition.
I believe, like many, that my Creator designed me to be a perfect match for someone. I believe that joy will come from that heavenly union. I believe that I will endure life’s hardships far more successfully with a steadfast companion by my side. Yet, I must admit that I am often fear-ridden when I think of marriage. And no, not because I will no longer have the freedom to chase cute boys around the playground. Instead, I fear something far worse.
I fear losing myself.
The traits that make me who I am. The dream of who I have always wanted to become. The places that I have always wanted to see. The people that I have always wanted to help. The things that I have always wanted to try. Yet, lately I’ve been thinking that all this fear us girls feel is for naught.
Instead of anticipating having to cast ourselves aside, perhaps it’s time to cast aside that stencil of the perfect wife and instead invite ourselves, our complete dream-filled selves, to simply compliment Prince Charming instead of disappearing beneath who Prince Charming is. Beneath Prince Charming’s dreams. I must believe that if he truly is Prince Charming, he will champion me, go with me to those far away places, and tire his feet running that half-marathon alongside me. When I reach that year of 50, I hope to have accomplished the goals set at that year of 20. But most importantly, I hope to still see the girl that I am today, simply improved from having a life-long friend beside me to support me.
Our value as girls is not defined by the presence of a man or the absence of a man. Our greatest accomplishment in life is not finding Mr. Right. No, our greatest accomplishment as a woman is to be a strong woman, a dream-driven woman, a hope-filled woman, a mercy-showing woman, a good-friend woman. And if this super woman happens to be the wife of a lucky man, then he will have the privilege of witnessing her greatness first hand. And if he is the Prince Charming that she was likely always looking for, I like to think that he will feel quite lucky.
Originally published at medium.com