When I was a kid, I had this image in my head of who I would be when I reached my 30s. I thought I’d have it all together. Now, don’t ask me what it all was; and don’t ask me how I was going to have or put it together. That’s besides the point. The point is that I was going to do the damn thing. So you can imagine my shock and dare I say, embarrassment, to find myself in my mid 30s, divorced, raising my child alone, unemployed (with degrees), and having the nerve to still find myself figuring out what I want to be when I grow up.
I called shenanigans on this here Life thing. I mean I felt seriously bamboozled. I graduated high school with a 4.1 GPA. And yeah, ok while I graduated from undergrad Thank You Lawdy, my GPA in my major was a 3.7 (so there!). I even graduated grad school with a 3.66 GPA. So didn’t that mean I was entitled to some type of reward? And I’m not talking about that piece of paper they give you on the stage. So where was my damn award? Dammit! *Cue Florida from Good Times*
I was pissed. I felt led astray. Run amuck. I didn’t land on Plymouth Rock! Plymouth Rock landed on me! Oh wait, that was Denzel as Malcolm X, but I think you get my point. My point is that I was angry. And I was angry for a good reason. This isn’t what my life was supposed to be! After all, I’m me! And that’s when it hit me. So what. Just who in the hell did I think I was?
My dad would say quite often to me, “It’s not what the world owes you. The world don’t owe you nothing. It’s what you owe the world.” I lost track of that somewhere along the way. I got full of myself and started living on auto pilot, expecting the world to give me things. Don’t get me wrong, I was willing to work hard. I was willing to be kind and compassionate. But I was still expecting a reward for being and doing those things. So a little piece of me would run and build a piece of a wall whenever I would experience disappointment. I worked hard but didn’t get the A? Lay a brick down. I was loving and got rejected? Slather that cement and add another brick. The job, that person didn’t turn out to be what I wanted? We’re going to need some more bags of bricks and cement over here guys! I built that wall until one day I realized there was no one on the side of it with me. And I had no one to blame but myself. Initially, that depressed the hell out of me. I was downtrodden. I felt hopeless and full of despair. Then I realized what a treasure that is! First, I realized that no one abandoned or rejected me. I abandoned and rejected myself. The people in our lives are only mirrors reflecting us back to ourselves. So there was that. Then I got excited because I figured if I’m the one responsible for this all, then I have the power to change it.
Wow, How simple! And you know what? I’ve been doing just that. And you know something else? It’s been difficult. It is certainly not easy to take the reigns of my life and steer them in the direction I wish to head. Simplicity and ease are not synonymous. While it may not be easy, it is quite doable. And the rewards that I have been desperately seeking for most of my life are now mine. Rewards like peace, confidence, self-love (and after all, self love is the best love). I gave them to myself the minute I stopped looking for them to come from an external source. Now that I’ve chosen to look within, I can get on with the business of giving something back to the world. I can now contribute the things that only I can contribute in the way that only I can contribute them so that when I leave this place, I can leave knowing that I did what I could and what I wanted. And that is the task before each of us–to give the world what only we can give without needing and wanting the world to give us something in return.
So ok, my life doesn’t look like what I wanted it to look like. But come on, why would it? I was holding on to a vision I crafted when I was 8. I mean, who does that? It had to change. And that’s okay. Right now, I can say that while it still doesn’t quite look as I would like, I have and I am taking the steps to get it where I want it . After all, I don’t need the world. I just need to be me in it.
So what about you? Who do you think you are? And just what are you going/and willing to do about it?