Several years ago, in a career long gone, I worked with a woman who seemed bigger than life to me. She had left Michigan, she had come back. She had an adorable boyfriend, a daughter, a failed marriage. A variety of work experiences, a variety of life experiences. She seemed so beautiful and put together.
Ok, in all honestly, when I first met her I did NOT want her to get hired. I fell into the trap that most of women fall into. Hating other women on sight. She was beautiful, blonde, skinny, big boobs, fashionable, and confident. Luckily I got past myself and my insecurities and found out what an amazing woman she was.
While her and I lost touch a couple years after we met there are lessons she taught me that are still very much a part of my being. For one, don’t judge a pretty book by its cover. Just as it is not ok to judge someone as being ugly and discriminate against them, its also not right to dislike someone for being beautiful. Sounds cliched and overly simple, doesn’t it? Ask any woman you know and most will say they’ve fallen into this trap time and again.
She also taught me that life is what you make of it. At that time I was wholly obsessed with Sex and the City. I was a late follower of the show and it brought up every urge I had to move to NYC, a place I have still never seen, and live some fantastic life like the characters on the show, with less sex and more city. As i bemoaned living in Michigan and how exciting I was sure life had to be elsewhere she agreed that NYC would be a fun place to be but, “LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT,” and the older I get the more this idea resonates in me.
I have a life that I love. Not always. I do find myself at times wanting more, not being grateful for what I have, being jealous of others for the lives they lead. But I know that they have engineered their lives just as I have engineered mine. So if their life seems more appealing then it is my job to create that for myself.
I used to get so down on myself for being a homebody. I bought into the idea of what I “should,” be doing as a single woman of a certain age. Like going out. Being social, partying, falling in and out of love, etc. The older I get the more comfortable and confident I get in my own life as it is. I LOVE being a homebody. I prefer to be at home more nights than I am out. I love coming home to my dogs and my grandma. Having dinner, going for a walk, reading, watching tv or catching a movie. Playing on my computer, web surfing, dreaming, whatever. It may be a quiet life but its mine and I enjoy it.
I’ve also met some amazing people over the years. Men and women who have changed my life in HUGE ways. By hurting me, loving me, guiding me, supporting me, fighting with me, irritating me, making me laugh, teaching me about ME. I’m the one person I have to live with until death do us part. I appreciate my family more, though still not enough. I acknowledge more and more that I am the sole person in charge of my happiness and where life takes me.
Another lesson she taught me was that we can make a difference right where we are at. No life is too small. I was talking to her about my past job experiences, being a manager at a fast food chain, now working in retail in the beauty industry. Dreaming of where I wanted to go next in life. She told me, “it doesn’t matter what you do. You could have stayed working the drive-thru the rest of your life and you’d still be making a difference just by being who you are.”
Obviously the fact that I remember this so many years later, it struck a chord in me. The idea of making a difference just be being who I am was so simple and so powerful and so much the kind of romantic notion that I love. Now, when I get cranky or down on myself for not being some college degree holding, cubicle slave I try to slow down,breathe, and remember that just by being me and how I interact with people can make a difference. Its that simple.
I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I don’t think I’ll ever know. I’ll continue to be the sum of my experiences and passions. And that will be enough. Writing, loving, being involved with dogs, technology, the three F’s of my life (family, friends, faith). However my passions come together to take me places, that is where I will be.
And I will keep on living my quiet life, making it to be just what I need.
Maybe this seems like a great big love letter to myself. Maybe it is. Its the ponderings of my mind that I wanted to get down in some tangible way. If it somehow helps someone else to love themselves too, well so much the better.