If you know me even the slightest bit, you'll have noticed my self confidence. At least that's my guess. I don't really have many opportunities to see myself through others eyes, so I gotta just go on what I've heard and what I hope I portray.
I never was the girl who did things looking for a guys approval. I always thought, and still do, that they should try and earn mine first. I was not the girl who stopped bringing artichokes to school for lunch because I got made fun of. I was the girl who brought extra to share with anyone who made fun of it and dared them to try some.
I was not raised on the "speak when spoken to" philosophy, though I imagine, at times, my parents wished they had. I got in a heated debate with an elderly gentleman in my dad's barbershop chorus at the ripe old age of three. I remember exactly none of it, but have been told on more than one occasion that no one could hold their own with him, and I did for at least a half hour. I was raised to voice my opinion, to stand strong, to back up my reasonings.
My parents own their own business, and they knew the downfalls of having "yes people" around them. We all know those people. They're the ones who get where they get by sucking up, and not on talent. They will never reach true heights in their organizations, because the only contribution they bring is the stroking of their superior's ego. So I was brought up to be the opposite, almost to a fault. In student council, with nearly every plan that was brought up, I could find a flaw, and usually within minutes. I was consistently told to stop being a "Negative Nelly," to be a team player, to support and not tear down. I never really understood these accusations of me being "negative," because I simply saw it as being helpful. You can't do repairs, fix things, or make things better if you don't know what's wrong in the first place. But its generally not something most people value or enjoy, and it's what I blame my failed run for President on.
I've found that most people find debating and disagreement to be a negative thing, while I find it fun and entertaining. It's my favorite brain activity. I often have ended disagreements feeling recharged, and was only recently told by my mother, that to most they are draining.
Now, I tell you all this, not to sing my praises (because, believe me, this is not a easy or fun road to go down all the time), but to set the stage for what is one of the most trying circumstances of my life: The blind submission chapter of my life.
Now, like I said, I was raised to question. I was taught that you should ask things like why and how. And I fully agree with how I was raised. Self confidence, or lack there of, is one of the worst things that can happen to any person. I would say most "bad things" can be traced back to it. However, this questioning attitude often hinders us greatly in the submission part of our lives.
Now, I would like to say right away that I think blind submission is one of the worst things you can ever do. That's part of how girls end up staying with dead beat guys, bad people get put in power, and a myriad of other things that should never happen, happen because no one has a back bone and won't stand up for what is right and good. Also, I would like to say that true submission does not really happen when you agree with what is going on. It would be super easy for me to "submit" to the call to travel the world. I want to do that. It was not easy for me to submit to the call to go to NHCC. It was, in fact, the #1 on my list of things I would never do. (By the way, don't make one of those lists. I've done just about everything on mine. And I loved every single one.)
While in Mexico, I was in a situation where blind submission was the only option. I had an 11 o'clock curfew, the first one I had ever had in my life. I was told I could no longer spend time alone with these 3 guys, who at the time were the only ones who spoke english and I could relate too. I was told that I couldn't let people know that I used certain feminine products. I was told that I had to be at every single church activity that happened. I was told that I should spend any and all free time I had, with the people who I didn't necessarily get along with, or speak their language, and get to know them better. I was told many, many things, and I wasn't exactly ever asked my opinion, thoughts, or disagreements.
As you may imagine, I was not exactly a fan of this.
This was contrary to nearly everything I had been brought up to be. I was told that I should be proud of who I was, that uniqueness should be celebrated, that my voice should be heard and I should announce my opinions loudly. I had never really done anything that would bring distrust on me, nor been told that I should behave in a manner contrary to how I would normally act. (I'd like to interject here that I am in no way trying to say that I was, am or ever will be perfect. But as far as going through a rebellious phase, it pretty much was a day at school where I wore a polo with cap sleeves and pants that weren't a 100% cotton. And that was about it. ( Side note, my school has gotten rid of that crazy rule now. And I had agreed to it, so I was the one at fault.))
I wanted oh so desperately to fight against this, but I didn't know how. It wasn't like I could just be like "I'm done," and fly back to Minnesota. And just flat out disobeying was never something I could pull off. Some of the rules I knew were there for good reasons, but I just didn't believe that those reasons applied to me. And so I was stuck in a brand new situation where I had no option that I was comfortable with, other than to hold my tongue and submit.
It is difficult, and in some cases, even dangerous, to submit to things you don't agree with, but I would not trade that experience for anything. And I'm not saying like the people and the food outweighed the having to submit hardship. I'm saying that I learned so much from having to say no to myself. Like learning that I do not have to get the last word in, or always be right, or that I don't need credit for every good thing I do. That it's a good thing to let others shine and to take a step back sometimes. That sometimes traditions are traditions are traditions, and my disagreement doesn't matter and really isn't important. I learned that there are things worth fighting for, and I learned how to find out what those are. I learned self control. I learned patience. I learned humility. I learned true trust.
I want you all to know that I hold absolutely no hard feelings towards the people that put me in this situation. If anything, I am thankful for them. For forcing me into that situation. For making me uncomfortable with where I was, so that I had nowhere to go but up, to grow. I know that during this period, I probably wasn't my most pleasant and compliant self, and yet they stuck with me and are now some of my favorite people on the planet. I know that had it not been for them, I would, well, I certainly wouldn't be admitting to people my many, many failings. And for that, I thank them.
The experience of submitting was one of the most painful I have ever gone through. It is not one you should go into while you are weak. It is, however, one, that when approached correctly, can refine you like a fire. And if you're ever in that place, I encourage you to just let go, and let God.
Thank you all for reading. I would again like to stress that questions are a very good thing, and if you have people in your life who are telling you otherwise, you should probably take a closer look at that relationship. Without questions, we don't learn. However, there is much to be learned when we are in uncomfortable situations, so learn to embrace. And as always, please comment away with any agreements, disagreements, similar situations, or random thoughts that come to you, either here, in an email, or on Twitter! I love you all, and I've missed you so much!