In the past I’ve been a bit of a freak show about General Conference. I get super hard core about it. I HAVE to watch every second. I spend a month beforehand re-reading the talks of the previous session. I spend a week beforehand cleaning and planning. I spend every single second on the couch, watching intently, live-tweeting, scribbling notes, and exclaiming frequently. And I loved it!
For weeks before this session, though, I just ~felt different. I have changed SO MUCH in the last six months. I’ve had a lot of new experiences and spiritual development. Those around me may not see it, because I’m still an obnoxious loudmouth idiot. But there have been a lot of changes that I can poignantly feel in myself. It’s the most obvious when I encounter scenarios where I don’t meet my own expectations for myself.
Like when I hear friends talking about a really cool thing or project – I expect myself to jump and start planning it immediately, but instead I’m more content to just say “That is cool! What a fun idea!” Or when I see something controversial or inflammatory and expect it to ruin my day, and instead I am able to move past it. And most recently when I thought about live tweeting General Conference.
We ended up going to St. George with my family, when I usually like to stay at home for General Conference. I usually get really unreasonably upset if Ryan doesn’t watch every second of it with me, but when he went golfing or slept through some of the sessions it really didn’t bother me. Generally, I feel a desire to take constant, frantic notes on everything everyone says during conference because I’m teacher AF. And live tweeting is a constant refresh, rapid typing, searching hashtags, and retweeting the best tweets I find. I LOVED it.
I don’t take back any of that. I have had so many amazing General Conference weekends where I did just that. The note-taking and live tweeting really did enhance the experience for me. I learned a lot, and remembered so much more from those sessions. I made great connections with people, and I heard from a lot of friends and family that they enjoyed my live tweeting – some even got on Twitter only for #ldsconf once they saw how cool it is! I just really love the way it is flooded with goodness and inspiration during conference. It’s a special thing.
So imagine my surprise when I just ~didn’t want to this time. I just had this ~feeling, which I obviously identify now as a prompting, that maybe this time I was just supposed to listen. There was nothing wrong with my note-taking and live tweeting. But for whatever reason, this time I just knew that it was going to be important for me to hear what *I* hear, not what other people heard. To just listen, not waiting for a super Pinterest-able quote or looking for a funny joke to make about a tie or haircut or celebrity lookalike. Again, those things are fun and awesome and memorable. I still tweeted a few, of course.
But I mostly just listened. And felt. I had my journal poised for notes, but I left it (and my phone) on the couch next to me. In the past I felt a need to at least plug in a few bullet points for each speaker, even if the talk wasn’t really grabbing me. (SUCH A TEACHER LMAO KILL ME.) Nope. I wrote things down that sounded like they were coming to me in bold font. I wrote things down that I felt and thought about – many that were totally unrelated to the actual talk. I wrote things down that I probably would not have even noticed had I not been sitting quietly, snuggling a sleeping baby, with no pressure.
I guess that’s the way I should put it. It wasn’t that I was self-righteously turning from Twitter like all the old people in our wards look down their noses at us millennials. It was that I was taking all the pressure off myself. Letting myself off the hook. Severing all the tethers of those fake expectations I made for myself. Removing that fake weight and frantic pace allowed me to feel sensations more acutely.
It was so interesting! I would hear a quote and think “That would kIlL iT on Twitter right now.” or “Can’t wait to see the cutesy floral doodle of that quote!!!” But I didn’t feel the need to scribble it down or tweet it. Then I found myself writing down random thoughts, and feeling so impacted by talks I never thought I’d like. When I would log in to Twitter during a break I would see that 20 people all tweeted or retweeted a thought from a talk, with commentary like “This is HUGE!” or “I LOVE this so much.” or “Just what I needed to hear!!!!” and I would think “Wait… what talk was that even from? I missed that entirely!”
Normally I’d have felt bad about that. C+, Danica, you missed something everyone else loved. But it was cool to think “Well – that was for them!! I’m so glad they loved that!” There were whole talks that were great, but I didn’t feel anything jump out specifically for me – and that’s ok. In the past I would have gotten fixated on a quote that I had missed but everyone else was sharing online, and maybe missed those cool moments where a non-pinterest-y quote clamped right around my heart.
This is all part of a switch I am trying to make – a switch to not caring what other people think. It’s a big strength of Ryan’s, and I know thats one of the reasons he is the one for me. I need that complementary strength in our marriage, because I tend to think about others a lot. Not necessarily with insecurity, but more trying to control how others perceive me and to always be putting out vibes and personality and connection that will make people love me.
It’s dumb, but it’s actually a big lesson in the Michelle Money makeup course I took. She asks you to think about how much of your day you spend worrying what other people think. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. How much do I hate people telling me what to do/think/be? But yet I wish I could do that for other people? They should be allowed to think whatever they want – and it’s none of my business. I need to worry about what *I* am doing and thinking and feeling. I need to worry less about sharing cool stuff on Twitter (even though it’s good and fun! nothing wrong with it!) and more about what *I* am getting from the Lord. It’s not my responsibility to share every quote with my friends. It’s not required to take notes on every speaker. It’s not really mandatory that I put the pressure of all these expectations on myself in order to BE someone.
I am someone. I am someone who can tweet if I want to. I am someone who can take notes if I want to. I am someone who can just sit on the couch and doze off with my cuddly newborn if I want to. I am someone who can cut back on my mental to-do list. And I am still someone. God told me that last weekend. But you probably didn’t hear it because I didn’t tweet it or turn it into a floral wreath calligraphy print. Maybe next time.