A couple of weekends ago I traveled to Austin to visit two of my best friends from college. We’re all in our thirties and still single. As we shared our dating war stories, we reminisced about who we were in college. We weren’t a whole lot different from who we are now, except when it came to men we would try to conform to whomever we thought our latest crush/boyfriend wanted us to be.
For example, there was the outdoorsy guy.
You know, the one who thought there was nothing greater in life than scaling up big rocks and camping, regardless of the fact that it was 110 degrees outside + humidity + mosquitos. I even bought one of those fancy backpacks from R.E.I. I used it once and all my friends made fun of it and called it a “papoose” because it was SO big and so unnecessary for our one night camping trip.
There was also the athletic guy.
He may not have played college sports, per se, but he loved to watch it and play on intramural teams. After attempting to play one season of intramural soccer and realizing that there was more to the game than just trying to get that black and white ball into the net (including A LOT of running), I hung up my soccer cleats and took my position as biggest fan. I was at every game said boy was playing, cheering him on, and pretending to not only know what was going on, but to actually care.
I’ll even admit that in my last relationship I found myself conforming.
He was the cleaning guy. He was obsessed with Method cleaning products and what they stand for as a company. I had occasionally picked up their products because of their ultra-cool branding. I mean, if you want to sell me something, put it in cute packaging! I still use Method products today for their cute packaging, their great scents, and their safe eco-friendly products. But if I’m being honest, I only started using them religiously to impress him.
I don’t necessarily regret trying to conform to these patterns.
It has certainly conﬁrmed one thing: I am an AC girl. I live in the South where it is hot at least six months a year. I do enjoy being outdoors in the spring or fall; I just don’t necessarily see the need to spend an entire night outdoors, regardless of how beautiful the stars are. I still hate playing sports, but I’ve discovered that I don’t mind running—at my own pace—because it’s good for me.
I’ve learned that I don’t need to try to be someone I’m not because of who Christ created me to be.
Don’t get me wrong—I still struggle at times, wondering if I’m enough. Unfortunately, I think most women do. But daily I have to lay that down and live in the freedom of who Christ created me to be. I believe whomever God chooses to bring into my life will appreciate these things about me as well.
And, if he just so happens to be one of those outdoorsy, athletic types? Well, I will gladly encourage him to schedule regular camping/sporting trips with his buddies. Because let’s face it: We need those times with our good friends to laugh about the silly things we used to do and to challenge us to be the men and women God intended for us to be.
Cynthia Shahan loves to travel, and her favorite summer treat is ice water from Sonic with lots of lemons and real cherries. She recently moved with her dog Merlot to Columbia, South Carolina, where she will be starting a Masters of Pastoral Counseling degree at Columbia International University in the fall. You can find her on Twitter @cynthiashahan or check out her blog at graceeventually.blogspot.com.
*Photo credit: slgckgc