I don't really know what to write about this morning.
But I can tell you that there's a rebelliousness stirring in my soul.
I also wore all white to work today, and that makes me feel 1) like a million dollars and 2) somehow subversive.
Yes, it's a subversiveness that's starting to take root. And maybe "take root" isn't the phrase -- maybe what I mean is that there are the beginnings of a tornado starting to stir above the hard, packed earth of West Texas.
You know what I mean; we've all got this motif in our head (especially if we're Texans; represent). It's almost like a cartoon where you have swirling ink lines to denote the wind. You can see the whorls start to circle above one small spot on the packed red earth. A few leaves are lifted up; you can see the dust mites start to swirl. And before you know it it's a full-blown twister, and there are storm clouds on the horizon.
I don't know about storm clouds in my soul (though I've written about them here before). Mostly I feel like a hot summer day. It's Texas summer now, which is the time of year I tell my Northern friends about when they complain about it being eighty degrees where they live, God bless 'em. I'm starting to feel like one of our days. Dry, like it is out here in Lubbock, and bright and still and blazing hot.
Blazing being the operative word.
Something about summer is restless, waiting to burst into flame all around you, and that's a little bit how I feel.
I am ready to ignite.
I am a pretty non-confrontational person; I don't go looking for a fight. But for the last few days, I've had a kind of Fight me feeling lurking in the back of my mind and heart and throat.
Maybe it comes from defying others' expectations of me. Maybe I feel that people expect certain things of me, and I am ready to burn through and past those expectations. Of course, maybe I'm imagining that; it wouldn't be the first time. It's entirely possible that no one has those kinds of expectations of me -- the kind about who you are and what you should do with your life.
I have a sneaking suspicion (it's not really sneaking anymore; it's stomping about my head) that when I say I don't want to be an opera singer, not for my whole life goal -- I have a suspicion that some people will be shocked and offended and think I'm making the wrong decision.
To which my inner self juts her chin out defensively, a la Cherubino, and says, "Come at me, bro."
She is itching for a fight. She is ready to kick.
I think this essay was originally going to be about how I feel rebellious. I didn't know that I'd start asking myself why I felt that way.
Am I defensive? I think I've just recently kicked off this certain identity that I've used to describe myself for so long, and I'm skittish about letting any part of it back in.
I've put myself in a box for such a long time that I'm ready to bite and fight anyone who tries to put me back in the box.
And let me tell you, I'm not a good fighter in real life. In my spirit, maybe, against principalities and powers -- but in front of actual people, I tend to shut down. Physically, I'm on the petite side, so I'm not a very intimidating person; even in the kinds of disagreements girls (not women) tend to get into, the mind-games type, I'm not necessarily a force. I'm more like a wall than a fire.
And I'm even more like water than like the wall. Flowing unperturbed down from the mountain heights. The fire stops here, at the river's edge.
But somewhere in my heart is a willingness to fight you. To push back.
In a way, writing is my fight. It's my declaration of independence, my way of saying I will not sit idly by and [fill in the blank here]. It's my way of saying I will not. Or I will.
It's my way of declaring what I am about. Note that when I decided not to go to grad school, I did not announce it on social media, but I wrote about it here.
It's my way of saying This Is Who I Am -- and you will not stifle me.
You know, I very rarely edit here. Sometimes if there's a paragraph that doesn't make sense, or a lot of vamping to get to where I need to be, or (usually) spelling/punctuation errors made in my fast typing. But I don't usually edit. That's mostly because I like what I have to say, but also because I don't believe in making myself less vulnerable.
Maybe vulnerable is not the word. There are a couple of screens between you and me, and in real life, I definitely edit myself. But this is my place to Speak.
It's my place to remind myself that I am a warrior. Hopefully it's your place for that, too.
Writing is my fight.
And I gotta tell ya, I am ready for a fight. I am itching. I am daring everyone around me.
Of course, I don't actually believe I'm called to a fight here, and maybe this is a childish reaction to expectations that may be merely imagined. But I am of the belief that this feeling counts, and it matters. It counts, and it matters. It counts. And it matters.
So I don't really know what this post is about. But it counts, and it matters.
If I'm itching for a fight, maybe I need to pay attention to that.
Maybe it's that I've tried to prove myself to others for so long, and now that my primary mechanism for that (singing) is no longer said primary mechanism, maybe my body and soul and mind and heart are looking for another way.
Maybe I'm being preemptively defensive. Maybe it's time for me to let my guard down.
I was praying about that this morning. I'm sick and tired of trying to control aspects of my life. There's a certain relationship in my life that I don't mean to try to control, but I'm so hyper-aware that I cannot even begin to convince myself that I am not attempting to strong-arm something. I am aware of what I say, every motion I make. I'm so busy trying to play it cool.
But gah, I'm sick of that. I just want to let go. I want to not be cool. Because this relationship is safe. It's good and beautiful and lovely and a gift. And I am safe within it. But I'm so concerned with control and I am ready to let my guard down. I am ready to stop trying to control it. And I am ready to let my guard down and be tender and vulnerable.
Last summer I went to a program for young singers in Vancouver, BC (which was beautiful), and I had a private session with a woman who is essentially a performance therapist. She pointed out something that I think I had always known, but I needed someone to say to me. She said that I needed to carry my vulnerability AND my strength in both hands. I didn't need anyone to tell me I was vulnerable; it means something when someone says that I am strong. But I also have trouble showing my vulnerability.
If I feel safe with you, I want to be broken in front of you.
I want to be as dorky as I possibly can. I want to love you and everything with all the strength of my being and not be trying the whole time to play it cool.
I don't want to fight. I don't want to control.
You see, I am both a warrior princess and a maiden who has hopelessly, desperately lost her way. Been robbed of everything I have.
I am both sitting on the side of the road, looking up at you with hopeful eyes, and I am also staring you straight in the face as I rest my hands on the hilt of my sword.
I've written about this here before: I am both honey and steel. When I originally wrote that essay, I was just trying to remember that I am strong. That I am not a china doll. Now I am trying to remember that the tender side of me can be the most beautiful. I feel I've been trying to remember that for forever.
It's the thing I struggle with the most.
Maybe the reason I'm itching for a fight is because I'm so afraid of being vulnerable. Of having people point their finger at me and whisper behind my backs. So much wasted talent, I imagine they will say.
And maybe I'm afraid that they are right.
How can I know what will happen to me even next week, let alone next school year? Let alone with my life? For all I know, I might never sing again.
And maybe I'm afraid that everyone who disapproves of me is right.
A lot of my life has been me trying to prove myself to other people. I think a good chunk of my undergrad degree was that. A good chunk of me trying to get into music grad school was that. And then I proved I could do it, and I was good. My soul felt free.
And what if I stopped trying to prove that I was good and instead started simply being?
I think I'm on that path now. I know what I feel like now.
I know that there are parts of me that are sassy and wry, but I also know there are parts of me that cry at I-don't-know-what. That are crying out, I beg you: love me.
I want to hold my vulnerability and my strength in both my cupped hands and offer them to you like a sacrifice. Maybe this is what Paul says when he talks about our bodies as living sacrifices. Holy, acceptable to God -- our whole selves.
I have trouble even presenting my entire self to God. Who made me. For the love.
I want to offer myself to you and you and, yes, even you as from a ladle on a hot summer's day. And we've come back around to Texas summer how is THAT for some good writing, folks.
When I wrote "ladle" I thought of the Big Dipper. And maybe I'm more of a Little Dipper, size-wise (remember: petite and blonde), but the sentiment is the same.
I want to sparkle and shine, but gently. I do not want to blaze (unless it's necessary).
I want to be an offering. I want to be a drink of water: icy cold, invigorating, nourishing.
Most of all, I want to be myself. In all my corners and my tendernesses. As if sharp elbows were tempered by the soft skin of my cheek.
Yes, most of all -- most of all I want to be myself.
The fight and the weeping and all of it combined.