|The little yellow kitchen in my little yellow house, 2010.|
I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of the thoughts and feelings attached to that. Some of them, I've pushed down pretty far, which is alright for the time being, because I cannot handle them right now.
I say that because the past few months have been marked by the deepest depression I've yet endured. I will not say that my entire time at BYU has been rough, but I will confess that much of my time at college has been really hard. There are lots of reasons for this, but one of the biggest ones is that I often didn't know what exactly I wanted to become. Choosing a major and actually applying myself to learning often felt like a battle I could never win.
Finally, I found the editing minor, which combines many things I love. Even with that though, I still often find myself disliking the field. I do not succumb to these feelings though because I know God has given me gifts in this area and that I enjoy it most of the time. This is good enough for me, and I trust that He will open up opportunities to make good use of me as an editor and as a writer. A few weeks ago, someone challenged me, asking "Is editing really a good thing for you?" In essence, I replied firmly, "We are not opening up that can of doubt and fear again. I have made a choice, and I will make it good."
I often think of this talk from Elder Nelson about choosing an educational path and a career. He said:
A doctor’s ultimate destination is not in the hospital. For a lawyer, it is not in the courtroom. For a jet pilot, it is not in the cockpit of a Boeing 747. Each person’s chosen occupation is only a means to an end; it is not an end in itself. The end for which each of you should strive is to be the person that you can become—the person who God wants you to be. The day will come when your professional career will end. The career that you will have labored so hard to achieve—the work that will have supported you and your family—will one day be behind you. Then you will have learned this great lesson: much more important than what you do for a living is what kind of person you become. When you leave this frail existence, what you have become will matter most. Attributes such as “faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, [and] diligence” (D&C 4:6) will all be weighed in the Lord’s balance.
I wish I could say that during my time at BYU I have developed those attributes splendidly. I haven't, but I have made some good progress.
Even now, when faced with decisions about jobs and internships, I think I still don't know exactly what I want to be. The question I've been wrestling with all this time is still there, still bothering me.
But out of the depression I've been in lately, I've found a better question to ask: what kind of person do I want to be for my children? In many ways, I ask this in the same spirit that I ask God who He wants me to become. That's probably the more important question to ask, but I've found that phrasing it in terms of my children helps make it a bit more tangible.
My answer to this question is primarily that I want to be a woman of faith. I want to be a mother who knows. Those are my primary goals.
I also enjoy reflecting on the fun parts too. My mom likes to remind me that I will be a good mother someday because I am creative. I believe this is something I can use to make the world my children live in good and bright.
Dorothy Lee, a wonderful anthropologist who writes many good things about motherhood, says, "Motherhood is not a thing in itself, it is I who am a mother and I have to be myself first." She doesn't mean this comment in the sense that we have to go out and find ourselves in some grand external sphere to be mothers. Rather, her point is that what our children want is us. They want to know us as whole people with quirks and flaws and preferences.
I find that lovely. It also makes me want to be my best self—the one who writes good things, does not fear, and is fun. I can imagine that the day-to-day stresses of motherhood might threaten to dampen that spirit within us, but it certainly does not need to. In fact, those daily activities of eating, cleaning, sleeping, working, worshiping, and playing are exactly where our true selves lie. Knowing this makes me worry a lot less about what my degree says I am.