Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Being Pretty

Some days I wake up and wish that I was materialistic, superficial, self-absorbed, and dumb.  That’s today—thinking so much has just made me tired.  But, if I was a narcissist my life would be so simple.  All I would care about is me—what I want, when I want it, with no regrets or sense of consequence.  The only thing that would occupy my mind first thing in the morning would be my outfit.  Then as soon as that was settled, I would focus on my overall look.  And I would look gooood.  After that, I would go about my day without caring about others, because all that mattered would be me.  I would stop at every mirror and observe the glory of my life—making me look good.  I would walk to look good, I would eat to look good, I would sit, sleep, and speak to look good.  I would have no problem with this because I would be too dumb to know or care about anything else. 

But this is impossible. 

It’s not that I ever really, truly want to be a shallow, narcissistic wad of a human being, but I do often think it would be easier.  Things would be less complicated if I only loved myself and no one else.  There would be less stress in my life if I didn’t care about the happiness of my family.  How simple life would be if I didn’t care whether or not my cats are content, healthy, and fed.  Work would be undemanding if I didn’t care about what we did, what we stood for, and the people I work with.  Life could be less hard.

But this is impossible.

This is impossible because no matter what you do—no matter what you want—the world is one big web.  We cannot exist as self-sufficient individuals; we are always connected to a network of people, places, and things.  It begins from the moment we are born and we are instantly connected to at least one person—even if through basic necessity.  Overtime our need turns into love, compassion, empathy, and devotion.  This cannot be helped, we as human beings want and need connection with others.  We want to help, it makes us feel good.  The excitement on my mother’s face when I did something great meant the world to me.  Then I wanted to pass that on, keep that feeling going.  Happiness is addictive!

With age, our web expands, relationships grow and we learn the complexities of the world.  We learn how our actions affect others; we learn about consequences.  Our emotional world becomes more diverse and difficult as we learn of pain, hurt, heartbreak, and pride.  We lose trust, we gain responsibility, we fail, and we accomplish success.  We learn lessons through mistakes.  We make lots of mistakes.  Life becomes harder.  Life becomes scary.

But it also becomes unimaginably wonderful.   In every situation that I have struggled, I have realized an appreciation.  It can be a feeling so intense, you want to squeal—and I often do!  For example, if I worked out really, really painstakingly hard in preparation for a track meet, winning the race meant that much more to me.  I would be brimming with adrenalin for hours.  High on accomplishment, I would simply float.  Then, after I had the first devastating heartbreak, finding love again felt oh-so-good.  I would fight to hold on to this love—hug it and squeeze it and never let it go. 

I know that the thought of losing something allows me to love that something more completely, without judgment.  Being able to see life like that just makes it more fulfilling—makes every day worthwhile.

So, I imagine that if I really were that shallow, self-absorbed person that my life might be easier and simpler.   But it sure would suck.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Looking Ahead and Above

I haven’t written a blog post in a very long time.  First, I didn’t want to write inconsistently, so I wanted to make sure that if I started to write, that I would continue to write strong and interesting posts in a timely manner.  With that being said, honestly my head was just not in it.  Since April, my life has changed in so many exciting ways.  I got engaged to the love of my life, with which has led me to explore a whole new world of pretty planning.  Then, I closed one chapter of my life and started another at a new job in a totally different environment.   I began teaching yoga four days a week, often subbing for other teachers whenever I could.  And lastly, I started eating meat and consequently dropped 9 pounds. (More on that later)

I didn’t know where to begin.  My life began to follow an unchartered path and it was (and still is) just as scary as it is exciting.  The other day I actually used the word scary (among other more positive ones) to describe to Matt all the feelings I was having regarding our wedding.   He looked at me sideways and said, “Now that’s a word I would not use to describe my feelings toward our wedding.”  At first I was shocked.  I mean this is such a huge decision we are making, a lifelong choice, a true and soulful commitment—how could you not be just a little bit scared?  So, then I had to examine what it was that I really meant by scared.  Was I scared that I made the wrong choice?  Not one bit.  I knew in my heart when I was in Kenya, calling Matt on a satellite phone, that he was someone very special.  I was sitting on the ground, with my back against a large African tree while Matt sat on the curb outside his NJ bank.  We didn’t need to say anything of substance; it was just the excitement in his voice that let me know he really cared. 

So if I know I am making the right decision what am I scared about?  I could say that I feel too young, but that wouldn’t be entirely true.  Ever since I was a little girl, my mother has told me to not get married young.  “Don’t date until you’re 30!” she would say; although I threw that advice out the window in high school.  My father focused on my sports and academics.  My mother focused on my emotional strength, my interests and talents.  Together they raised me to be independent and confident.  As a consequence, I was not brought up with visions of me as a bride, and neither of my parents ever spoke to me about the fantasies they had about their little girl getting married.  It was not really talked about.  I’m at fault too; on my end I couldn’t ever picture my own wedding because how could you envision a wedding if you had no idea who you would be meeting at the end of the aisle?

But despite not exactly being encouraged to think about getting married, when the time came I knew my parents would want no one else but Matt to marry me.  Perhaps the timing was earlier than they expected, but no one has since asked me the question, “Are you ready?” so I take that as a sign of their confidence in me.  Personally, I was definitely taken by surprise and was in shock for a number of days. 

Yet that is the beauty in our love story.  It’s always been about the unexpected, going with my gut, my heart, and trusting it will steer me right.  Without going into detail, there are a lot of people who would have never guessed Matt and I would go out together ever.  Then, they were more shocked when we saw each other on more than one occasion during the first week.  Weeks later, no one could have seen it coming—that I would be writing him letters from across the world, hoping he would be writing me back.  But that’s the way we are.  We know what we want, what we like, and we just do it. 

And with that I found myself deeply in love and engaged at 24.  So again I ask, why am I even a little bit scared? 

The answer came to me eventually.  Really it’s something I’ve known all along, but didn’t want to admit.  The scary feeling comes from none other than a pesky little insecurity deep inside me.  It stems from a fear—ideas and feelings I have had about my own vision of my success.  Have I accomplished enough?  Am I still interesting and exciting?  Have I lived up to my potential?  It goes on.  This fear interferes with my drive to write blog posts, gets in the way of me deciding on a career, and in other small ways just creeps up on me.  Essentially I’ve had to take a good hard look at myself and see that despite all the beauty and love in my life, I still allow one single question to stand in my way.  Am I good enough?

After coming to that realization, I actually became relieved.  This is something I had control over.  Fear can be overcome.  I could change the way that I feel, and I had the ability to harness confidence and greatness.  Granted, it will be a question I will probably ask myself over and over and over again for the rest of my life.  But lucky for me, I will have a new husband who loves me and will always remind me that despite my fears, I am—and always will be—awesome.

Now if only a wedding could be planned that easily…