Lately I’ve been thinking about all the support and encouragement given to me by friends and family over the course of my life. My family never held me to their own preconceived notions of success and supported me when I wanted to be an actor, when I quit URI 1 year short of a degree, when I moved to CA, when I moved back to RI, when I went back to school at RIC, then at UMD, then left the program after my Master’s instead of staying for the Ph.D., when I quit two subsequent graduate programs, and even when I had the crazy notion to go out to New Mexico and be a writer even though I had no clear plan of action or income.
At no point did anyone say to me “are you really sure you aren’t taking the easy way out and selling yourself short and we are kind of disappointed that you haven’t taken responsibility for finishing much of what you have set out to do and you are capable of much more if you just put your nose to the grindstone and submitted to the path you’ve chosen instead of going down every other footpath that you come across.” Nobody said these things because I have a facility with persuasive arguments and can be very good at convincing myself and those around me that a) I know what I’m doing and b) that my actions are rationally considered and will bring me happiness. Since my friends and family want me to be happy, whenever I make a life decision and bring up reasons x, y, and z demonstrating how this particular action will make me happy and move me forward to something like contentment, they think I’m being brave and making choices based on my own personal rubric for fulfillment; that I’m moving to the beat of my own drum and living life by my own rules and such a life is to be admired and supported.
Of course, I’m within inches of turning 40,1, I’m working at a temp job that uses about 5% of my brain but that I stay at because they keep extending my job assignment, and it’s comfortable in a soul-deadening way, and with the economy the way it is I feel too afraid to let the job go, and it’s only 5 miles from my apartment. The problem isn’t this job per se, but the fact that I have consistently narrowed my options in life rather than expand them.
And, quite honestly, I am disappointed with where I am compared to where I would like to be. The actuality of my personal, professional, and artistic lives simply does not match my potential. So, yes, I do think people ought to be disappointed in me, at least in some ways. I’m not asking for a mental or emotional flogging. I don’t think my failings make me an awful person or someone deserving of punishment, but at the same time, I think a small dose of disappointment and frustration might not be such a bad thing for me to hear from those whose opinions matter to me. While the onus of my life lies entirely upon myself and my choices, having someone else express disappointment when my decisions are counter to future success and stability might allow me to voice my own reservations and would at least validate some of my own feelings about my life.
Just a thought.
On this day..
- ok, so a year and inches [↩]