We went out to a friend’s house on Friday night. Four couples, board games and wine. It was very civilized, very grown up. Their house was perfect – from the candles on the stairway to the lack of any evidence of their toddler. They are perfect, both pursuing successful careers. I was the only “non-corporate” person there and felt out of place at times.
It’s not unusual for me to feel that I don’t fit in, I’ve felt that way fairly consistently for a lot of my life. Not that I don’t fit in anywhere, because there are many places that I do, but as someone who consciously examines my psyche on a regular basis… I don’t know. I feel different than other people. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, an artist if you will. My perception of the world feels like it’s on a slightly different axis than a lot of other peoples’. I imagine “reality” exists in the in-between of all of our perceptions, but still, I felt like the odd-man out a few times that night.
Saturday night, I headed to my friend’s house for her 30th birthday. It was a night with couples and games, but so different. None are married, none have children. The houses were rented, not purchased, there was pot and cigarettes. Curtains as doors and animals galore.
Each evening was enjoyable in its own right, but seemingly on different ends of the “grown up” spectrum.
I came home to my house cluttered with kids toys, muddy boots in the hallway, milk spots on the counter. I’m not perfect and have never believed I would be able to achieve perfection. But I did perceive others as perfect. Perfect housekeepers or perfect at balancing their lives. Perfect athletes or perfect intelligence… There were aspects of lives I saw this weekend that I admired and there were aspects of lives I saw that intimidated me. But it didn’t make me think that they were perfect.
This is my own journey, and slowly but surely, I’m learning how to own that. I’m learning that I’m the one who chooses my path, the person who takes credit for the great choices I’ve made and responsibility for the shitty things I’ve done.
I didn’t realize how utterly lost I was until I started to find myself again. And my, what a scary thing being lost is. I’ve spend the past five years giving to other people because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. And it was, because children need you to give and give and give. But I didn’t stop to think about what I really wanted and what I really needed as a person independent of my husband and children. I’ve spent the past five years trying to be the best wife for Steve, and while that’s no less important to me now, I’m starting to realize that “taking” doesn’t mean I’m not giving anymore.
I’m starting to see my path more clearly, and while I may not know exactly where I want to go (and wonder if I ever really will), I can at least see the outlines of a trail now. And more importantly, I believe that I’m on it.
I’ve rationalized my decisions against other people for years. I’m not working because the kids are young. And while it’s true that they were a big factor in my decision not to go back to work right now, I actually didn’t want to. I don’t want to work in the corporate world. I want something flexible that fits my life. I want freedom and time away. I don’t want to be owned by a corporation. And I’m strong enough to say that out loud now. Because there is no “should do”, there’s only following my heart (and maybe sometimes my head). And having faith that I can find what it is I’m looking for.
I’ve felt alone a lot over these past few months, misunderstood and scared. But I understand more clearly now that we’re all on our own journey, and therefore, we’re all alone. But not all the time. And it doesn’t have to be lonely.