I’ll preface this by saying that I know that I’m young, that there’s so much that I don’t know. Many of my lines are bound to be flawed, my theories wrong. I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to say, yet, but I can’t make sense of it until I write it down anyway, and you might as well watch me bumble through it.

My goal here is not to make you feel guilty, definitely not to bring you down. But if you do feel guilty, there might be something to it. And if you don’t, well, I’m quite happy for you. The things I’m about to write about are things that I am typically quite bad at; I don’t pretend to practice with precision the ideals I’ll describe. I only wish I could. And I’m sure that I harp on these things because I’m bad at them. But thinking of such things might be of use to you as well, so bear with me.

I want to talk about memes. My world is littered with memes. Some of them light up my life, some not so much. But something that I think is important is actually considering what it is that you’re reading before you nod your head in agreement and smile. Something that I say all the time (and mean it) is that not everything that feels good is good. There are things out there that are inspiring. And simultaneously dead wrong. The time it takes to read a meme is short, to share it shorter, and I often wonder if the people who shared them considered what they actually mean. Or I hope they didn’t.

For ladies, I’m talking about all those memes out there that tell you to be selfish and to be proud of it. That your life is yours and only yours, that you are to be treated as the perfect woman that you are, that you are perfect just the way you are. That all those boys who treated you badly were the problem, that you deserve a man who is, by the definition of the memes, perfect as well. (He doesn’t exist, by the way.) And those memes make you feel powerful inside, confident, like you’re not alone, that other women struggle with these same things.

But if it’s a lie, is that really where you want your strength to come from? Because you should not be selfish. You should not be proud of it when you are. Your life is not yours. You are not to focus on how you are treated, but how you treat others. You are not perfect. Those imperfect boys were the problem, and surely so were you (how do I know that? because you are not a saint.) I will not tell you what you deserve, because I think it presumptuous. But I can tell you with confidence that I deserve no man, that if God sees fit to help a man see something in me that he wants to get to know until death parts us, I will be happy in the extraordinariness of it. Because it’s hard to love somebody when you do it all the way. And if a man picks me, I will certainly not say to him, “Certainly, I deserved you all along.” Because I certainly did not.

Why, WHY am I so mean?

I am about to be all over the map, forgive me.

It’s not because I want you to feel worthless. It’s because I want you to find worth outside of yourself. It’s the fact that I am created by God that makes me real and unique, that I have been saved by grace that God looks at me and doesn’t see my sin. What have I to be proud of? I have no beauty without God, no talent without Him, no tendency towards goodness. But I can be proud of His power, of His power in me, that He has real plans for me.

And those plans are, without a doubt, not for me to be selfish, not to glorify my womanhood at the expense of men, to pretend that the problem between the sexes is ever one-sided. Bitterness always reflects more on the embittered than on the cause. I hate that women feel like they have to have attitude in order to be confident, that this sultry sarcasm is a badge to be worn, a solution to insecurity.

Let me remind you! I’ve been there. I revisit the source. But it’s so wrong.

Being a woman shouldn’t be about taking all those virtues in days gone by like self-sacrifice and meekness and pretend that they were the problem, that we have to perform a complete 180. Maybe we should instead strive towards all of the qualities that are truthfully virtuous. And not just the ones that our personality allows us to have a tendency towards.

Be everything? To everyone? Well, no. And, yeah. The two options aren’t either run yourself into the ground, spreading yourself so thin that you aren’t actually helping, or focusing on your own dreams as if they were the only ones. There is space in between. And admitting you aren’t perfect and trying to always be better doesn’t have to be a depressing prospect. If you do find yourself perfect, I can tell you that you fool no one, least of all yourself, and you do yourself no favors. Because when you’re alone and you see yourself for who you are, it hurts much worse when your flaws suddenly come as a surprise.

And please, let’s not manipulate people. Men, women, anybody. It’s easier to describe what I mean in reference to men, but I mean everybody. Playing games with people in relationships is ridiculous. Doing things to make someone jealous is deceitful and the results won’t last. If you’re taking the time to plan it, and he won’t know that you planned it, you probably shouldn’t do it. Don’t give the silent treatment. Don’t talk him down to your girlfriends. They can’t fix him, I can assure you. So all you’ve accomplished is bringing hatred into the heart of one person concerning another person whom they might not know, or at least don’t know as well as they might think they do from your stories.

And note: those struggles you face in finding a “good man” men also face in finding a “good woman.”

Let’s just never find our confidence via the debasing of another individual or group. It’s stupid. It really is. And let’s not glorify things like selfishness in the name of confidence and independence or tactlessness in the name of boldness. Sometimes we need to speak up. And sometimes we should be quiet. Submitting to our husbands should still be a thing. Raising our kids should still be seen as one of the greatest things we could ever do. When I do have children, I will be there. I will be there. Because they will need me. They were meant to need me, and I was meant to give myself to them. Yes! Yes, at the expense of myself and my career and my dreams. Because while they’re under my wing, they become my career, my dream.

Don’t let memes and fancy words and sayings redefine what being a good woman is to you. Society doesn’t know better than God. And He has already described her:

“A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long. She shops around for the best yarns and cottons [guys, she gets good deals, knows the value of a dolla’], and enjoys knitting and sewing. She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises [so much here, so much]. She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day. She looks over a field and buys it [business savvy!], then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden. First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking. She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor. She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks [yeah]. Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers. She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops. Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile. When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive. Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise: “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!” Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the fear of God. Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!” Proverbs 31:10-31

It’s not outdated. You can imagine very “realistic” ways in which today’s woman can attempt this. Not easily, maybe, but very possible. And I only say realistic because I know some are thinking that it’s not. And I’ll admit, here I am pursuing a master’s degree, looking much like a “career woman.” But let me tell you, I will work in this world, and happily, until I have kids. Then they’ll get all I’ve got. Even if it means living in the poorest of conditions. Because I believe in it. And they are worth it.