Participate in Your Life: Meet Sharylann Smith

For the first in the Participate In Your Life Series, let me introduce you to Sharylann. She is a 33 years old college graduate, family breadwinner and giggler extraordinaire. Growing up with a father in the Navy, she moved all around the US and Scotland. Additionally she she spent 18 months on an LDS service mission in Brazil and loves the Portuguese language and people. Five years ago, she married G, the man of her dreams.

Early on they felt they wanted to start a family – however, despite positive assurances, she and G have miscarried multiple times and they are still waiting to welcome a child into their lives. While life is full and beautiful, this process of wanting a family and not being able to create one has been a roller coaster ride of emotions and self-discovery for Sharylann and her husband. This is her story of how she learned to take control of her life and happiness no matter what the current circumstances might be.

She writes:

“When I think about taking control of my life I think about not letting anyone but myself control what I think or do. I’ve had lots of moments over the last few years where I’ve let others control what I did or said instead of me controlling what happened. But I started wondering what is the point of letting others have control of what I think or do?
For me, over the years I have had the same pattern of responses from people…when I was single, people would tell me that if I just lost some weight, I would date. They told me that I would get married sooner if I lost weight. And then when I did get married, and tried for kids, they told me that if I lost weight I would stop miscarrying.
Well, after 5 miscarriages, I felt defeated by what my doctors and others were telling me. I was depressed and seeing a therapist. What was in my control? My therapist and I talked a lot about what ifs. What if I don’t ever lose weight? What if I never have kids? Can I still be happy? Or do I let others and my weight dictate my happiness and what I can or can’t do? I got sick of it. I was tired of living a depressed life and not trying some of the things I always wanted to because I was afraid.
I decided to change what I could.
A friend and I started making cakes. I enjoyed this and it helped some and made me a little happier. I started to believe in my abilities again. In November 2013, I made a spur of the moment decision to do something I had always been interested in doing. I wanted to dance. I loved dancing. I’m not great at it but I love it. When I watch dance shows they make me cry because it’s beautiful but also because of the opportunities I didn’t allow myself to have when I was younger.
I signed up for a ballet class and a tap dance class at the local university. I found out I was going to have to wear a leotard and tights in ballet and I was mortified. How was I going to do this? Tap would be a little easier, at least there was no required outfit. On top of that, I was in classes with kids 10-15 years younger than me and half the size of me. I looked ridiculous. it didn’t matter though. I was in this for me. I wasn’t in it for anyone else. I donned my leotard and tights for the first time. I felt really self conscience but I was there and doing my best. I put on my tap shoes. I tried to do the dances. I was slow but eventually did okay. I am NOT perfect at dancing, that’s for sure. I learned a lot though.

People that knew I was taking dance classes were supportive. My husband encouraged me and wanted to see me succeed. I had a couple of people tell me how proud they were of me and that I was an example to them. I didn’t feel like I was being an example, I just felt like I was trying to do something that I had always wanted to do. 

I am so glad that I took the opportunity to take these dance classes. I believe they helped get me to the position that I’m in now. I took a chance for the job that I may not have tried to get in the past because of failures. but I took the chance anyway and I got the job. I think these classes helped me to become more confident in myself.

I did something I was afraid to do. Am I still afraid? of course. I will probably always be afraid to try something new. But now, maybe I will have a little more courage to try new things.

What’s next for me? I’d like to make my cake business with my friend work out. I’d like to prove to myself once and for all that I can get in shape and that I can stay in shape. If having biological children is not in our future, I’d like to face my fears with that and move on in creating our family with my husband in whatever way that looks like. 

More than anything I want to not be afraid to pursue goals and new skills. When I get the time again, I would like to take some more dance classes. I would like to go to culinary school, or become an aerobics instructor, or get a master’s degree.
Who knows what I will decide to do next. I am finally excited about life again. I’m excited about the possibilities that life brings. I’m excited to see what adventure I will come up with next. Here’s to many more!

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