Log in

06 October 2009 @ 01:24 pm
Be yourself, misfits!  
I’ve never considered myself either a tomboy, or a girly-girl. I never gave it much thought at all until I moved... to Utah!

It had never occurred to me that my wardrobe of t-shirts and jeans was anything other than average. But that was before I’d entered a new world – where girls wore ribbons in their hair and jewelry dangling from every available body part (even while playing Capture the Flag with the ward.) Where anyone with XX chromosomes gushed over babies, sighed over cutesy wall hangings, squealed and jumped around upon seeing a friend, and recoiled in horror from anything other than the sweetest of romance movies. During my first summer in Provo, my roommates and I went to see The Dark Knight. I swear to you, I am not making this up – they cowered in their seats the entire time and, upon returning to the apartment, immediately turned on the Enchanted DVD to “cheer themselves up.”

I felt vastly inferior and out of place. I was told how weird I was for having a “gross frog” as a pet. I was a “downer” for not wanting to dress as a Disney Princess for Halloween, like everyone had planned. For my birthday, my roommates offered to take me to the salon for a makeover. I politely declined, saying it wasn’t really my thing, and was met with frowns of confusion. (I got a similar reaction upon mentioning that I did not get my eyebrows professionally waxed, did not go tanning, and had never had a manicure.) I think I was the only girl in the ward with my natural hair color - and I felt bad for it. Everyone has different interests and tastes, of course, but this particular brand of femininity was so overwhelming, so ubiquitous and just everywhere, that I began to wonder if this was how I should dress, behave, be. Couldn’t I be just as beautiful and stylish as them?

I embarked upon a mission to try. I bought a whole new wardrobe and cut my hair in a trendy style. I attempted to emulate the makeup everyone else wore, and bought a slew of accessories I saw everyone carrying. But I felt uncomfortable in my new get-up; like I was wearing someone else’s clothes. I felt as if everyone could tell I wasn’t really like them, as if I was an imposter trying to be something I wasn’t.

I’d done the same thing in high school, though, going through various phases and styles in an attempt to “belong” somewhere, to fit in and be liked, accepted, valued. Eventually I’d given up and decided to wear exactly what I wanted. But where had that confidence and individuality gone? Was I giving it up without a fight, in the face of some bottle-blondes in stilettos?

One night, before a ward activity, I said “no more” and reached for my England soccer jersey instead of a ruched babydoll top. It didn’t go unnoticed; a roommate asked me what it was for, with a mixture of curiosity and disapproval. But she wasn’t the only one. A young man approached me that evening, my shirt having caught his eye. Turns out soccer was only one of many things we had a lot in common. Ten months later, I married him in the temple.

It pays to be yourself!
joepuentejoepuente on October 6th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
God bless you and amen! That is AWESOME!
Katkat on October 6th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
: )
meeblog on October 6th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
Great post! Thanks!
Kay McIntoshkaygreyhelm on October 6th, 2009 10:40 pm (UTC)
The more I read stuff from my fellow Misfits, the more I am convinced I am the only person that has had an amazing experience in moving to Utah, hasn't noticed the stereotypes, and love it here like crazy. But then again, I also didn't have to brave the BYU singles' wards. I came here pre-packaged as a married gal. So maybe that has made all the difference.

But congrats on your tremendous results in being yourself. :) I wear tee shirts and jeans every day, dye my hair rarely and only to suit myself, and didn't even get my nails done for my wedding. So, good for you.
nonamelonglostblue on October 6th, 2009 10:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I really enjoy my married ward, but the single ward was like o_O

I hope this post didn't come across as overly whiny or anything! I'm glad I came to Utah, I just struggled a bit with the culture shock.
ritzcrackermanritzcrackerman on October 7th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
During my first summer in Provo, my roommates and I went to see The Dark Knight. I swear to you, I am not making this up – they cowered in their seats the entire time and, upon returning to the apartment, immediately turned on the Enchanted DVD to “cheer themselves up.”

Provo is nuts, btw. No one there is normal.

I went to BYU for a year, and brought my fiancee with me (like "taking sand to the beach," as a friend of mine said). She fits your description perfectly. It was such a rat race and such a blown-up bizarre-o world of feminity that she went nuts-o, and we moved back home and got married shortly thereafter. Good for you for finding someone who valued you for what you were, and not what you tried to be.
the end has no endwe_like_you on October 7th, 2009 01:07 am (UTC)
WOOHOO! :D Great post!
HailerStarhailerro on October 7th, 2009 02:26 am (UTC)
Totally love this. (As I'm a fan of thinking people find the people that are right for them when they stop trying so hard). Plus I love the fact that I too am a T-shirt and jeans kinda girl. I have jewelry that I might wear on special occasions but mostly it gets in the way of doing day to day things. I'm most comfortable in jeans and tennis shoes. (I'm not a complete tomboy but I definitely am not a 'girly girl' ... alas ... to my poor mother's chagrin - as she IS a 'girly girl' who won't go out with out make-up, does her nails a few times a week, spends over an hour in the morning on making sure her hair is just right). I don't fault her for that. I think it's just a difference of opinion and attitude and that's fine, just so long as no one tries to make me conform to it.
I'm glad you were yourself and found the right one to marry as a result of that.
I'm a little sad that your friends didn't appreciate you for who you were and didn't 'get' that not everyone is into saloning, tanning, and the like.
Moosejaw Bordeou: normal 9pantstacular on October 7th, 2009 04:53 am (UTC)
Epic story. I used to try to hide my interest and such from people at church, but I feel better when I just act like myself. Because I'm with you, I'm not a girly girl but not a tom-boy so most of my wardrobe is jeans/t-shirts. But you know, I've gone all out with my hair and make-up and I get the same reactions I do when I hop out of the shower and leave. And I lol'd at the Batman thing. AlthoughIloveEnchanted*cough*
Delron Draconisworld_wanderer on October 7th, 2009 06:55 am (UTC)
one reason I decided not to go to BYU. I'm finding I'm fitting in much better out here in Laramie than I would there.
Kobh: Sinfest - lil buddha - zen zap the chaoskobh on October 7th, 2009 09:34 am (UTC)
dustydistaff on October 7th, 2009 01:18 pm (UTC)
A lot of it really is a singles ward thing, especially young single's wards. (wards full of older singles tend to be more normal). I think a lot of peoples' culture shock comes from moving out for college and jumping straight into a singles ward full of freshmen exactly like the one described. I had a lot of problems fitting in when I first moved out here, though I stubbornly stuck to my own style and preferences. It's funny you mention the Disney princess thing, though, because I had some good friends who did that. They actually convinced me to be Princess Jasmine to round out their group. Every once in a while I do something totally crazy like that.
I'm glad you stood up for yourself and things worked out so well.
MiriamG: Izumimiriamg on October 7th, 2009 01:29 pm (UTC)
Awesome post! :D
lips of steelsniffme on October 8th, 2009 07:25 am (UTC)
Haha! That's so great!
HorndogRobhorndogrob on October 10th, 2009 02:54 am (UTC)
It's weird to me that a bunch of super Mormon's would want to be Disney princesses. Disney princesses don't really fit our model of modesty. I can't tell you how many times I've had to tell my six year old to put some freakin' clothes on because she was trying to "be a princess."

Kudos on being yourself. =)