If only I had realized a long time ago that I didn’t have to agree with people to be loved. I wish I could have had a different opinion without apologizing for my belief. Mostly, I wish I lived the life I’d wanted to live without changing my course or sacrificing a belief because of what someone else might say. The tragedy in living your life to satisfy other peoples’ standards is you forget what mattered to you in the first place. The greater tragedy is realizing you have no idea where to find your answers and you only have yourself to blame.
One of the reasons I started this project is because at 48, I’ve been so busy being a mother and a wife, I don’t know what I want out of life. I’ve done many of the things I’ve set out to do. I taught for 20 years and I loved it, but with Common Core and the lack of creativity allowed in the classroom, teaching is no longer my passion. I know enough about life to know if one is not passionate about their work, one shouldn’t do it. I’m still passionate about what teaching used to be, but I’m not passionate about what it’s become. Teaching is no longer teaching, it’s training.
I have four amazing children. After my first child I was told there could be no more. Life proved the doctors wrong, and raising these precious gifts has been my greatest source of pride and joy. Funny thing about kids though, they grow up and don’t need you like they used to, so I moved on to my next venture, writing. I accomplished my goal of being traditionally published, and I’m still working on more projects, but it’s not enough, or is it? I’ve been so busy measuring myself against other people’s yardsticks, I stopped identifying what I want. In making sure I’m doing “the right thing” and pursuing goals I thought I should be pursuing, I traded self-acceptance for other peoples’ measure of my worth.
I do not regret teaching or being a parent, far from it. Those two endeavors have brought me more riches than I can measure and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I can say that in hindsight, but when I started those endeavors, it wasn’t because of any burning desire. I did them because I thought I was supposed to do them. It was like I’d jumped on a cart attached to a track with the words, “how to be the woman other people will love” burned into it. There was never a thought about whether or not I wanted this path, I never had a plan. I jumped on because it was the life I thought I was supposed to lead.
Now I have choices, but I have no idea what they should be because I’ve spent my life developing other people, not myself. And so at 48, I find myself with the daunting task of figuring out what the hell I want to be when I grow up. It’s a good problem to have. I am aware of how blessed I am to have the opportunity to jump off life’s treadmill and seek happiness. I am blessed to be in good health and have these options, but like anything else in life, they come with responsibility. I have this gift and I don’t want to squander it.
Writing my manifesto, identifying my core beliefs and principles, has helped me to weed out the things I don’t want for my life, and it’s helped me identify things my life must include. It’s not the same as knowing what I want to do, but it’s a start. I’m going to take this time I’ve been granted to identify my strengths, leave myself open to the messages life brings, pray, and let the energy of the universe guide me. Perhaps I’m where I should be. I know I find my greatest happiness, feel the most positive, and find the most abundance when I serve others, but rather than going about life blindly, I want to choose.
I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I do know whatever it is, I will do it on my terms. I will not worry what others might think, and I will find my worth from within myself. I may not have all of my answers, but I’m figuring out what matters and defining my path. Hindsight may be 20/20, but it’s time to find out what foresight might bring if I live my life on purpose.