Sometimes it’s subtle. Other times blatant and bitter. And other times still it’s simply a longing that I am all too familiar with.
It must be nice, they say.
It must be nice to travel.
It must be nice to have weekends with the girls.
It must be nice to live grand adventures and dramatic moments that have nothing to do with the daily grind of getting from one week to the next.
It must be nice to get to do/see/have those things.
And I think to myself, it sure is.
Not because I think my life is always dramatic or perfect or filled with laughter and interesting stories. And not because I am smug or self-satisfied, thinking I have somehow “figured out” anything of any consequence. No. There is not even an ounce of superiority in me as I affirm that “yes, yes it is nice.”
There is, instead, an enormous sense of relief that washes over me. I can feel the lightening all over again as if it was the first moment the burden was lifted from me.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that burden lately. I watch from afar as friends struggle with it. I read other women write about it. And it’s all too easy to remember how god damned heavy it was to carry the burden with me.
The burden said that time was marching past. It told me that I was running out of time. It sat on my chest and pummeled me over and over again with the message that I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t doing enough, wasn’t at all what I was supposed to be. The burden carried with it a constant sense of dread like that of a ticking time bomb strapped to your back.
But it’s gone now. It’s been months since I’ve felt that level of suffocation, and reading about it only clarifies for me the stark difference between Then and Now.
And the only thing that changed was me.
Neither my husband nor I make any more money than we used to. In fact, we earn less than we have in the past. And we make far, far less than damn near every other couple we know. I still have obligations and responsibilities, including one more whole mouth to feed than I had just three years ago. I don’t have any more education than I did on my 19th birthday, and neither does Jared.
I’m not smarter or prettier or more fortunate than I have been at any other point in my life.
Not a single one of the obstacles that I’d always perceived to be “holding me back” has been removed from my path.
And yet, somehow, my life has exploded into a tidal wave of opportunity upon opportunity.
And again, I don’t say that to be smug. You can’t say your life is good on the Internet without pissing someone off – but truly, it is more than better than how it was before. It is a different life entirely, one more full than I had ever even dreamed about for myself. And as much as I cringe saying that, bracing myself for the backlash, I want so badly to bottle it up and give it to the people around me who I see pinned down.
I want to tell them it can be OK. I want to tell them how I know that.
I can pinpoint the turning point. The catalyst between that life and this one.
I came back from a trip to Philadelphia known as TequilaCon and was overwhelmed and amazed by the stories of people stepping outside their comfort zones. I realized that it had been years since my own comfort zone had been challenged, and I started to panic. The Burden was suddenly doubling in size and I felt the walls closing in around me.
I emailed a very good friend of mine and begged her to fix me. Show me. Shake me. Do something to make me understand how my life had gotten so damn stagnant. She advised me to look closer at my fears and myself. She typed the words that changed my life…
“…so i will ask you, what do you feel that are you being held back from? what is it that you desire that you feel that you can’t have by being married to jared and being mom to your children? are you sure that you really are being held back and not simply afraid to try certain things?
On May 10th, 2008 I woke up.
I suppose I had started the process several months earlier when I had thrown caution to the wind and moved to Florida. I moved further down the path in December when I realized that I needed to go see a doctor.
But May 10th is the day it all clicked. It’s the day I really started living.
That’s the day I realized that it didn’t matter how much money I made or didn’t make, because I could choose how to spend every single dollar. And I had a whole world full of options and alternatives available to me if I would just open my eyes to them.
And it didn’t matter how many hours I had in the day, because they were MY hours. It was MY time to spend however I wanted, and I had a brand new one to spend however I wanted over and over again.
This was my life – is my life. Right here. Right now. And it was simply waiting for me to step into it.
Even with two kids. Even with the husband and the job and the chubby thighs. Even without the degree or the fairy godmother that would finance my life of leisure. This was – this is – my life. And almost all of the reasons I’d been giving myself for putting it off were bullshit.
Since May 10th, I have…
- been to New York City.
- watched my children swim with manatee
- went away with my husband for the weekend
- been in a professional photo shoot
- started a radio show
- had a fabulous girls weekend in Orlando
- been to two political rallies
- once with a press pass and special access to “the media area”
- attended my first protest
- redefined my job
- gotten my first official paid writing gig
- and my second
And the only thing that’s changed… is me.
I tell you this not to impress you or lecture you or bore you to tears. I tell you this to remind you, to implore you to believe, that the world really is your oyster. Your dreams are attainable and they are within reach at this very moment. Life does not wait for kids to grow up or raises or retirement. It marches on with or without our participation, simply waiting for us to jump into it.
I tell you this to remind you that there is a way. There is always a way.
And I tell you this also because, sometimes, it’s good to remember… yeah, it is nice.