Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On Changing One's Mind

via Suburban Misfit

Wedding dress shopping completely terrified me. First, I don't really like trying on clothes in front of people. More importantly, after some browsing the internet for a while, I was quite convinced that I would never find something I liked that was "wedding" enough for my family and that didn't cost a fortune. My requirements were simple:

1. It must not cost more than my laptop (which is infinitely more useful than a dress)
2. It must not preclude me from using the bathroom by myself  
3. It must not be fluffy, foofy, or reminiscent of a cupcake
4. It must not be covered in sparkles, glitter, sequins, or other excessively shiny things
5. It must not prevent me from walking through doors like a normal person
6. It must not have things which I might trip over (read: train)
7. It must have straps.

I was going for something simple, easy, and preferably flowy and elegant.

The dress I brought home (after a wonderfully un-terrifying experience) is flowy and elegant. It is not sparkly or shiny, excessively fluffy, or terribly expensive. I'm fairly certain I can manage bathrooms and doorways without too much trouble. However, it is in that dreaded mermaid silhouette, the one I derided as weird and poofy, saying that it made it look like one had a second waist at the knees. It is also strapless, though it does have optional spaghetti straps. And I really, really like it. 

And in this process I came to a distinct realization. I hate changing my mind. It makes me feel embarrassed and somewhat guilty. I was ashamed that I had changed my mind about the type of wedding dress I wanted.

And this shame (unfortunately) isn't limited to wedding dresses. It extends to my plans after college. What if I tell people I'm going to go abroad after graduation but then I decide I'd rather stay in the States and enjoy being married for a little while? What if I say I'm applying for graduate school but then decide to take a year off?
It applies to the social commitments I make.
What if I tell someone I'm going to be involved in some organization but then realize that my schedule won't allow it? What if I say I'll be somewhere but then I don't feel well?
It applies to most of my life decisions in general.
How do I tell people I'm getting married young after I was so adamant about staying single until my career was established? How do I explain why I decided not to study abroad my junior year? 

I think the shame stems from my fears of others' expectations and thoughts. I've always wanted to be thought of as a person of my word. If I say something, I'll do it. And changing my mind sometimes feels like I'm breaking my word. I'm afraid I'll be given that label that's so often affixed to the female gender: "fickle." I'm afraid that I'm admitting that I was wrong, and, in so many of these cases where others whom I respect have encouraged me to pursue a particular direction, I'm afraid that I'm telling them they're wrong too. I'm afraid that I'm second guessing myself, making the wrong decision, chickening out. 

But this is wrong. 

Like it or not, changing one's mind is a key part of life. One cannot just go steamrolling through life on one set course and expect things to turn out well. Successful living requires constant reevaluation and recalculation. (Even my quirky little GPS takes time to recalculate, granted generally at the most inopportune moments.) No one expects me to know exactly where I'm going-- as events unfold and I mature and learn and grow, I will change my course. Keeping my word is important, but so is the ability to reassess, to admit shortcomings and oversights, and to try something different. Honestly, I don't think anyone can say they know exactly where they are going and how they will get there. That would be unreasonable. 

And so I must continue to remind myself that it's perfectly reasonable to change my mind. It's okay that my dress looks a bit different than I thought it would, that my post-graduation plans might not turn out how I've envisioned them, and that my interests and commitments are ever evolving. Reassess, recalculate, move forward. It's life. 

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