Saturday, June 26, 2010

Autonomy and Adulthood

I attended 'camp' this past week. Not a *fun* camp, mind you - statistics/methodology camp, for my research. While it wasn't fun in the traditional sense, it was particularly helpful in clarifying what I can and cannot do with my data, certain issues surrounding data collection and analysis, and other bits and pieces that are finally coming together as I learn more formally the methods I was apprenticed to for my dissertation.

And boy, does that sound boring. ;) It really was a fun week, for a nerd like me.

Well, the learning part was fun.

Having to spend 4.5 days in a classroom with 20 other academics? Not as much fun.

Having to spend my time with a colleague who I enjoy in small doses, but apparently not in large, week-long doses? Tiring and periodically dispiriting.

Having to ride with said colleague as she terrorized me on the six hour drive to and from camp? Probably took about 5 years off my life.

Returning to my quiet, peaceful home? Priceless.

I've realized recently the value of adulthood and autonomy. Other than actions required for my job - of which there are many, but few that I don't *want* to do - really, no one can make me do what I want to do anymore. This has become particularly clear as I have realized that I do not *have* to watch friends' children for them, unless I want to. I do not *have* to have a meal or drink with someone I do not want to spend time with. I do not *have* to attend extended family gatherings and be made to feel guilty about our continuing childlessness.

I will grant you that my well-developed sense of guilt frequently compels me to do things that I feel a bit wishy-washy about. But for the most part? The things that I am doing...are things that I want to do.

And sometimes? Sometimes I revel in the fact that our schedules are (mostly) our own. That we do not have to worry about child care, or summer camp, or the elementary school calendar. Sometimes I can enjoy that freedom. Other times, I wish our schedules were more crowded. That we had the joy and difficulty of balancing soccer-gymnastics-scouts-campouts-family vacations-visits to the grandparents like so many of our friends and neighbors do.

But for this weekend - while I recover from the past week - I am going to enjoy our unscheduled, relatively unfettered life.

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