Who Am I?
I recently came across a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that says, "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."
So, I started thinking about the depth of this quote. How true it is. How complex of a statement it is. And how it applies to so many aspects of our lives. How it relates to one's own dreams. How it relates to the many mistakes I have made. How I am such a people please-er and it's hard for me to say no. Staying true to oneself is DIFFICULT. You have parents, siblings, friends, society and even strangers influencing your decisions, values, interests, skills and knowledge that make you who you are. So, how do you stay true to yourself?
The longer I thought about it...the more it kind of freaked me out. Who am I? Don't worry...this isn't going to get real deep. You see, you grow up with so many expectations of what life is supposed to be like. For me...I thought I was supposed to...go to college, met a boy, get married, have kids, be a stay at home mom, go to church, raise a family and live happily ever after.
Let's just say...I went to college, met a boy...met a lot of boys, actually. Didn't get married (thank God). Don't have kids. Which prevents me from being that stay at home mom I thought I would be. I do go to church and I am living happily. But I spent so many years thinking in my head that this cookie cutter life is what I was supposed to do. Is what I wanted? Maybe at one time or another it was what I wanted. Maybe it's just what I saw around me growing up and formed my own expectations of that being how life should be. I don't really know. All I know is that I spent years chasing this life in my early twenties, which just lead to the demise of several relationships and well, pretty much myself.
I'm not sure why everyone wants to change you..make you into something you aren't. Maybe it's out of fear. Maybe it's out of their own insecurities. Maybe they try and change you to be something they need you to be. I don't really know. I know I've been guilty for all these reasons at one point or another with one person or another, whether is was a friend, a family member or a boyfriend. On the flip side, I've had friends, family and boyfriends try and change me into something I'm not.
A few things that people seem to want to change...
1. People want 30-something year old women to be married...especially in the south! It's not that I'm against marriage. Ok, well, maybe I'm not sold completely on the idea for me. But maybe it's just I haven't met the right person. Who knows. But don't you worry your pretty little heart. I'm great. I'm happy. Please don't feel sorry for me. Really. I once had a complete stranger tell me she was going to pray for me to find a husband. I kindly told her that as long as she was going to intercede on my behalf, there were actually other things I'd rather her pray for...a husband hadn't made it to the top ten list yet. She didn't find it funny.
2. People want you to want children. Again. I'm not against having children. I think it's an absolutely fabulous idea for so many people. I am beyond grateful that my grandmothers, mother, sister and sister-n-law wanted children. I love my five nephews more than anything on earth. I would do anything for them. And, I do hope to adopt a child one day, God willing. But nothing about me has that desire to be pregnant. I don't know why this baffles people. It's something I pray about, not for. If it's meant to be...it will be.
3. Ok..so if you are single with no kids...then you must be focused on your career, right? Wrong. I'm not driven by money or prestige. I am not willing to sacrifice a lot of things that bring me joy to be "successful" in a career. It's just not where my focus in life is. People's idea of success is different...and that's okay. I grew up with a stay at home mom and a workaholic Dad. My older brother is like my Dad in the respect his work ethic is strong and a great provider for his family. He makes a lot of sacrifices for his family. My little sister is a stay at home mom to two sweet boys and they are lucky to have her in such a role! Me...middle child...I'm stuck somewhere in the middle. And that's how I like it. I have ME to take care of. I don't have to make sacrifices for a family. Maybe I will someday. Maybe I won't. But let me tell ya...taking care of "this girl" is a full time job in itself. One day at a time...it's working out pretty well!
Everyone's dreams are different. Sometimes my dreams change. But that just means that I've changed. Sometimes they are big and sometimes they are small. Heck...I didn't really any have any dreams a year ago. Just being sober was a dream. And today...I'm living that dream. I am sure my dreams today are different from what my dreams will be in 5, 10 or 15 years...And I'm okay with that. I'm a work in progress. Getting sober was my first step in the right direction of finding out who I really am. The past year has a been a hard and fascinating journey. I pray. I pray a lot. And this is new thing for me, but I need guidance and I know that. And not the guidance you get from friends or family...guidance from God. I mean, He's the only one who really knows why I was put on this earth.
I 've made mistakes. I've made a lot of mistakes. I will continue to make mistakes. And I'm okay with that too. These "mistakes" are what make me who I am. All of these mistakes have allowed me to get to places I've been...and do the things I've done...good and bad in my life. I've lived in Charleston, Boston and San Francisco. I interned for Senator Kennedy...twice. I've loved. I've lost. I backpacked through Italy. I've the seen the world's largest Buddha in China. I've hiked to the top of Mt. Kathadin. I've been canyoneering in Utah. I've skied the slopes in Tahoe. All of these great things are a result directly or indirectly from some mistakes I've made.
"Maybe mistakes are what make our fate... without them what would shape our lives? Maybe if we had never veered off course we wouldn't fall in love, have babies, or be who we are. After all, things change, so do cities, people come into your life and they go. But it's comforting to know that the ones you love are always in your heart... and if you're very lucky, a plane ride away." Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and The City
I don't need to be married, or get pregnant, or be a stay at home mom, or career focused to be happy. Maybe I'll do all of these one day...maybe I'll do none. I don't know. One thing I do know is that life never turns out like you think. Well...at least my life hasn't. I was recently sitting in an AA meeting where a man said, "I wouldn't have designed this life for me but it works fine. Real fine." And I thought that was just perfect. I didn't grow up dreaming to be an alcoholic, but you know what...I'm grateful to be an alcoholic. It's not what I would have designed for me...but it's fine...real fine.