I was raised in a time and culture that put high emphasis on girls being “good”, obedient, “ladylike”, and to accept authority without question. It wasn’t a harsh environment, but there was a thick cloud of expectations. Living up to them consumed all my energy, and still left me falling short.
Becoming an adult, and particularly becoming an older adult, has freed me from most of the mental authoritarianism. When I got out into the real world (my first post-college job was in the State Street Bank Building in Boston – big city love!) I came to appreciate the variety of human experience, and gradually to trust my own decisions.
Last week I got a an email from my friend Suzanne Carillo. It included this wisdom:
Remember, you alone get to choose what matters and what doesn’t. The meaning of everything in your life has precisely the meaning you give it.
Yes! We get to decide! What a revolutionary concept for everyone, and especially for those of us raised in a strict and religious home. And even though I’m 62, and left home at 18, the early programming has been deeply embedded. The vestigial guilt and fear still want to have some power, but now the (usually) quiet revolution is taking over. We get to decide!
Here’s a real-life example of how freeing it is to choose: I decided to cut back my volunteering hours at the thrift. Three of my dear friends have left, and it’s not as joyful as it once was. I still swing by to help on Friday afternoons, and we support the Humane Society financially. But when the joy left, I had a talk with myself and said “just because you’ve been doing this for years doesn’t commit you to do it forever.”
I get to choose what’s next for volunteering: maybe Hospice, or the Women’s Center, or NOW, or the League of Women Voters, or something I don’t even know about yet.
Style-wise, I’m giving myself permission to dress in my favorite pieces every day, and to buy better stuff. After thrifting for years – and I’m not done! – I’m also looking at high-quality clothing that costs a few more donuts. Smaller and better is my wardrobe goal. If yours is bigger and better, that’s all good too. You get to choose.
Stay fabulous and enjoy the revolution, xox,
Here’s some Spring pretties to browse:
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