C Is For Courage And That’s Stylish Enough For Me
In one of my previous posts, I said that the most important step to being stylish is being confident. But what if you’ve still got some work to do on the inside before your confidence can shine through on the outside?
Today is January 24, 2010. Exactly two years and ten days ago, I began talking via email to a man who would flip my entire world on its axis. Within four months of our inaugural email conversation, we met; and within six months of hearing “You’ve Got Mail” for the first time, I moved from North Carolina to California to start a new life with the man who would soon become my husband.
When I tell people the story of how Husband and I met and married, they usually reply with “WOW. You’re so brave. I don’t know that I would have the courage to move across the country for some guy I barely knew.” And you know what? In and of myself, I don’t think I would have had the courage to move either. But the truth is, at that time in my life, I needed to make a change; and Someone far more courageous than me knew it.
I’ve never come right out and said this (not sure why I’m choosing to now, in such a public forum), but there’s not much about who I was from the beginning of 2006 to the beginning of 2008 that I don’t regret. I could say that I was in the middle of a traumatic break up or that I was struggling with the remnants of an eating disorder; but I hate excuses. The truth is that for those two years of my life, I wasn’t a very good friend, student, employee, daughter, sister or person. I routinely canceled on my friends, slacked off in my graduate studies (to say that “heaven only knows” how I made it through grad school is an understatement), produced sub-par work at the office, spent my PARENTS hard earned money recklessly, barely kept in touch with my brother–and let’s not even talk about some of the desperate measures I went to in order to get a boy to date me (think shameless flirtation and mind games, not sex). By the end of 2007 (after going through yet another bad break up), I was ready for a change; and boy oh boy, did I ever get one…
Since moving to California in June 2008, I’ve shed many tears over leaving my friends (I’m eternally grateful to the ones who stuck by me, despite never returning their phone calls) and missing my family (I hate the distance between us and silently pray that they’ll all end up in CA); but the one thing I’ve tried not to do is look back. I realized from the moment I boarded that westbound plane that God had given me a rare opportunity that many people never get: The chance to start over.
I could have chosen to take the guilt of past failures with me to California and I could have continued with some of the negative behaviors I used to engage in; but I didn’t. (Although, if the truth be told, I’m still not very good at returning phone calls.) It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t of my own strength; but I chose to start over.
Before I go any further, let me go back. I felt the need to write this post after hearing that a friend of mine, who’s in her mid-30s, has checked back in to a treatment facility for women with eating disorders. This is her fifth stint in rehab; and when I heard that she was back in treatment, I began to think about how God has graciously spared me from continuing to struggle with a disease that plagues many women their entire lives. Apart from the grace of God, I can’t tell you why I no longer obsess over every bite of food that I put in my mouth or why the thought of gaining a few pounds doesn’t send me into a tail spin.
What I can tell you is that at some point in all of our lives, there comes a moment when we have to make a choice. The choice to stay in our comfort zone–which might mean continuing with some of the negative habits that have held us back from being the person that we’ve long desired to be. Or the choice to be courageous–the choice to step out in faith, dare to be different and live differently than we’re used to living.
I realize that not everyone is as fortunate as I was to have such a literal opportunity to make a clean break from their past; but I’d like to think that even in the six months of 2008 before I left North Carolina, I was making strides to change myself and my bad habits in order to be the type of friend, employee, daughter, sister and eventually wife, that I wanted to be.
My story is nothing special. I’m still a terribly flawed person who has to work on squelching my knee-jerk negative behaviors on a daily basis–and sometimes I don’t always do the best job of it. (Just ask Husband, or all the people whose phone calls I haven’t returned in the last week.) But my story is here to tell you all that change is possible. It does take courage–and a large helping of grace–but it can be done.
This post is dedicated to the women I know personally or I’ve “met” in the blogosphere who continually inspire me to write honestly and from the heart. Thank you, Gwen, Amanda, Allegra, Emma, and Jeanne.