Some people remember the birth of their first child, or the first time they stuck their toes in the ocean with complete clarity. Me? I can’t forget where I was or how I felt when I suddenly realized, “Is this really it?” I’d worked hard my whole life to do well in school, excel at work, and to make my own way independently. Suddenly, at 26, I’d accomplished everything I had in my “long-term” plan. I don’t know how it happened or why I didn’t have anything else on my goals radar. But suddenly, here I was. Everything I thought I’d ever wanted to do was done. I was so disappointed I started crying. And then became overwhelmed with the guilt of knowing very few people can say they’ve accomplished what I had and here I was unhappy. I didn’t want to be that girl so I buried it down and pretended to be happy. Well, that and I hate listening to people complain about something without a solution. And I didn’t have a solution. So I wasn’t going to personify my own pet peeve.
Apparently I thought when I accomplished all of this I would have simultaneously captured the elusive goal of happiness. And before you say, “Money can’t buy you happiness.” I KNOW that. It was never about money other than from a financially secure standpoint. All I was trying to do was be successful in order to have a secure future, depending only on myself.
I guess it all goes back to my very first boyfriend. I was so naïve. First, I honestly thought a person could only fall in love once. I thought a person’s heart was only capable of loving one person, ever. That’s the only way marriage made sense to me. I thought once you find a person who you fall in love with and that person falls in love with you, that’s it. The perfect match. Destiny. He and I were going to get married. I’m not even sure if I ever really considered what our future would be like, but I was sure I loved him. He pushed the relationship with aggression, dragging me along unsure and frightened. And, ironically, just as I was starting to catch my footing and feel like things were right, he dumped me. At 19 years old the “love of my life” quit. And I had three simultaneous thoughts. First, of course I was pissed and embarrassed. These two emotions are commonly one in the story of my life. Second, I was literally disabled with heartache. I couldn’t function and didn’t want to talk about it. He couldn’t leave. He was my one and only. I’d wasted my love card on him. He took it and left. Third, in the back of my mind I knew I’d dodged a bullet. What if we had gotten married and had a few kids and THEN he left? I was in college but not really taking it seriously. All I saw was getting married and being a housewife. Not that that’s not a respectable thing, of course. But had he left, I wouldn’t have been prepared to take care of myself, or our imaginary children. What was I thinking?
So I set out to secure my future. Focused on college and my career, I worked as hard as I could. I tackled every new project I could get my hands on. I learned as much as I could. And I pushed myself up the ladder. I got my MBA and got a big title.
And we’ve circled back around to where this story begins. All I thought I needed was to find that security and everything else was easy. The only problem was I didn’t know what “everything else” was. And nothing is easy, especially the day-to-day monotony of life. And it’s not that my job sucks. I have a great job. It’s that I was looking ahead of myself and saw the same days over and over. And for what? I’d work my butt off for a paycheck. Sure my employer appreciated me. Sort of. But they weren’t going to be there when I was sick or growing old. They weren’t going to be there when I was lonely. And I was. Lonely, that is. I
’d discovered work is work, and it’s only fulfilling at work.
So, that’s the start of my bitter, cynical story. Oh, sure. I’ve always been cynical. And somewhat bitter. But my bitter cynicism had reached new heights. And I wanted to capture how I’m feeling now not only as a therapeutic outlet so my friends don’t have to listen to me bitch anymore. But also as a warning for those of you about to walk down the same path as me. Was the path I’ve taken right? I think it was. But the focus I had walking down the path, ignoring everything around me, is where I think I went wrong. I can’t fix what I’ve missed, but I can try to find whatever it is my life is missing. And I’ll say right now, I don’t think what I’m looking for is a guy (or girl!). Sure, a guy would be nice. But I think there’s more to this story. At least I hope so. Otherwise I’ll be bored.