I grew up in church. Old school, you-know-what-time-it-starts-but-when-it-ends?-nobody-knows-the-day-or-the-hour church. I’m talking one-hour-of-praise-and-worship-thirty-minute-offering-message church. And in this instance the-prophetess-is-coming-through-and-you-will-be-missing-all-your-TV-shows-tonight church. Rev. Carol Cartwright. She’d come to our church once, maybe twice a year and everyone would line up and wait their turn to get a word. I was about 14 this particular time and when my turn came, she started with the usual “You have a voice and you will sing.” (yeah yeah yeah) but then she went off-script. “You don’t think you’re pretty.” She said “But the LORD wants me to tell you that when you grow up you will be a very pretty woman.”
I remember walking away and feeling two types of ways – one: embarrassed because now everyone knew that I knew that I wasn’t pretty. And two: a little bit closer to God because I remember thinking “He said I’ll be pretty when I grow up… even He doesn’t think I’m pretty right now.” And I respected that. At least He was honest.
So fast forward ten, fifteen, twenty years and I often find myself wondering “Have I grown up yet?” Because if I had, wouldn’t someone other than homeless dudes and skeevy old men (shout out to the office mailman) notice?
Am I still not pretty? And I know – we’re all fearfully and wonderfully made – yes. True. However, it would be nice to have that recognized by someone who is not a female friend or a boxcar hobo. So I find myself trying to figure out my range on the scale. From toothless vagrant to Henry Cavill – what can I realistically shoot for?
And after all this time… is it wrong that I feel like I should get something better than what’s realistic? Or have I really been waiting all this time for something average? I know it’s superficial, but I want something a little superficial. I want someone I would be happy to be seen in public with. Not just for me, but the women behind me. I am already the nightmare of every single 24-year-old, including long gone 24-year-old me, so I just want a Hollywood happy ending to soften the blow, for her. So she can know it was worth it in the end.
So I have these intense crises’ of confidence every time a subway tramp asks me for my number after asking me for change. Or the office mailman invites me to join him for a nap. I want to know what it is about me that make them think that “us” is in their realm of possibility. What kind of vibe am I giving off that says “Ancients, crazies and creeps, right this way”? Is it something that can be fixed or have I really peaked and is this as good as it gets? I don’t know. So I tell myself that having no viable options is better than wasting time with dead-end possibilities. But secretly… I fear I still haven’t grown up.
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