For some reason recently I have been dwelling on that girl I was in high school. It might be a mid-life crisis, though I’m 36 now and had a quarter-life crisis at 23, so that math doesn’t work *at all.*
I have been thinking about the girl I was in high school and wondering how different things would be if all the strength I have now was in her. Except I know that I became who I am now because I went through all those years and experienced the things I did, reacted to them the way I did.
She was trying to balance herself – she wanted to be seen as pretty and nice and smart, but also invisible. She was terrified of the future and growing up. She bought into the old trope that she wasn’t good enough to ever be in a relationship. She felt wrong.
She struggled between trying to dress so that she would get noticed and trying to dress so she would feel good. Hell, I did that until a few of years ago when I realized my perfect work uniform was khakis, white shirt, sweater vest, Converse sneakers.
Yes, Converse sneakers. Good enough for my wedding, good enough for any other event.
I don’t have to try to wear dresses and skirts in winter. I don’t have to push myself to wear heels just because other women enjoy it. I don’t have to spend time in the morning doing my hair and makeup when I sweat all the work away by the time I get where I’m going.
I’m fine. I found this dude who loves me despite my terrible sense of humour. And I have a dog and a kid who both think I’m great, and they are excellent judges of character. Though she did go through a Barney phase.
I’m going through this thing right now that feels like history repeating itself. I go to school, I do well, I feel good about myself coming out of it, and I apply for jobs without getting any. It happened after college, it happened after my BA, it’s happening now despite experience, expertise and a Masters degree, plus great references.
I’m getting tired of being optimistic, and then everything being hard all over again.
In the past five years I’ve dealt with quitting my job while buying a house, going back to school while being a mother and trying to earn an income, starting a Masters program and working an election campaign. I’ve had pneumonia, bronchitis. I lost myself all of a sudden, no warning. I worked a stressful job while dealing with my grandfather’s failing health.
And I wonder if it’s just always going to be this hard from now on.
Sometimes I feel like I wasted my time in high school. I was struggling inside my head and I didn’t allow myself to be young, really. Now I feel like maybe I wasted the easy times. That I spent too much time worrying about things I can’t even remember now and failed to build myself for this part of life where real decisions and bills and hard questions are coming at you every day.
But at the same time, so much of this life I would never have wanted to miss. Because now I can relish a bit in the me I am. That I’ve done so much, been a part of so many things.
And here I stand, still.