Waiting On Me
By: Mallory Ellington
To be quite honest I waited to write this piece. I waited to think about it. Some might say I procrastinated. Which is fair, because in waiting to write I did procrastinate. I could say that it was because I was busy wrapping up my first year of teaching. I could say that it was because I started two online classes. I could say I waited so long to write this because quite frankly, I’m exhausted. The weight of the last couple of months has caught up to me and it has been incredibly difficult.
But I also wasn’t sure what I had waited for in my life. I thought I might talk about how I am in that “waiting” stage before marriage. Discussing all I have accomplished in my singleness. But it didn’t feel right and it didn’t sit well. Or maybe I could have talked about how I am waiting to be a mom. I could have even spoken about waiting to figure out what I want to do with my life. But again, none of it felt like what I needed to say. It all felt forced. And honestly, it all felt fake. Because I am not waiting on those things. If/when they happen, they happen. I am not sitting with baited breath for my life to fall into place. I have worked incredibly hard to be the woman I am, in the place I am. Initially waiting does not seem to define my life. But then it hit me.
What I always find myself waiting on is permission to be myself. And if I’m being honest, that was a painful realization to have.
So I grabbed an old favorite mug, one that has been there for a lot of life. I made some tea. I played one of my favorite songs. And I sat with that pain and discomfort. I wanted to lean into this moment, because I knew there was something to be learned and something to be gained from it.
A few years ago I decided my word of the year would be vulnerability. I wanted to be more open and honest with the people in my life. And deep down I know I wanted to be honest with myself. I feel like so much of my life was a front, trying to fit whatever mold I was meant to fit into. For years I tried to be the perfect pastor’s daughter. And when that role came crashing down I didn’t know where to go. Who was Mallory if she wasn’t someone simply going through the motions?
Well, Mallory can be someone without going through the motions. It just took her a while to realize it. If you are at all familiar with the enneagram there is one type that is called the “peacemaker”, the 9. For me this means that I like to keep peace and make peace. Conflict is just one big nope from me. I will even hide my own feelings and desires in order to keep peace. While this can sometimes come in handy, it can also be unhealthy. I allowed other’s peace to become my identity. I just went with the flow, never fully being myself because it was easier to not be. I was scared to be fully myself. And looking back I think I was just waiting (and desperately hoping) for someone to give me permission to just be me.
But I was the only person who could give myself that permission. The only person I was waiting on to speak up was me. All this time and what I was waiting on was me.
I was waiting on some kind of miracle, but the miracle was within me the whole time. The choice to stand up and decide to find out who I really am all came back to me. This journey led me to change my major in college. To research things most people find odd (but very politely smile about). It fueled my decision to move 12 hours away to a summer camp. Then the journey took me to seminary, with no real plan for what was to follow. And now I find myself finishing up my first year of teaching a subject I have almost no background in. All because I gave myself permission to be myself. Even when it is hard, even when it is messy, even when it is lonely. I do not have to wait to be me. I get to be me every day.
Looking back, I could have never predicted that I would be where I am today and I kind of love that. My life is filled with challenges but also incredible joy. And if I was still waiting on someone to give me permission to be me I would have missed this. I would have missed the friendships, the books read, the heart aches, and the nights filled with laughter. In my waiting to be myself I would have missed who I was meant to be. Now I want to work with young women in order to help them find their own voice and I know this stems from my own inability to find my voice for so long.
So if you’re looking for permission to be yourself- I can’t give it to you. I can tell you all day long that you should be free to be you, but you have to make that decision all on your own. What I do know is that you are worthy of love and being loved. Which means you deserve to be fully known, to be fully yourself and still be fully loved. And if you’re waiting on a sign to be you, maybe, just maybe, this is it.