Saturday, May 1, 2010
Wait, Is This Even Me? / Better Catholic?
Tonight I realized something very important about myself -- I had slowly been changing myself to fit the various molds that I was being put into. While listening to June Christy and Duke Ellington (some songs were blipped), it suddenly dawned on me that I missed the way I was before I started changing... a change which I didn't even realize I'd done. Before I go further, I should explain a few things.
Those of you who have known me long enough, or have read this blog almost from its inception, know that (until as recent as a year ago) I'd always been known as a hopeless romantic (though not necessarily in the "love and affection" sense) and a sucker for happy endings. Some of it is still obvious (my love of Jane Austen is a giveaway, lol), but it's not the same as it once was. I used to live and breathe songs by Ella Fitzgerald, June Christy, Renee Olstead, Billie Holiday, etc. Chick flicks were often my choice when going to the movies (though screwball comedies and comedies in general have always won over any/all other genres). Classic movies such as the Four Daughters film series, musicals such as An American in Paris and Good News, and screwball comedies like The Philadelphia Story and Vivacious Lady were my preferred viewing choices. Something about things that bring warm fuzzies have always been what I've liked the most. Being courted the old fashioned way, acting with modesty and decorum -- these are some of the things I would be happy with (minus the courting thing as I've never properly been courted; I'm in absolutely no rush to go there, especially because there is still so much I want to accomplish first). I was happy with this part of myself. I was unashamedly this way as well. Unfortunately, I unconsciously locked this part of myself up somewhere down the road.
While working on the novel, I've had to revisit some pleasant (as well as unpleasant) memories of previous years (early 2005 through early 2008). Without spoiling much, I will say that I've been listening a lot to the music I use to then and it has brought back so many memories attached to the songs. Most of them are of how I use to be happy with the things I've previously mentioned. As I mentioned a few months ago, I'm the type of girl that loves having flowers in every room. The idea of wearing skirts and heels a la the 1930s and 40s is incredibly appealing to me. Wearing a mantilla/chapel veil on Sunday, which wearing said skirts/dresses and heels seems like the proper, respectful thing to do while attending Mass. Being domestic (to the level it was prior to daddy's death) is something I actually look forward to. Maybe it was (and still is) all very idealistic, but I was happy with how I was.
The changes in me were subtle. I toned down the more "romantic" ideals and stuck with the more sensible (and serious) notions of what was expected of me. I took charge of my family (though, as Fr. Brian has pointed out, I've never really been a child since I've taken care of my parents since I was very young) and I tried to be as strong, both emotionally and mentally, as I could. I haven't allowed myself to cry as much as I've sometimes wanted (I'm very sensitive and even the thought of someone suffering makes me tear up) out of fear of being called oversensitive and overly emotional. Apparently a lot of people think that's a detestable quality. I've had an extremely "take care of business" mentality for over a year now. Though I've always been more practical than not, it's gotten to the point where I am not even having fun anymore. I study hard but I don't take the time to do many things I enjoy. I made the joke to a friend that I've become an anti-social nerd. I don't go out anymore; not that I did much in the first place. I have, in a sense, made myself into what has been expected of me -- a young sensible, responsible lady who's expected to focus on her schoolwork and on stifling her more romantic and emotional thoughts and ways. I'm expected to do everything for my mother because I'm now her only living relative and she heavily relies on me. I am expected to fit into everyone's ideal of what they want me to be -- some friends want to me be extremely serious and even become a religious sister, some want to be be a little spunky spitfire and always up for entertaining them, others want me shut up about my moral and thoughts (basically be "less Catholic"), a few even think I'm not Catholic enough. I can't win. I've been trying to please everyone, and not been happy in my attempts to not let anyone down, that I've lost the part of myself that I've always loved.
When I'm in my more idealistic/"romantic" frame of mind, I tend to be happier. I used to be able to do more of what I wanted and, somewhat ironically, be more in touch with the spiritual side of me. When I'm that way, I don't really care what others think of me (in the sense of whether or not I was being a good enough daughter/friend/Catholic) because I'm happy and I know that I'm doing exactly what God wants me to do/be -- not what others think I should do to get closer to Him. Where is that part of me now? I miss it and think I should quit trying to keep it hidden and bogged down.
One more thing... have you noticed the lack of the blog posts and the rigid formality in some of them? I have started to no longer enjoy what I write. When I started this blog, I did it to give everyone an unabashed look into what life was for a young Catholic lady -- good, bad, and everything in between. I knew I was going to make mistakes and would have to own up to those mistakes when I blogged, but that was the point. I am not a saint, though I certainly aspire to be one. I'm not done in my education of all things Catholicism; I'm still just scratching the surface. This blog was never intended to have all the break news of what's happening in our world; there are plenty of blogs and news websites on that. Instead, I wanted it to be a more personalized blog in which I would say how certainly things happening both in the Catholic and secularized world affect me and those around myself. I wanted it to be more personal (have I stressed that enough?) and I thought it would be neat to see how my progress was going. It seems that I have deviated from that just a little.
After a little soul searching, I've decided to return to how things were -- just a little older and (hopefully) a little wiser. Though I'm certainly not going to revert to all my old ways (I've changed and grown for the better in some aspects), I do want to return to how I was prior to all the stress and pressure to act and say what is/was expected of me. This blog (which has slowly been coming back in this direction; exhibit a) the blog layout) will also return to its initial purpose: just an ordinary young woman trying to navigate her way through this world with her ideas, morals, and faith intact. All the previous blogs I'd been writing but not published were too formal so they won't be getting posted (well, not all of them). I am returning to the basics. If I lose a few readers, I won't take it personally. I never kept this blog because I wanted such a huge reader base. I'm still surprised so many people are even remotely interested in what I write.
As for my old ways, I would like to ask friends who read this blog to please respect my decision. Please don't try to make me feel guilty for wanting to do my own thing once again. I love you all but I need to do this for myself. So, please, no more "you should become a religious sister; you're better suited for it since you don't mind the solitude"... no more "quit being so idealistic"... no more pressure to be "a better Catholic" or to "shut up" when topics such as pro-life and abstinence come up. I believe what I do and I think I deserve the same respect I show those who don't agree with my points of view. I'd like to do things on my own pace. I will continue to learn about the more "traditional" Catholicism I feel is the better suit for my ideals and philosophy. I'm sorry that the Novus Ordo does not appeal to me but I will participate in what doesn't make me literally cringe because I'm still there for God regardless. (side note: I still refuse to clap and do certain things in these Masses). I am still learning, though, so if some of you "trad Catholics" have the patience to teach me, I totally welcome my education of it -- I still have so much to learn on things pre-Vatican II.
Phew. That was a load off my mind. Again, if you would rather not read my blog after what I've written, I understand and will not be hurt. If I stay true to who I am and what I want to write, there will be more entries written as I will not be pressured to come up with some amazing entry that defends our faith. I will, of course, still do this because I am so impassioned about certain things -- but it will all be based on my knowledge and feelings about the topics. As I wrote the day I began this blog (Dec. 25, 2007): "There are no guarantees that I won't make a mistake or two along the way, but I will learn and I am willing to share my experiences with whomever wants to read about them." I will return to the plans I had as a 22 year-old and be happy. :)
If you're still with me at this point, God Bless you! I tend to write quite a bit, don't I? lol. Thank you for reading everything; honestly, I greatly appreciate it. :)
I hope everyone has a blessed weekend and St. Joseph the Worker Feast Day. Happy feast day to all those named Joseph or those who chose St. Joseph as their confirmation saint. :)
As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!