It was autumn. My first semester of college. My friends and I were hanging out in the guys' dorm. At least six, but probably more like eight or ten of us were packed in this tiny corner dorm room on the fourth floor. Somebody stood at the mini-fridge and offered cans of soda. He tossed one my way. I dropped the soda and then blurted out my first swear word. The room fell silent and then erupted with laughter. No one expected Julie, including Julie herself, to say something like that.
It was a shocking, exhilarating, authentic moment.
Over time my good girl status became a self-inflicted burden. I really was a good girl—it wasn't in my nature to do things most of my peers did, to step outside prescribed boundaries. The problem was my motivation. I was so intent on being good to make other people happy and to not disappoint that I wasn't making decisions for myself. There is nuance here that I hope I'm able to convey. At 42, I am making decisions solely based on what's best for my heart and soul and while on the surface those decisions may not look much different from decisions I've made in the past, they FEEL COMPLETELY DIFFERENT because I'm no longer looking for approval.
This is what I wish I could have known at 22. I came to a crossroads a few times where I had to choose one direction over another and in those early adulthood years, I always chose the "approved" route. I am certain I missed out on adventures that would have been really good for my younger self to have experienced.
All of this is topical for me now as I carve out a solo life for myself and also contemplate how to guide my pre-teen daughter as she enters her teenage years. I want her to be safe and smart, but I also want her to experience life. I want her to know that she's going to make mistakes, and I will be there for her when she needs to debrief and figure out where she made a wrong turn.
While every parent wants their kids to be "good," at this stage of life my interest is focused on my child being whole. I want her to practice making decisions that honor herself, that keep her safe, but also that make for a rich, "extraordinary-in-its-ordinariness" life.
I am mothering us both toward wholeness.