A Little Reminder to Myself …

Came across this the other day (thank you, once again, Yogi Teas, for your inspired labels), and I found it particularly applicable this week.

I don’t know what provoked it, but I’ve been a little down this week. Feeling a little lonely. Alone. Ostracized. Excluded. I guess I was due for it – this year has been pretty free of lows for me.

That’s the thing I’ve never been able to quite conquer – the fact that I seem to be somewhat of a walking contradiction. I’ve never been afraid to go after the things that I want the most, but I’m consumed by fear of rejection when it comes to getting the one thing I truly want more than anything in the world. I love being around people, yet I find myself so crippled by fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, or what other people are thinking, or of judgements, that I have a hard time really being completely comfortable around anyone until I know that they are receptive to my friendship.

Much in the same vein, I do have trouble letting my guard down, and being vulnerable. Maybe it’s age, or maybe it’s just oversensitivity, but I feel like the few occasions in which I have allowed myself to open up, I’ve ended up getting hurt. I realize that pain and struggle is part of the process, but so much of me wonders why it has to be so hard for people to just be real. Say what they mean. Mean what they say. Avoid conflict. Though I’m starting to think that in my attempts to avoid conflicts, I’ve hurt myself – squandered opportunities, been passed over for someone more assertive. And that truly hurts my heart.

But I’m not going to wallow in the fallout of a bad day (which, by all accounts, should have been a great day – had I not allowed myself to feel like the outsider looking in). I’m going to use it as a learning experience, and motivation to know that something amazing is at the end of the tunnel. A reward for the struggles. To finally get that ultimate happiness that is sure to be the result of overcoming what may now appear to be impossible challenges. As much as I hate the saying “good things come to those who wait,” I do hope it’s true – because as long as I feel like I’ve been waiting, something pretty amazing has to be ahead of me.

Today’s Women “Marrying Down”? No Thanks, I’ll Wait for Prince Charming.

Earlier today, I came across a short article labeled “’Marrying down’ is an up-and-coming trend among women.” Of course, that prompted me to find the complete article. It went on to briefly discuss the findings of a Institute for Public Policy study, which found that women in their 20s and 30s are more likely to marry men “beneath themselves” – as in, those who marry men of lower income or social classes. (Interestingly enough, they found today’s women still tended to be drawn to older men.)

At the risk of infuriating modern women all over the world … this makes me really sad. Call me old fashioned – I know that I am – but I don’t want to be the high-earner in the relationship. I still want that man who will sweep in and take care of me. Essentially, allow me to work because I want to … not because I have to (thus allowing my someday life plan involving my mommy job of fitness instructor extraordinary to come to fruition). I don’t want to give up on my childhood dream of being a “corporate wife” – putting on a formal dress, dazzling his boss … essentially being one of those women my mom always found annoying (but she knew I’d be great at being one of them). I refuse to give up on my Prince Charming (white horse not necessary – but I will take a nice suit) … I keep telling myself he is out there. Somewhere.

Continuing with my sadness … I can’t help but wonder if such a mindset is what has brought me to very much still single at 31 years old. Did Disney brainwash me into thinking that men should always hold the dominant role in a relationship? Or is it because I was raised by a workaholic dad and a stay-at-home mom? Because honestly, looking at my parents’ relationship, and my childhood … it’s exactly the kind of marriage I want for myself, and the kind of childhood I want for my (someday) children.

I’m not a gold digger, and I’m certainly not willing to sacrifice love for money. I do think I’m a pretty strong woman, and I make enough money to support myself and still save for the future, while having fun and enjoying nice things today. That said, I know that I could never be with someone who would allow me to walk all over him. In my early 20s, I was in a relationship where I was the more successful person, and quite honestly, I did look down upon his lack of drive, or ambition, or desire to climb the ladder. It didn’t work because I didn’t respect him – and it was because I felt like he didn’t respect himself.

I know times have changed, and it’s not the 50s anymore. I’m probably angering some feminists by saying this … but I don’t want to marry down. I’m not comfortable being the more successful partner. I don’t want to be the one bringing home the bacon – I want to be the mom who is there to help with homework, or make cookies for the soccer team. Yes, I want to find that man who will view me as the most important part of his life. But, for both of our sake – I also want his successes to go far beyond just being happy with me.

Why I’m doing this …

I think sometimes we got so wrapped up in what we don’t have, that we forget to be grateful for the things we do. We become so focused on how perfect others’ lives seem, that we forget that everything happens for a reason, and there’s a timetable attached to it – and it may not be the same as the “life plan” we’ve set for ourselves. If it did, I’d be living a very, very different life right now.

I’ve recently embarked on year #31, and I’ve decided to try doing  something that I probably should have been doing all along – thinking less about when my life is going to figure itself out. It’s time (probably past time, honestly) that I start spending more time enjoying whatever life throws at me. Because at the end of the day, I may not have everything I want in my life – but what I do have is pretty great.

So there’s my goal for the next year – and hopefully beyond – to live my life, and not compare my haves and have nots to others’, and not to focus so much on what I’ve done so wrong to end up so “behind schedule.” Because I don’t think that it’s so much that I’ve done anything wrong. It may be that I spent so much time looking for what I don’t have that I stopped enjoying what I do have. Or that I spent so much time working that I forgot what it felt like to be living. Or that I’ve been so afraid of “screwing it up” that I’ve held myself back from things that may have left me exposed and vulnerable – but could have been wonderful.

I’ll admit that it scares me to death. I’m a planner. I’d love to know exactly what is going to happen every day for the rest of my life. But I know that’s impossible (How does that quote go? Something along the lines of “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”?) So, yes, I’m scared. Terrified. But I also know that nothing scares me as much as the thought of doing what I’ve been doing, then finding myself looking back 20 years from now, wondering what my life could have been had I stopped worrying about when it was going to work itself out and started enjoying whatever it is that fate throws at me.