Monday, December 5, 2011


We're not doing so well, maintaining the momentum from last weekend for the holiday season. Unless you count listening to Christmas music while eating breakfast on the weekend. We do well with that (no effort! lots of reward!). We are still dithering about a tree, and lights, and etc. I think I'm going to look for a table top tree or two - that way, we could have a "real" tree, and we wouldn't need to worry about putting up a big one. Especially when it's just the two of us - and we'll be gone for Christmas weekend - and then we head out of town over New Year's as well. So, stay tuned. There might be some Christmas cheer around here yet.

I was thinking the other day about what an insufferable prude I was in high school. Not sure what brought this on - maybe Facebook? - but, my goodness. I like to think I am a fairly tolerant person, in my actions if not always my thoughts. I was definitely NOT that way in high school. And I was rather smug and self-righteous, too. Part of that may have been due to the fact that I had never really failed at anything - the brief "cheating scandal" was I caught up in in 7th grade life sciences was quickly debunked (I hadn't cheated, although one member of our group had, and that meant that all of us were under suspicion for a few days...); I nearly always made the honor roll, if not the distinguished honor roll; I was a teacher's pet (and had the sucking up skills to prove it); and I was involved in as many activities as I could handle. I don't think I wasn't a nice person back then, but I hadn't had to face failure - I hadn't had the opportunity to see people in really dire straits dealing with the crappy hands they'd been dealt by life - I hadn't been exposed to the nasty, random things that happen in life.

I'm not saying my life since high school hasn't been good - it got me where I am today, and that is (in my opinion) a pretty good place. And I'm not saying that I experienced terrible failures. Anything I've had to deal with in my life has been fairly benign, compared to what many people go through. But my academic success in high school did not translate to similar success in college. I encountered professors who made me step up my game and achieve what THEY wanted me to achieve. I chose the wrong graduate program the first time around. I couldn't get a job after I graduated, for 6 long months (and then it was a temp job). I switched graduate programs, then was told at the end of my first semester that I seemed apathetic. Nothing life- or earth-shattering, but for someone who had done pretty darn well from K-12, and who thought life would continue that way, it was a bit disconcerting.

Even after I righted myself academically - now on my third swing through graduate school, I think I've done okay in that regard - it wasn't always sunshine, rainbows, and bunnies. I was rejected by several places where I wanted to work post-first-grad school. I ran into people who simply didn't like me - usually in the workplace - and there was nothing I could do about it. I was remarkably bad at having an adult social life - dating, having friends, enjoying being young. I held on to bad relationships from college way too long. Little things - that didn't all come at once. But looking back, I see that the expectations I had for myself when I graduated high school were hilariously lofty. I didn't hit many of the goals I set for myself. And yet I'm so happy with where life has taken me.

I haven't had to overcome addiction, or tragedy. I was born in a place and time that gave me more options than women have had at any time in history. I have a wonderfully supportive family. My stumbles have been just that - stumbles. I haven't fallen all the way to the bottom and pulled myself back up - yet.

But I think I have learned from my missteps along the way. When you see the worst that can happen to people and families...when you see what others have overcome, and you are ever more grateful for what you have...when you see just how easily a life can be derailed, through no fault of the person whose life has gone off track...when you see just how random and capricious and vicious the world can be... I think you come to realize that things can change in any moment. At any time, this could all be taken from me. Nothing is guaranteed. I like to think this has made me more compassionate, more aware of the world around me, more sensitive to the possibility that someone has had a much worse day-week-month-year-decade than I can ever imagine.

Of course, this doesn't mean that I'm not judgey - we've covered that. It doesn't mean that I don't have nasty thoughts when the person behind me on the bus snorts for the millionth time in 10 minutes (for the love of god, people, TISSUES). It doesn't mean that I am anywhere close to a good person (well, maybe some of the time I am a good person). But I like to think that this awareness, that has evolved over the past 18 years, is making me a better person today than I was when I was a naive, self-absorbed high schooler. At least, I hope it is.

1 comment:

  1. Ah!! For the longest time, I was having trouble commenting on your posts -- suddenly, all is well again. Not sure what's changed, but I'll be commenting more often now. ; )

    And, by the way, who wasn't naive & self absorbed in high school?? ; )