Sunday, January 29, 2012

Roadmaps of the Heart

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma- which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." -Steve Jobs

I firmly believe it is a fact of life that, at some point or another, everyone faces a crossroads in which they have to decide whether or not we will follow the crowd's footprints or carve out our own. No matter our age, our position in life, or our literal location, we are subjected to opinions that both coincide and strongly differ from our own, we are surrounded by people who dress similar to us and those who are breaking boundaries, breaking fashion 'rules,' and, maybe, breaking the law, by what they do, or don't, put on their backs.

I have been fortunate in being raised in a home in which I am encouraged to make my own decisions, bad and good ones, alike. My parents never set me up for failure, but when I was doing something they knew would likely not end well, they did not forbid it, they simply said, "you'll have to understand the repercussions of this decision if it doesn't end the way you'd like." And I did- over and over and over and over again. But because my parents wanted me to make informed, intelligent decisions, I did learn lessons and I made bad decisions, too.

Another fact of life that I firmly believe in is that girls can be vicious. I am including myself in this category- I know I have thrown words like daggers and not looked back to see the damage. While I know I've hurt others with my actions, I have been hurt by others actions as well. When I think about females and the ways in which we condemn each other, I think about so many girls out in the world that are coming to crossroads this very second, having to make decisions about whether they will sleep with their boyfriend because their best friends are doing it, whether they will partake in that joint or beer at a party because everyone else at the party is doing it, whether or not they will buy those jeans that cost enough to buy an entire outfit because all the "cool" kids at school are wearing them. I realize that these are concerns that are considered 'normal' by teenage standards, but that does not make them any less disheartening.

I was not one of those girls that gave away my body easily . . . by today's standards, I held onto it for a rather long time. Please understand I am not judging or pointing my finger at anyone who lost their virginity before 18- this is, was, and will forever be, your choice; my only hope is that you don't regret your decision. I waited until I was 18, and it was still earlier than my best intentions, because I was supposed to wait until marriage. It is not something I regret, but I am also fully aware that it is a moment I will never get back, and it was a moment with a boy that will never be mine forever.

I've never smoked weed and I didn't drink much at all before I was 21. Again- if you  partied in high school- right on! And if you have, or do, smoke weed- I'm not judging you . . . But up until quite recently, my life has been predominated by fear and that has hindered some experiences.

I have never, nor will I probably ever, spend much more than 40 dollars on jeans . . . and even that is difficult for me. But I did, and do, wear name brand clothing, but I also thoroughly enjoy a shopping trip to Wal Mart!
My point to all of this is that I have been a part of "peer pressure" and I have been to  many a crossroads in my life and I know there are plenty more coming. I just hope that as I come to each one in the future, I will be arriving wiser and more prepared.

Here's what I know about me, that probably sets me apart a little from society's "expectations":
-I will wear Chuck Taylors or TOMS with just about anything. If I can get away with wearing Chucks with an otherwise dressy outfit, I will . . . Because I prefer comfort! Mark my words- on my wedding day, there will be no heels- there will be TOMS.
-I do not care about matching. I wear brown and black together, I mix patterns, and I try to throw a scarf on with just about any outfit. I guess this is where my hippie roots are coming out.
-I prefer my hair to look like a mess. I am not about the overly polished, straighted, perfected look that so many of my amazingly gorgeous friends carry off effortlessly. If I look like there is a wind advisory in effect or that I just rolled out of bed I have accomplished my hair goals for the day.
-I am 24 and am not insanely crazy about being single. I'm not going to say much more on this other than I am also not a proponent of one night stands, either . . . because I enjoy not having crabs.
-I am a very liberal thinker being raised in a conservative area. I am okay with people having their beliefs and thoughts and their freedoms to express them, I just happen to believe that homosexuals deserve rights to marriage, women deserve rights to their body, interracial relationships are acceptable and beautiful, and that people should make sure their hands are clean before they start pointing fingers. And it is my right to have those thoughts, as well.
-I am not of the opinion to "try everything once." There are just some things that are not worth trying- call me unadventurous- I will smile and say thank you.

There are many more . . . because I am weird- bottom line. But that's okay because as I get older and learn more about myself I know that I am a smart girl, a strong thinker, a lone dancer to that proverbial drum.

As years pass and experiences that belong in adulthood are being fulfilled in adolescence, I worry about the future generations and what they are leaving themselves to look forward to. I wish girls weren't so catty and mean, I wish boys would realize it's okay to be told no and accept it, and I wish marketing didn't allow youth to think that if they aren't in name brand clothing, if they aren't shopping at particular stores, if their skin isn't parallel to that of some model who is airbrushed, then they are not worthy, acceptable, or beautiful. Because they are, you are. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made- we're supposed to carve our own paths, make our own style, dance to our own music and we should be celebrating the different tunes, celebrating the different walks, celebrating the different directions.

The world would be impossibly boring if we all wore the same clothes, said the same things, walked the same roads.

So, what are you going to do to create your own music? Where are you going to let your heart tell you to go?

-Stephi D.

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