I’ve sort of had this lifelong habit of being a few steps ahead of everybody else…
- I got married the first time at 16 (I know – crazy!). While all my friends were dating, going to football games and dances, trying out who they wanted to be when they grew up, my biggest concerns were what to fix for supper and how to pay the rent.
- I had my daughter when I was barely 20. Everyone my age was in college full time, still figuring out their path – mine was pretty securely set.
- When my nest emptied, I wasn’t even 40. Once again, women my age were just starting to raise kids and were focused completely on all the wonderment of child-rearing. I was starting my cat collection.
- Now, as I approach 50, I’ve once again jumped ahead of the curve by taking an early retirement. While I’m infinitely grateful to have been able to do that and to now have the time and resources to do all the things I wished I’d had time for earlier in life… I’m still finding myself a few steps off-kilter. My friends are either busy with (and interested in/excited about) their own careers or they’re very focused on the big events in the maturing lives of their kids (finishing high school, choosing a college, getting married, picking a path).
It’s tended to leave me with little to add to the conversation.
Of course, there’s a whole school of thought that suggests “different” is exactly the way we should be; that “fitting in” just means conforming to someone else’s idea of how the world looks vs. being the unique human you are.
I think the trick is figuring out what’s wonderful and unique about ourselves vs. comparing; which, of course, is the hard part – the part that needs a whole lot of work right now – the part that sometimes makes is hard for me to come here and talk to you.
Several weeks ago, there was a whole group of bloggers who participated in a “things I’m afraid to tell you” tell-all. It grew so big, Huffington Post even ran a feature on it. To be truthful, the whole conversation sort of irritated me. I wondered if they’d all made a conscious decision at some point to withhold the truth and now were coming clean? To everyone’s delight and acclaim? Really??
Of course, there’s always been sort of a running debate in the blogosphere over telling the bitter truth vs. keeping your dirty laundry to yourself and I’ll admit to having been in the latter camp for most of the time I’ve been blogging. Mostly because people I actually know in the “real world” read this blog on occasion and might be astounded at the not-so-pretty things going on inside my weird little head… but, it’s never been that I was afraid to tell – I just sort of doubted anyone would really want to hear it.
I’m not sure exactly what changed my heart on this subject today. Maybe it’s just one of those weird moods that hit me every now and then… maybe it’s that feeling of apartness that’s been eating at me… and the hope that somebody out there can relate.