Can you still be proud of me, Betty Friedan?

(I apologize for the long delay in writing. Hopefully, this entry can explain why my blog has been so paltry for the past few weeks.)

A few months ago my roommate Charlee said to me: "I'm so glad I live with such a liberal feminist."

I was a bit baffled. Me? A liberal feminist? Sure, I am a champion of women's rights and education. (I am a woman, after all.) And sure, I am an avid supporter of women's equality. (Shouldn't we all be?) But I wasn't some raving feminist lunatic who believed all men should be quarantined and shipped out to Neptune. I wasn't that kind of a feminist.

In the end, I took Charlee's statement as a compliment. I am a feminist. I love being a woman and I abhor the unequal treatment of my sex. I believe women should be pushed to go to college, to attend graduate school, and to pursue a career. I believe a woman is just as capable as a man to become a successful surgeon or to lead a Fortune 500 company. And yes, I wholeheartedly support Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House. I'm a feminist and I'm proud of it!

As a member of a conservative (and some would say patriarchal) church, I have reveled in my feminist streak. I cheer for Mormon women who are able to balance a career and motherhood. I do a jig for female BYU students who apply to graduate school. I am a card-carrying member of the Relief Society and I think more of its members should speak during General Conference. Perhaps some would label me as a black sheep, but I embrace my feminism and my Mormonism.

For the past few years, I have tried to prove to the world that I can be a feminist and a Mormon. I wanted to show people that my future did not revolve around a kitchen and a minivan. Rather, my dreams included getting a PhD and teaching at a liberal-arts college. In my free time, I would travel the world and write best-selling novels. And so, to kick off my celebration of feminism, I planned to move to Europe for a year and get my MA from the London School of Economics.

And then I met a boy. Classic story. We started dating and the question swirled in my mind, "What if I deferred for a year?" At first, I panicked. Deferment wasn't an option. I had planned on grad school in England for a year and a half. I had already signed up for classes and paid my deposit for a flat. This would be a great opportunity for me---how could I give it up for a boy?

I also became concerned about what other people would think: my best friends from high school, my PhD-toting co-workers, my relatives, my parents. They would all look down on me for sure.

I fretted for a week, bouncing back and forth between going to London and staying home. Justin refrained from swaying my opinion either way. "This is your decision," he told me, "You have to make it for yourself and not for anyone else."

I took his advice to heart. What did I really want? Both choices were good ones, but which one did I want more? In the end, I chose to defer. I knew if I went to London, I would always look back and wonder "What if?" I didn't want such a regret. With this idea in mind, the decision came easily.

Of course, I still have bumps in the road---like finding a new job---but I am perfectly content with my deferment. Granted, I will miss eating Hobnobs (wonderful British cookies) and I will miss out on the chance to see my friend Lindsey and her new baby, but I know I've made the right decision for myself.

Slowly, I have realized that my choice to defer graduate school is an exercise of feminism in its own right. I was not pressured by my boyfriend or my parents to make this choice. Quite the opposite. I was the only person who made this decision and I am the only person who controls the outcome of my life. Ironically, my choice to defer has helped me to realize that I don't have to travel across the world to prove my feminism to others. I could do it right here at home.

I am not deferring grad school for a boy. I am doing it for me.

***If you are wondering, I am not engaged. Just to be clear. :o)