It was hard at first because God didn't seem to be bothered at all that I was attracted to guys who would have been completely off-limits before. It's been hard since figuring out what I really want. The more I find myself, the easier that part gets. God seems to be more aware of what I really want than I do sometimes, and patiently waits for me to figure it out.
It's hard understanding myself even after I think I understand my new culture, which makes it hard to communicate in ways that make sense to others. I can be very outspoken one minute (current influences), and then shut down and genuinely *need* to be asked what I am thinking the next (influences from the past--women must wait to be asked). Of course that may be my personality showing too. ENFPs are known to be an enigma.
It's hard understanding others. If a Mennonite guy asks a Mennonite girl, "May I learn to know you?", it's usually in the context of asking to be in a relationship. There's casual dates and there's being in a relationship. That's it. I am very aware it's not like that where I'm at now, but hearts learn slower than heads do.
It's hard managing the freedom to show interest in a non-dominating way. Just like a guy has to learn what "no" means, so does a girl. Then too, one minute I may be bold as a lion, the next, completely unsure what do next. Then there's the fear I'm playing with a guy's heart if I show interest or friendship to more than one at once, but in my heart I know I will make healthier decisions if I don't move to exclusivity too quickly.
Finally, there's the struggle to know what it is about me that can be said to any man I know, to help make it easier for the right kind of men to notice me. If I publish this...you'll know part of what I decided about that.
I know I would make a wonderful wife, but I'm starting to realize just how daunting the world of dating looks to me, and that I have often avoided it without realizing what I was doing. Of course, if I am actually not interested, I make that as clear as necessary. It's when I really am open that I really mess it up--a lot of times because I'm too embarrassed to admit I don't understand what's going on, or because I'm too scared to properly finish a conversation that just started. If a man really wants to have that conversation with me, he's going to have to push in. I am quite capable of stopping him if I don't want to have it--but probably I just need help.
I know I could continue, as I did earlier in my journey, to put a lot of energy into learning how to date or attract a guy. I admit I have things to do with my time that seem more important. Besides, no one has written a dating guide specifically for people like me yet. If they're really targeting my demographic, they need to value virginity, and they need to teach friendship too. As well as how to get along with male coworkers. The kind of male coworkers that would have treated the former me with kid gloves--for good reason.
Don't kid yourself. When a woman starts wearing pants, when she leaves her Mennonite upbringing, she's going to need social skills she hasn't even thought about yet. At least, I do. Mostly the ability to express in an understandable, reasonably polite way that I don't share your values, so please bug off. My clothes did the communicating about how different I was before. Actually the outer change does signify that I am more like most people than I used to be.
If you are a young woman contemplating leaving, expect to take some time for transition. More than you currently think is necessary. The bigger the jump you are making the more seriously you need to take this. Expect attraction and attachment to hit you similar to the way it would be if you were traveling to another country and seeing exciting new sights and sounds every day. Know it will be worth the wait to allow yourself to grow into your new self before making such an important choice.
Here's a secret. Not even ex-Mennonite guys may be your match.
They may be offended if you show too much interest or leadership. They may not really understand the depth of the transformation required of you. They may have left earlier or easier than you and observe you are still adjusting and talking a lot about where you came from and thus be uninterested in spite of other attractive things about you.
Guess what? In spite of all this, it's still worth it. At least, for me it has been.
The whole wide world, which I really had no interest in at all, has opened up to me. As they say, the world is my oyster.
It takes time to learn how to manage so much more freedom, but it is such a rewarding journey. I am looking forward to the day where instead of saying how lucky I am I didn't get married before I had a chance to make this life-altering choice, I can say how lucky I am to have waited for the right man. Right now, it's humbling. I don't like that I sound lonely at times and far from family, or that sometimes I actually really am.
And in this context, I can't possibly be more grateful for a place of my own where I can find myself. As I decorate home, remove distracting clutter, and do projects I love, my understanding of the new me grows in ways that are hard to quantify. I knew, in my heart of hearts, to become more ready to find love, having my own home was an absolute must as well as just simply the desire of my heart. I am so grateful for God's provision.