Monday, March 28, 2011

defining times

"I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life.  
The problem is that I can't find anybody who can tell me what they want."
-Mark Twain

What do I want?
I'm nearly certain the answer to that question changes every day.

And as someone who's only ever seen their world in black & white,
you can imagine why I'm puzzled by the brilliance of a little rainbow on my horizon.

can't you? 

Let me explain...
my black & white world was the world where I always knew the outcome.
It was the world where every Point A had a Point B,
where 1 & 2 always made 3,
where I had plan for every single thing.

Most people in this world knew me as Chelsey Brianne White.
communications major.
broadcast journalism bound.
stellar student.
aspiring reporter.
social butterfly.
driven by ambition and dead set on tackling any and every opportunity...
be it study abroad, NY internships, spontaneous weekend getaways, season passes for snowboarding, speeding to SLC to score last minute tickets to Conference, camping out like a true blue Cougar for tickets to the big game, playing the role of mastermind behind hilarious pranks and harmless acts of vandalism, 80's dancing downtown, midnight hiking, movie-going, soccer playing, awe-inspiring parallel parking, power tumbling, party planning, you name it!

I had BIG plans,
all the time,
and felt confident in just how well I had my future all spelled out.
Because be it a career path, college major map, application process, or social circle, 
I knew just what route I needed to navigate to make it all happen.

Welcome to my black & white world
where life seemed so...

But on March 27, 2009, 
I met a boy.
A boy who helped me discover the complexity of color.

He came in the midst of a stormy season,
and found me feeling just a little lost. 
I'd tried to take on too much
and worked myself silly trying to navigate the whole alphabet.
Wise people move from Point A to Point B.
I tried to find my way from Point A to Point Z, 
making certain I hit every letter in between.

He proved to be a much-needed distraction.
so much so that the forecast predicting a semester's worth of 
spring showers now indicated a perpetually 
sunny disposition with the possibility of the 
sweetest summer romance.

And what do you know?
The weather-girl got it right!

And as that summer romance transcended the seasons,
and its brightly beaming sun broke through every cloud of grey,
(you can read all about those little clouds of hesitation here)
I realized I wouldn't be weathering any of life's storms alone ever again.

And that's when I spotted it.
Life's little rainbow.
Ready and waiting for me to incorporate its vivid and vibrant colors into my simple black & white world.

With Parker in my life, I soon realized all I really knew anymore was that I needed to be with him...
that the path that led to a future with him was the only one that guaranteed me lasting happiness.

That was the only clear and concise answer reminiscent of those from my black & white world.
And I know now just as well as I did then 
that it was the only one that mattered.

But even still.
That was the only clear and concise answer I had.
Because in that same moment,
all I'd previously considered essential to achieving success didn't really apply anymore.
Outside of being a wife,
my near future seemed absolutely unclear.

And no matter how incredibly happy I am at this moment,
no matter much I love my husband, my marriage, and the life I feel so lucky to be living with him,
I can't pretend for a second that leaving my black & white world hasn't been an adjustment.
A BIG adjustment.

In my new rainbow world, I can play with any color I please.
 I can paint my future red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, and every color in between.
I have options...and if you want my honest opinion, I think I have too many.

On any given day I'm convinced I can be one of the following:
 the admirably ambitious grad student
the insightful and inquisitive LSAT prep pupil
the communications professional with all the promise of a great career
the Wells Fargo golden child racing up the ranks
the fun-loving fitness instructor with a rockin' bod
the spiritual giant who's dedicated her life to service and knows the scriptures inside and out
the peerless wife with flawless fashion, incomparable culinary skill, and the intuition and skill of this generation's best writers, artists, and interior designers.

I think that's all 7.


I can paint my world whatever color I'd like.
But these days, I can't seemed to decide what color me is best for us.

And so I settle.
And in doing so resign myself to living life in a stagnant state so far below my full potential.

People here know me as Mrs. Parker DeMille.
the girl on the arm of the bright-eyed, blonde, dental school hopeful.
the blissfully happy newlywed learning how to play wife.
the all-too-open chatterbox who's about as sharp as a butter knife. 
and that's about it.

This is a problem.

I'm no longer the girl Parker chose to marry.
I'm just the girl existing by his side.
As the go-getter he fell in love with begins living life by the mantra "jist get 'er done."

Now please understand,
I am absolutely proud and honored that Parker picked me to be his bride.
That is not the problem now and it never, ever, will be.
Marriage is wonderful and I am convinced that
because I'm a wife
I can do 
anything and everything 
and so much more 
than I'd ever dreamed of doing in my black & white life
and have exponentially more fun doing it!  

so no.
the wifing's not the problem.
What is a problem though is how little I've done to define myself as a new wife.
That, to me, is just plain sad.
and absolutely unfair to me and to Parker.

As December came to a close, I came to the realization that I no longer had the crutch of the Cougar image.
I couldn't define myself as a college student any longer.
But instead of kicking it into high gear and having the courage to take a risk,
work toward one of the above options,
and then brave the uncertainty of where that path might lead,
I played it safe.

And now I am a 21-year-old with all the regrets of a lonely baby-boomer living off social security.

hooray for buts!
I am lucky enough that I've only lived 3 months of my life this way
and that I have
give or take
another 3900 months to fix it.

As much as I'd love to perfectly be all of the above, I know all too well that I won't be.
And that's good for me.
It was the fear of failing to attain perfection that kept me from even trying for it in the first place.

so no. 
I'm not shooting for perfection in any particular color scheme anymore.

my goal now is to be a rainbow.
to just be my best at a little bit of each.
and ultimately paint the perfect me.

my plan...
"do the best I can and be sure it is my very best."
wise words President Hinckley
 be "always improving."
thank you President Kimball
and "look beyond the daily routine of life to discover who I really am...discern through the Spirit my divinely given capacities...and prayerfully make worthy choices that will lead me to realize my full potential."
well said Elder Scott.

I'm shooting for "best all-around" this time
as Elder Maxwell said,
“The Lord loves each of us too much to merely let us go on being what we now are, for He knows what we have the possibility to become!”

Becoming brings happiness.  
I truly believe that we owe it to ourselves to make an extra effort to discover, in every detail possible, who we really are and who we can become.

And while I may not have the black & white world answer to exactly which color or combination of colors will help me paint the perfect me, I know someone who does, and I think it's time I asked Him.

don't you think?

And just so we're all clear, when the time's right, "being a mom" will be at the top of my list.
Now's just not the time.
For me at least.

And while we're on the subject,
knowing that that's on the horizon
-even if it's a few years off-
is another BIG reason I think I hesitated in making any big post-grad plans.
I couldn't articulate it any better than my broadcast buddy Karly.
I loved her thoughts here.
But mostly, I loved how perfectly she phrased the questions I run through every single time I try and make a decision about my future.

"In my opinion our generation of women  
will be the first to come out of college with the idea of 
first- get a career
second- have a family.
Even at one of the most conservative schools - 
careers are pushed, 
(at least in my field) 
girls who are immediately starting into a career are praised,
and girls who are immediately starting families....
good question.
I don't know one.
And if I am being completely honest my lack of job searching boils down to one question...
Before I start a family do I need to work/have a career for my own happiness?
This question becomes complex...
and I can talk about it for hours.
How long do you work?
And do you have a career or just work?
If you have a career is it even worth it to pay your dues when you are going to quit to have a family?
And if it isn't worth it than why even work in the first place?
It consumes my thoughts day in and day out.
But it all boils down to the same question.
Everyone has an opinion on this matter.
And I am currently trying to find my own."

Thanks Karly for simply stating what I can't ever seem to articulate to anyone outside our broadcast realm.
I hope I'm one of the first to know if and when you find the answer...


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