|ponytails have just never been my look|
Once upon a time, that girl was me. I thought feminism was wrong and God's plan for me was to be a homemaker. I thought I couldn't be a functioning adult woman until I knew how to sew my own clothes and bake from scratch. I was convinced that four boys and four girls was the ideal family size.
Once upon a time, I went to a tiny Christian church that taught that contemporary Christian music was the devil's plan to ensnare teenagers. I watched videos on Wednesday nights about young earth creationism. I believed Christians couldn't be gay and Catholics were almost never "real Christians."
|this dress wasn't in style when I wore it, either|
Once upon a time, I went to summer camp. I broke up with my boyfriend, which left me with no potential husband to fulfill my homemaker dreams. I started feeling the push to go to college. So I sought a new God-written dream.
I wanted to make some giant spiritual impact, but women couldn't preach, and writing didn't feel big enough. I loved kids. So I'd teach in some impoverished gospel-lacking third-world country. I was convinced that this was God's new plan for me.
|actually, this look wasn't that bad, for middle school|
Once upon a time, I picked a nice little Christian school in the middle of nowhere. I made new Christian-school friends and studied in Christian-focused education and literature classes. I cried during chapel because I was so happy to be there. I believed I had found the happiest place I'd ever lived, there in my little Christian bubble.
Once upon a time, every time, I was a girl who just wanted to do the right thing. I thought modesty and homemaking were the high callings of my life. Then I thought missionary teaching was my destiny. I thought I belonged in an extreme church denouncing Catholics, and then I thought I belonged in a tiny Midwestern private school.
So many times, I was far from right. But I was never completely wrong.
There were many times in middle school when my best friend would come to my house and we would have a "fashion show." We took plenty of photos with my hand-me-down digital point-and-shoot. I tried to create as many themed outfits as my closet could provide. We did cowgirl ensembles, Paris fashionista poses, and combinations with every color in the rainbow. Those days were the most fun I had some months, but I wouldn't be caught dead in any of those outfits now. Most of them wouldn't even fit.
|those were my very favorite feetie pajamas|
If dreams were dresses, then I've outgrown plenty. "Baking from scratch" won't fit over my head. "Eight kids" is way too tight around the hips. "Young earth creationism" has comically short sleeves. The shoulder pads on "missionary teaching" are enough to give Stacy London nightmares. And the colors in "Midwestern Christian bubble" are starting to fade. But just because I've outgrown these dresses doesn't mean they didn't fit me well, once.
Growing up, these dresses fit me perfectly. I wasn't overdressed or under-dressed; the seams lay smooth; the color brought out my eyes. These dresses used to slide effortlessly over my head and were comfortable enough to wear for days on end. These dresses used to be just so me.
|my mom's prom dress at my Alice in Wonderland Sweet Sixteen|
Just like a twenty-year-old woman no longer fits in her middle-school wardrobe, I no longer fit in the dreams I had growing up. Just like dresses, I find some of my old dreams unfashionable, comical, unbelievable. But it was never wrong of my to have those dreams. Those dreams were a part of me, and they brought me to today.
Right now, I'm wearing the faded "Midwestern Christian bubble" dress. It's not my favorite anymore, but it's still in decent condition. It will last me a little longer. In about two years, I'll slip it off and find something else to wear.
While I wouldn't ever put the "eight kids" or "missionary teaching" dresses on again, I'm not about to burn them, either. I'll clean out my closet and send them to Goodwill. They don't fit me anymore, but they might be just what someone else is looking for. And if I happen to see those dresses again, bump into their new owners, I'll smile, nod, and be happy that someone else found their perfect fit.
I think, someday soon, I'll find mine.