Personal authenticity has been on my mind for most of the summer. My swirling thoughts about it solidified a little after I read this lovely post by Definitely RA about things she will do and things she won’t do, even if it feels like everyone else is doing (and loving) them.
I’ve noticed this specifically because of Pinterest – the same things get pinned over and over again, and I start to think, “Does everyone really love chevron that much? Or do they just think they should like it?”
“Does everyone aspire to make their own magnet boards out of cookie sheets?”
Since we’ve returned home from vacation, I’ve tried to think more proactively about what I really like.
What do I want to read? I want to read what appeals to me, whether it’s something that’s boring to other people or something that others look down on for being low-brow. Right now, I’m reading a lot of adult non-fiction and picture books. I’m reading less YA right now than I have in years.
What creative outlets do I want to pursue? I’ve realized that sewing is just not that enjoyable to me. I can do it, but it doesn’t really fulfill me and I find myself really frustrated most of the time. I’m happy to keep buying my clothing at the store. But I do like activities that have less margin for error and that use my hands while letting me listen to audiobooks, like glass painting or fooling around in Photoshop.
What kind of weekend activities do I like to do? How do I like spending my time with Ella and Bart on a Saturday morning? I like to get outside for walks, try new restaurants, and not feel like I have to do something “productive.” Spending the morning playing a hundred games of Memory in Ella’s bedroom while Bart and I talk about hamburger joints in Austin may not make for good blog posts, but it makes me happy.
What do I like to wear? I don’t want anything fussy. I like simple outfits, few accessories, and basic things like black shirts, jeans, and flats. I like Merrick’s philosophy about pinning outfits on Pinterest – she told me she doesn’t pin any outfits that she doesn’t already own at least one part of. She wants it to be a “how to make my existing wardrobe work” pinboard, rather than a “things I wish I owned and now I look with despair at my own non-Anthropologie/J.Crew wardrobe” pinboard.
How do I like my house to look? I like neutrals with some bright colors. I like clean lines and modern looks. I don’t like anything distressed or “shabby chic.” I don’t like knick-knacks or things that look homemade. I don’t like cutesy. I really like things to be well-organized, and I like as many places to sit down as possible.
What activities do I do with Ella? I was really inspired by what Princess Nebraska said recently when someone asked her how she manages to wear wedges while having two little children: “I wish I was a playground mom, but I’m just not. Guilt over that fact
never turned me into a playground mom, it just turned me into a mom who
felt guilty for not going to the playground. Now I don’t go and I don’t
worry about it.” I’ve heard my mom say the same thing about her own parenting many times – she did the things she liked to do. So Ella and I go to the library a lot, take walks, and have friends over. We cook together and read books on the couch. We go to stores and wander around. I don’t make up stories or play with toys.
I think it takes a lot of time to figure out what you really like. You aren’t going to know, usually, by 18 or 19. At 26 (and 363 days), I’m only just starting to be able to wrap my head around the fashion and home design things I gravitate toward. Taste in entertainment and activities will likely change over time. Eating habits may be vastly different ten years apart. I like the opportunity to explore new things and figure out what really is the best fit for me.
I want to be happy with my own life and who I am. I want the things I wear, the way I eat and decorate and entertain and and spend my time to reflect who I really am and what I really like, not force myself into some box that I think I should fit into.
And I have to say, I’ve felt more fulfilled, more happy, and less frustrated as I work to fill my life with things that make me happy and stop doing the things that I don’t really want to do.