In Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland, there is a scene where the White Queen says, "Alice, you cannot live your life to please others. The choice must be yours, because when you step out to face that creature, you will step out alone."
I've been sitting with those words for a few days now - marveling over and over at the full and heavy truth they hold. The journey of growing up is a series of quests - and the only way to fulfill your destiny - is to fully embrace it as your own.
This is the second lesson that I wish someone had told me about becoming a woman.
Your life is your epic adventure.
You cannot live your life to please others
I didn't know this as a young woman and I didn't know this as a young mother. Please forgive me. There were times when I was so driven to please people that I said and did horrifying things like compare you to others to "motivate" you, or spent more energy noticing what needed to be worked on before you were an adult and on your own rather than just celebrating the fact that you were friggin five years old! (By the way, I want you to know you were amazing at five, and six, and eight, and twelve, and fifteen. Sixteen is questionable... Just kidding - laugh..)
I think what stands out the most in this phrase is the truth that in the attempt to please others, you are not truly living. Moments and years pass by and you haven't truly lived. Desperately trying and truly living are very different. The first takes energy and the gives it.
The choice must be yours
One of my favorite humans, Parker Palmer is quoted by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans in their book, Designing Your Life, where Palmer describes his own journey to authenticity. "He said that at one point he suddenly realized he was doing a noble job of living someone else's life. Parker was emulating his great heroes - Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi - both great social justice leaders of the 1950's and '60's. He realized that he could be inspired by people like King and Ghandi, but that didn't mean he had to walk their same path. He ended up redesigning his life in a way that was less about imitation and more about authenticity."
The authentic you is not me. The authentic you is not my idea of who you are, or who you think you are supposed to be, or what you think you are supposed to be like. The authentic you - is you! And you, my darlings, are gorgeous, and fabulous, and full of imperfections. And in this epic journey of life, you will make mistakes. Let them be fully yours. You will also experience incredible victories. Let them be fully yours.
When you step out to face that creature -
That creature. The Jabberwock. I've done about 10 minutes of intense googling and read (according to Wikipedia), that the definition of Jabberwock comes from "The Anglo-Saxon word 'wocer' or 'wocor' which signifies 'offspring' or 'fruit'. Taking 'jabber' in its ordinary acceptation of 'excited and voluble discussion', this would give the meaning of 'the result of much excited and voluble discussion'..."
This sounds to me a lot like opinions. As in, everyone has lots of them.
You will face these opinions. All. The. Time. And if you are not resolute, opinions will tempt you to stray from your authentic self.
You will step out alone.
Yes. This is the truth. You will step out alone. You will have to do it - the growing up thing - and there's parts of it that are really, really hard. And you will have to do it all on your own.
But you will never be alone.
When Alice goes out to face the Jabberwock, she rides out with the White Queen, the Mad Hatter, and an entire army of comrades. They're all out there on the battlefield - fighting off enemies. That's a lot like real life. We're all fighting our personal battles, growing up a little each day and fighting to regain or remain in our authenticity despite the opinions that everyone has of us - all together on one great big battlefield of this glorious life we share.
So, how do you do it?
You are not perfect - accept it. You are amazing - embrace it.
You were born for this great destiny and calling of womanhood. I believe in you.
Your Mad Hatter Mother who loves you more than you will ever know,