…just not tonight.
It goes in stages. At first, it hit me pretty hard. It didn’t crush me, but it did knock me down and force me to pull myself back up by my boot strings. And then there was a period of improved self-awareness. I was feeling great, and I wasn’t looking back. But like the cat, curiosity always gets the best of me and that’s both a good and a bad thing. Seeing what you don’t have is a part of life. However, it can also be painful in the early stages. Right now, it causes me to focus on the unrealistic conditionals of my preferred reality. In other words, I’m stuck on the what if’s. What if I wasn’t here? What if I were different? What if the level of my feelings were enough to impact his? As you can see, the further down the rabbit hole I travel, the more ridiculous these can get.
Why do I try to make it seem so close, when really it has always been so far? Why does the dream prove so much more appealing than reality? When will these feelings of mine ever go away? Or at least stop getting in the way of my forward progress? I don’t blame this fellow even a little bit, just like I don’t blame a mountain for being too high to climb. How I’m feeling is completely on me. I chose to try this, and I can choose to walk away.
As I quickly approach my 25th birthday, I blame myself above anyone else: for putting myself in this situation, for not trying hard enough (to climb every mountain, metaphorically), for having unrealistic expectations, for not taking more chances, and for feeling any amount of self-pity (stop it!). Usually I am firmly camped in the “alone, but not lonely” arena. However, at this moment, I’m stuck on “almost 25, unmarried, and childless.” I don’t even know if I want those things, but knowing that I don’t have them makes me wistful, so perhaps that means that I do.
Time for a positive non sequitur! I finished the orientation at my new job, and will now start working 1-3 shifts a week while I am in school. School doesn’t actually start for about 3 weeks, but I don’t want to overwork myself during one of the only breaks I’ve had so far in 2012. I’ve got a couple fun events in the upcoming weeks, including two parties, a concert, and a trip to see my favorite freshman hallmate (and sorority sister). So in order to enjoy those things and be the happy, positive person I am known to be, I’m going to take a break from mopey self-reflection and focus on all the great things about my life.
“I’ll be alright, once I find the other side of ‘someday.'” – Sara Bareilles
You decide what it contains / …how long it goes, but this remains: / the only rule is it begins, “Happy!” Happy, oh my friend.*
So, I begin the this entry with a song title and lyrics. I’m speaking metaphorically about my life through the words of others. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about where I am in my life right now. In the immediate moment, it’s a Saturday night and I’m sitting at home in front of my computer, which says a lot about me in and of itself. Expanding a little wider, I’m in the weekend between two weeks of orientation at my new job. (I’ll be providing direct care to patients at a local children’s hospital!) I’ve also just finished summer classes so I’m on an academic break until late August. On an even larger scale, I am on the precipice of an almost-three-year-long journey that I plan to complete with the objective of receiving my RN and BSN. And then, I’ll live happily ever after…or something like that.
Okay, but seriously…that’s what I’m doing, and that’s what I’m planning. And for the moment, that’s how I’m defining myself. But what does that say about me? It says that I’m willing to start all over again on a new career/academic path, even though I already have a BS in Geology. It says that I’m flexible enough to be able to take this time to dive back into school. It means that I was insecure about myself when I didn’t have a life plan, and this is helping to restore that security and sense of self. Why do I feel it’s necessary to define myself by what I’m doing with my career? That could be a whole separate entry. This time, though, I want to focus on timing.
Another big thing which people seem to use as part of a definition of themselves is age. Age represents or accounts for many things, including health, socialization, and stages of life. For instance, you might be shocked if you met a recent college graduate who was pregnant and found out that she was 15. You might be slightly less shocked if she turned out to be 35. But if she were 25, you’d probably think that sounds about right. That may be a somewhat convoluted example, but I’m trying to illustrate the point that there is a certain socially excepted timing of life events that correlates somewhat with age. And though many people don’t say it aloud, there are many expectations, stereotypes, and stigmas that are associated with ages and stages from childhood all the way to the twilight years.
Even as I find myself aware of these social expectations, I am just as guilty as the next person for bowing to them. And I put myself under the highest level of scrutiny. I justify so many things by saying, “It’s okay, I’m in my 20s. Now is the time to make mistakes and huge lifestyle changes.” While that is a great sentiment that I still fully support, it unwittingly implies that other ages in life are NOT the right time for mistakes and lifestyle changes. And here’s where I scrutinize myself…because I know that I would feel like a failure if I were in the exact same position I am in now, only 10 years older. And that’ ridiculous. What’s magical about your 20s in terms of making mistakes? Life is complicated and I think I know enough about it now to safely predict that I’m never going to figure it out. So why am I putting the pressure on myself to push towards a mistake-free life? It’s just not possible.
Delving further down the societal rabbit hole, what’s so important about getting married and having kids in your 20s? I mean, sure, there’s a certain biological component/ticking clock, but if that were the only factor, I think more women would have children in their teens. I imagine that younger women can recover from pregnancy more easily and have more energy to chase their toddlers. But yet, there’s no push to get girls in reproductive mode that early in this day and age. That being said, the pressure to have kids whilst your age begins with the number two is intense and primarily driven by society. It’s almost too much to handle as social media bombards me with engagements, weddings, and baby showers, whether real** or imagined (for instance, wedding boards on Pinterest of girls who are currently single).
So, having admitted that I only don’t feel like a failure right now because of my age, I worry about how this will impact me in the future. Will I be okay with myself when I still don’t have life figured out at 35 (or 50, or 83)? Will I feel like I lost the game of life if I never get married? Will I continue to define myself by what I do instead of who I am? Or will I recognize that life is an individual journey that is far from a strictly linear progression, and remain open to changes and opportunities at any age?
I think what it boils down to for me is that I thrive when I am working toward something. Life up until 23 was about 95% driven by a desire to graduate from college. During that time, if I failed at everything else, it was okay, because I was still moving towards the end goal. Then when life took a sudden turn for me just a few months after graduating, I had nothing concrete to drive towards, and I floundered. Now, I’m back on a path that may or may not be right for me, but it’s the path that I’ve chosen and given considerable thought. I think the only hang-up I still have is trying to correlate my path with that of my peers and/or societal stereotypes. And I need to stop doing that. I’ll close symbolically with a quote from Mean Girls, “Stop trying to make fetch happen. It’s not going to happen!”
*No idea if I got the punctuation of those lyrics right, but it represents my interpretation of their meaning.
**As a side note, if you are one of my friends who is recently engaged, married, or a new parent, please know that I couldn’t be happier for you and in no way mean to condemn your choice of lifestyle or blame you for bowing to societal pressure. I have no idea why life led you to where you are right now, but I only hope the timing is right and wonderful and perfect for you. The timing of these things does not feel right for me right now, for whatever reason.
I’ve been working an 8-5 day all week, and I have to say it does not suit me. It’s clear to me now that a traditional office job would NOT work for me. At least once I start, I’ll be picking my own schedule because I’m working PRN. This direct care job in a hospital setting is going to be interesting, and I know I’m going to learn a lot. I really like the DON.
That’s all I have time to write, because, you see, I have to go to bed. Womp womp.
PS: This two-week orientation started the Monday after my summer classes ended on Friday. On the plus side, I got A’s in all my classes…bringing my total credits towards nursing up to 16 with a 4.0 GPA 🙂
“I can’t lie: you’re on my mind, stuck inside my head. I wanna feel your heart beat for me instead.”
This is not going to be easy.
Probably, at some point you’ve all felt this way. That crazy feeling that you just can’t shake. You’ve got another person that you can’t get out of your mind, and you would sacrifice a great deal (maybe even everything) to be with them. Even if what you’re sacrificing is your plans for the future, it’s worth it because you think this person is all you could ever want. The only problem is either a) this person has no idea how you feel and/or b) this person does not feel the same way about you.
I can’t say that I’ve made any major sacrifices regarding my future, but I’ve definitely thought about drastic actions … and I’ve certainly spent a considerable about of my past thinking about the possibilities. Unrequited love is such an empty feeling, because you want with all your heart to be real, but you know in your mind that you’re in it alone.
I finally took the much needed step of admitting how I felt to the guy about whom I felt this way. It’s not a conversation that I wanted to have, but it turns out it was absolutely one that I needed to have. Interestingly, it was under predictable circumstances for this day and age … in the middle of the night, via text messaging (and then facebook chat when phones started to die). Surprisingly, of the two scenarios I laid out in the first paragraph, only b was true. Turns out he knew me better than I thought and had some suspicions of how I felt and what I was putting myself through to feel that way. Good thing, because leading questions at 3am were probably the only way I was ever going to admit it to him. And, like I said, it needed to happen.
Because see, here’s the problem: so much separates us, and so much time has passed that a romantic relationship is not only out of the question, it’s crazy that I thought I was sort of already in one (in an unrequited love sense). My heart wasn’t listening to reason, and was dragging me through the experience of loving someone who I don’t even know all that well and can never be with. Well, maybe it’s not completely true to say that I don’t know him well. But here’s the thing…to quote Doctor Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, “Ours is a relationship of the mind.” Sheldon was of course talking about Amy Farrah Fowler, but in a way it really rings true to me. He and I have a connection, but it is friendly and intellectual, not romantic and passionate. And I have no reason to suspect that it ever will be. And even if I did have reason to suspect, it does me no good to pin all of my hopes on a future hypothetical possibility. That’s like not working and just playing to lottery in the hopes that one day I’ll strike it rich.
The thing is, I’m wondering if any relationship is ever obviously happening at the right time and place, or if they all require a huge leap of faith. How much empirical evidence is required before I can feel justified in putting my heart out on the line? How few obstacles do there have to be before I can feel confident in going for the gold? Is it ever possible to know?
Here’s what I know for sure. I’ve channeled too much energy into imagining a future with this man, and I based it on no evidence that he wanted the same and ignored every obstacle in my path. That just doesn’t make sense. I also know that through all of this, even my sleep-deprived confessions, he has been a great friend to me. And the most heartbreaking thought in all of this is that he’s not asking me to change how I feel, so why have I been asking (not literally…maybe expecting is a better word) him to change how he feels?
I’ve got a great friend…and a friendship spanning 10 years…and that should really be enough for me. That’s the big breakthrough in all this (and the kool-aid reference in the title). I shouldn’t torture myself with what I don’t have, considering that what I do have is pretty great. I mean, he and I can talk about anything. Except my true feelings. Until now. I don’t know exactly why I felt the desire to put all that aside for some fantasy. But I think telling him was enough to check me back into the reality hotel; I hope I have a nice, long stay.
What an interesting society in which I find myself. I am lucky enough to live in an area where there is curbside recycling. This means that in order to fill my eco-karma for the week, all I have to do is throw my recyclables into a SEPARATE bin, and then remember to put them out once a week for collection. It’s amazing that anyone could fail to do such a simple thing. Fortunately, compared to 10 years ago, many more people do recycle. Every Wednesday morning, the streets are lined with bins like these. It warms my heart, just a little.
But what happens when, all of a sudden, the system breaks down? This year, the weekly recycling day fell on a National Holiday: July 4th. Yet for some reason, my neighbors still expected that the recycling pickup would commence as usual. What do they think this is, that famous geyser at Yellowstone, old faithful? No, this is a man-made, governmental system that does not operate on holidays.
So the regular recycling day came and went, and still PEOPLE LEFT THEIR BINS OUT, hoping the collection truck would come the next day. It did not. Nor the day after that. My neighborhood was beginning to look like this…the recycling was taking over!
Okay, I may be exaggerating a little. And it’s lucky for everyone that we didn’t have any major storm events in the intervening days. But I doubt people would have taken the time to take their bins in.
Finally, this morning, after 3 full days of staring at those bins, the recycling collector put me out of my misery! I turns out there was an official notification that only one bored neighbor read informing us that collection was scheduled to occur today all alone. But if the collection hadn’t come until the following Wednesday, I bet those people would have left those bins out for a full week, just in case.
My main point here is not about the recycling bins. Honestly, it wasn’t a major concern of mine. But I do think it’s symptomatic of some problems in our society. First, very few people think to ask questions…they just assume that things will occur as expected, and don’t question when they are amiss. Second, most people are resistant to change. Instead of realizing that the collection was rescheduled and adjusting by putting their bins in, they simply left them as-is. I think that’s just pure laziness.
And finally, I really do think that if all of a sudden, trash and recycling collectors stopped coming to our neighborhood for months on end, people would still put their bins and trash out for collection. They might even realize the change, but that wouldn’t stop them from piling it up outside. It makes me think about how quickly our society could disintegrate if just a few small things were to go amiss.