Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Accepting My Life is Different than Yours

I haven't written in a while and I have wanted to for some time. So here I am, back at it and I wanted to discuss why most of us are constantly comparing ourselves, our lives, our kids, our whatever, to other people. WHY? First you should remember that the story you think you see, the truth you think you know, is almost never the truth behind the curtain. And I've come to realize that it's not even intentional most of the time. Most of us just like to share our favorite pictures or a happy day and that's great. But please remember, that is about 10% of the full story. And also, even if it is the absolute truth, good for you. Seriously, I hope that everyone is happy and healthy and doing amazing things. Even if my life feels messy and hard and exhausting, I still hope that yours is amazing.

More important, what "they" are doing with their lives has absolutely nothing to do with what I am doing in my life. LIKE NONE! Zero, Nada...Look, it took my son 5 years to graduate high school. Yup, not college, high school. He made the very mature decision in the middle of his senior year to take a medical leave and do it all over again the following year. And I am sure it was hard on him, to watch his friends graduate and move on and have to head back to school without them. But you guys, it may have been way harder for me. Like really, really hard. But he graduated and he's headed to a good school in the honors program with a merit scholarship. And it taught me a few life lessons:

1. Every path is different. EVERY. PATH. IS. DIFFERENT. There are a million places to go and a million ways to get there. There is no one right way to do life. Don't let anyone tell you it "should" be this way or that. That is bullshit.

2. It's almost never about you. People will judge you because things that are different make them nervous. When someone does something different, it makes them question whether they are doing it right and that makes people nervous. Its' okay to be you. It's okay to do something that someone else doesn't understand. Don't take their judgement personally.

3. Be true to yourself. This one is hard, I get it. Sometimes we lose sight of who we are, what we want with so many messages in the world about who we should be. Lucky for me, the Universe sent me two very unique, very different, very strong individuals who scream out loud daily about who they are. Watching my oldest son walk away from kids he no longer wanted to be friends with or decide not to go to a party everyone was at definitely made me uncomfortable, but he couldn't care less. He knew what he wanted to do and why. And my youngest son has dyed his hair a few different colors including pink without a care in the world about what the world would think. I am 43 years old and it has taken me this long to love myself that much. You are you, celebrate it, own it and be amazing. If someone else is uncomfortable, that has nothing to do with you.

4. It will all work out. This is also a hard one to believe in the moment. In the moment, there is stress and helplessness and fear. But what I have learned is that those feelings are almost never helpful. Most of the time, when we are past the hard part and the sun is shining, we can look back and see how crazy our fear was. If we can remember this in the moment, we can enjoy life more. We can dance in the rain instead of be angry that the sun isn't shining.

My life is probably nothing like yours and it most certainly didn't go according to any plan. When I married my husband it was "supposed" to be forever.  My son was "supposed" to be the class of 2018.  And I could list about a hundred more things that were "supposed" to be.  I can spend all day comparing my life to everyone else's but to what end, I am where I am. And where I am is pretty amazing. And where you are is pretty amazing too.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Danger with Fairy Tales (and Fifty Shades of Grey)

First let me say that I LOVE fairy tales. I have always wanted to be a princess and would happily walk around in tutus and tiaras if I could get away with it. I also read every book in the Fifty Shades of Grey series and found them very enjoyable. But at some point in my mid-twenties, while watching Ever After with Drew Barrymore (still a huge favorite) it dawned on me that there really is no happily ever after and it kind of pissed me off.

I think of myself as a strong woman who can certainly provide for and take care of herself. But I am also a hopeless romantic who has been told since I was too little to remember that if we looked hard enough, we would find our prince charming, that he would complete us and that that would be enough. What little girl doesn't want to be Cinderella or Ariel or Belle. And yes, I do believe in my prince charming, but not exactly the way Disney spins it.

First, the idea of "...and they lived happily ever after" is a terrible lie. This one should be self explanatory, especially if you are or have been married. And I am not saying that we won't find our own version of this, but...most fairy tales conclude with the dream wedding (another stupid notion costing absurds amount of money and causing way too much stress), they kiss and then it pans away and The End. about The Beginning. Cause shit gets real after that. The first year of marriage, kids, jobs, money issues, in-laws and so much more. We are not told the truth and we are certainly not prepared. Have you ever heard the saying that what screws us up the most is the picture in our head of how it's supposed to be? Yup, pretty much.

Another very scary notion that a lot of us woman buy into is that we can change him. There are so many stories of a "bad" boy falling in love and ending up as the nice guy in the end. It only took the love of a good woman. And this is where my Fifty Shades of Grey discussion comes in. Make no mistake, under the handcuffs and kinky sex, this is a modern day fairy tale. There is a young innocent girl who falls in love with and captures the heart of a cold, super rich guy who happens to have some dangerous habits. I loved the books and couldn't wait to see the movie (which I did really like as well). However, something happens when you see it on the big screen and the reality of "punishment" cannot be denied. On the way home, my husband to said to me, "I don't care how much I didn't like a woman, I would never hurt her." And that is when it hit me that in real life, the ending to this story would not be the same. If a man believes that it is okay to hurt a woman, even with rules and consent, girlfriend you need to run away and never go back. Because in real life, he does not end up changing and he is definitely not your prince charming.

I am very lucky to have been raised by a strong woman and kind father who taught me what real love and commitment looked like. I wanted what they had even if I didn't know it when I was 10 and wanted desperately to be Cinderella. I think that even as adults we still struggle with what Hollywood says we should want and the reality of life. I think Frozen was a huge step in the right direction, but we have a lot more work to do.