Squishing About in My Brain

Failure at Life

Posted on: August 15, 2012

My 25th high school reunion was last weekend.

Yep, that’s what I said. Twenty-five big uns since I was an insecure, lonely little harbinger of doom for the future.

Naturally, this milestone dredged up a lot of crapola for me, as big-number anniversaries are wont to do, especially for a girl who never went through therapy. Enough for multiple posts, to be honest. But today I am sticking to one particular topic, as it has been haunting me all day.

This is the first reunion I have attended. Of any sort. For the most part, I just flat out was not interested in going. At all. It was not a matter of still holding grudges or still hating the people who were evil to me in high school (and there were a couple who were unforgettable, but have probably forgotten).  It wasn’t a matter of not liking them. It wasn’t a matter of not giving a shit about any of them; although I kept telling myself I didn’t care, I still read about them on Facebook, so that was just me justifying to myself.

Of course I am curious about these people with whom I shared a childhood.

As every reunion year rolled around, I kept telling myself that there was no reason to go backward, and that no one there had any part in my life, and the ones I still speak to, whom I consider friends, were in touch with me anyway and no one else would give a shit anyhow.

While this is kind of true, it is faulty reasoning at the very least.

Truth be told, I have been through a ton of pretty difficult shit in the last 25 years, enough to choke the proverbial horse, and while none of it is anything so disreputable or illegal that I should be ashamed of my choices, I still didn’t want a) to be judged for it or b) hear and see other people’s happy life stories, in contrast to mine.

It’ been a difficult couple of years. Okay, a difficult 18 years, but the last ten have been a hang-on-by-my-nails kind of ride for the most part. Between parenting stress, poor person stress, who-the-fuck-am-I stress and health problems, I’ve spent most of the last year or so in my house. Not constantly; I was not  a shut-in, but given a choice I almost always chose to stay home and be lethargic, alone, and/or depressed. (Quite like high school, now that I think about it; just with different motivations, and finally a physical and explainable one added on.)

My attitude, she sucked. Big. She had some reasons, but she was fucking stuck.

There’s your overview.

Here’s your specific.

Thanks to the benevolence of others, I signed up for some reunion fun.

I got my ass prettied up, ignored my insecurity about what’s going on with my body and health, and went. For the most part, I had fun. I had some moments of sadness about where I am in my life, a little despair and, yes, some outright envy, and some moments of “I just fucking wanna go home”, but I had fun, too. I made myself do things I never do, with people I never really knew; I forced myself out of my comfort zone multiple times, and it wasn’t ALL thanks to the gin I imbibed. (But the barefoot dancing was allll about the free wine.)

By Friday night, having spoken to many people, I realized that whenever someone asked what I do, I was repeatedly saying, “Nothing.”

Really? Nothing?

Or I would make sure I said I USED TO work for a computer company in California, but then moved back here and was now just doing “nothing”.

Finally, someone called me on it: “No, really, what do you do?” Part of me wanted to cry, and get really fucking drunk on someone else’s booze, and part wanted to tell her I was wasting both my education and my life, and a tiny sliver wanted to banshee-scream at her and then melt away into goo.

I do something. I work a somewhat menial, not-high-paying job that I am VERY good at, and am respected for in my workplace, and have managed to keep my car so far, with a lot of help from my parents, especially the first year. In a recession.

It is not a job that requires a college degree, which I have. It is not a job that uses my brain to capacity. It is not a job that will make me rich and secure, nor is it a job that has unlimited potential. It is not a job in which I will be plucked from obscurity and set atop the pinnacle of fame or fortune.

But it is a job with pretty much no stress. And I am very, very good at it.

Believe me, I have gotten the “wasted your college education” spiel multiple times (sometimes on a daily basis), sometimes blatantly, sometimes just in a changed, but obviously so, attitude towards me. The “you need/should want to make more money” judgement?…oh, hayl yes. To the point where people with this outlook have gotten downright angry with me for not being that rah-rah show-me-the-money person.

I was brought up by a man who values money above all. That is who he is. It is who his mother was. It is absolutely NOT who I am. I never have been. I pretended to be for awhile, but I AM JUST NOT. I know this is a huge detriment in a capitalist society; I KNOW. And the older I have gotten, the more I have realized that I just can’t fake it anymore. I just do not value money above all things. And if I hate something, I am no longer a good faker.

So, at 41, I decided to stop faking it. Yes, this is not considered the brightest choice to make in a recession, but it became a matter of my sanity. I can’t work a high-paying, stressful job anymore. I just can’t.

I have nothing to be ashamed of. I work. I have goals. I am doing my best as often as possible, complete with setbacks and bad days, like every other damn day in every other damn person’s life.

So I took a job I am good at, and that gives me a workout, with plans to start selling my art,which is what I really love, and what I “really want to do with my life”.
Do my choices have consequences? Of course they do. Immediate ones, sometimes. Am I scared? Hell yes. Almost every fucking day! Do I spend a lot of time feeling worthless for not meeting other people’s expectations, and shame myself for not making enough money, and living under the aegis of my parents? Of course I do. And, yes, sometimes it freezes me in place. Solid.

Do I feel that I am seriously lacking, at 43?

Obviously I do, seeing how I answered the question all weekend.

But the thing is…I may be considered a failure at making money…but I am very much NOT a failure in life.

I know this. I often forget to acknowledge it,but I KNOW it.

I never got married, so never had that kind of two-income household. I still raised two daughters on my own, for the most part, and they are still alive as adults, and all in all, good people.

Was it a huge fucking struggle the whole fucking time, making the choices I did?  You bet your ass.

BUT I FUCKING DID IT.

Did I go without and do things I didn’t want to do to make it happen? Yes, of course I did. Sometimes shit is just NECESSARY. You have to keep moving, like a shark. Stop, and wither and die.

But here’s the thing I have forgotten so many times over the last 18 years, and obviously forgot last weekend: I am intelligent. I have a huge heart. I can find the best in people almost immediately. I am passionate. I am compassionate, even to people I do not know. I can see humor in anything, and that has the power to keep people moving, and living, and happy. I care about people—yes, more than I care about money, BUT THAT IS NOT A BAD THING.

I am a good person. I am worthy of respect and love, and I deserve to be proud of what I HAVE achieved in life rather than ashamed about what I have not; about who I AM rather than who I am not.

And last weekend, I should not have been ashamed to say that I quit a good job, moved back to my hometown during a recession, have been working part time jobs, and that I do not WANT to live the way most other people live; that I want to make art, and make a difference to people, and not work my life away for money, and admit that I am not a capitalist, and that I STILL LIKE MYSELF for doing it this way, even though it isn’t common, or considered smart, or possibly even American. Regardless of my setbacks, and my freezes, and my despair…I know I am doing the right thing. I know this is part of my path.

Would I like to be less of a financial burden to my retired parents? Absolutely. Could I use a life coach sometimes? Yep. A sugar-spouse? That would ease things, yes. Someone to remind me to do a step at a time, just one thing, and be proud of it, and then plan another step for tomorrow? Of course, I could use the help. Someone to encourage the hell outta me when I cannot do it for myself? Lovely.

But, all in all, I am still moving forward. I am still living my life as best as I can, the way I am supposed to live it. I am still a fucking lioness. I am still fine just the way I am.

And I do not have one thing to be ashamed of. Not ONE.

…(Okay, maybe one, but not about THIS.) ;P

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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