A couple of people have recently made comments that cut to the bone, in the way that only truth can.
As I was telling them about my new career path, in the hopes of garnering their support, they instead made comments to the effect of, “Let’s be honest, this is just what you want to be this week.”
In one instance there was still an underlying support and enthusiasm – not for my choice of career, but for me. There was a “This is why we love you, you’re always moving.”
In the other instance, it felt like a way to dismiss me, to write me off. “Why get excited, you’ll just change your mind/career/life in a couple weeks anyway.”
It wasn’t just dismissive of my career choice, it was also dismissive of me.
In that second instance, there was an implication that the way I was living was wrong. That my choice to not stay in a career after it stopped being what I thought it would be, or after I had gotten out of it what I was looking for – my choice to keep moving, somehow made me unworthy of this person’s time, consideration or approval.
In their eyes I was a failure, and it was time for some tough love.
For the record – yes – I’ve gone through a lot of changes in the last 34ish years.
I subscribe to the “Fail Fast” method of learning and life.
I’ve never been on a straight or narrow path.
I believe dearly in the Buddhist idea of impermanence, in the idea that the person who woke up on my side of the bed this morning is not the same person who fell asleep there last night, nor the same person who will put her head down on that pillow tonight.
We are always growing, changing, metamorphosing… We are, each day, becoming.
Which is not to say that we wake up each day as a fresh, blank slate.
No, we get the benefit of our experiences, our lessons, our accumulated knowledge and wisdom. Each day is a chance to improve in some way on what came before, to tweak the formula, to shake out the cobwebs, to avoid a familiar obstacle.
Each day takes us closer to living a life that makes our hearts sing. (Well, let’s be honest, not EVERY day – some days blow us completely the opposite direction, but we learn from those too.)
A while ago I was talking with a friend about the difference between geeks and hipsters and saying that geeks emote.
His response was that I must be the biggest geek in the universe because I emote about EVERYTHING.
This has been a lifelong “problem” of mine.
I remember as a child being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up – every day I had a new answer, because every day I learned something new – about the world, about myself, about the possibilities that existed.
I was so envious of people who KNEW, who gave the same answer every time. I watched them chart their courses with certainty and conviction, lining up the steps they needed to take to reach their goals and checking them off one by one.
When I was about 10 I broke down in tears. I told my parents that I was scared to grow up because I didn’t have a passion. I didn’t KNOW what I wanted to be.
They laughed, hugged me, and said, “Baby, that’s not true at all. If anything you have TOO MUCH passion.”
The trick seemed to be finding a way to channel all that passion into just one thing.
I was just on the phone with my husband, who understands me better than I understand myself some days. He reminded me that that may be the American Ideal, but it’s not the only way to succeed.
Go to school, get a degree in a field, work in that field for 40+ years, retire.
Do one thing. Keep doing it. Get old. Quit. And then, start enjoying the life you “earned”.
“That’s not you.” He said.
He reminded me that I’m a firestarter, a rabble-rouser, a ranty pants. Those are my strengths, my super powers.
My zen rests in motion.
I’m less City Slickers “Find your one thing”
and more Better Off Dead “Go that way, real fast. When something gets in your way, turn.”.
So, yes, my path is windy – and bumpy – and it has switch backs and U-turns and dead ends and the occasional long stretch of open highway. But even that twists and winds along a cliff edge.
Love me for it, leave me for it – it’s my life, it’s who I am.
Right now, I’m trying to look both forward to what I want, and backward at what I’ve already achieved. I’m trying to pull all the scattered pieces together to see what I’m working with, and how I can use it to get what I’m working for.
In a recent conversation with my mom, I gushed, “Mom, I growing up, I just had no idea some of the things I could do and be when I grew up! I was so limited in my world view. I didn’t know I could make a living talking about sex…”
See, I came of age just as Abstinence Only sex-education was taking over the airwaves. The only way to make a living talking about sex was to demonize it and make people feel uncomfortable and ashamed of a perfectly natural part of their lives.
That wasn’t me – I wanted the opposite.
I wanted everyone to be knowledgeable and feel comfortable with themselves. I wanted everyone to be able to communicate with their partners and find enjoyment together.
I wanted people to know that sex doesn’t equal love, and love doesn’t have to include sex, but that sex can be a wonderful part of love.
I wanted people to know that it’s supposed to feel good, and it if doesn’t its time to pull back and talk about it and change it up until it does feel good. I wanted people to know that what feels good to one person won’t feel good to everyone, so you HAVE to talk, you have to ask questions, you have to pay attention to your partner’s cues. I wanted people to know that what felt good last night, might not feel good today, so even after you think you know someone inside and out, you still have to keep talking, keep questioning, keep paying attention…
I wanted people to know that consent is sexy. That consent means saying yes! Enthusiastically, unabashedly, YES! And so I wanted to empower people to say yes, not just no.
But I didn’t know, or believe, that I could really do all of that.
Then I read a quote that was going around.
“What would you do if you knew you would not fail?”
It stilled me.
I froze, while my lungs filled, my mind quieted and my heart expanded.
If I was not afraid to fail, I would change the world!
I would help people love, accept and value others.
I would work to normalize sex (not to make all sex vanilla – but to make sex not a taboo subject), to promote healthy body images, healthy relationships, healthy communication, respect for ALL people…
I would work to break down the social barriers that prevent so many people from accepting their own sexuality, from seeking help when they need it, from talking with others and learning from them, from accepting others who are different…
I would work to educate parents so they felt more comfortable talking with their children. So many parents I know tell me they’d like to talk to their kids, but they don’t know how because no one ever talked to them. Where do they start? WHEN do they start? HOW do they start!?!
I would work with teachers and administrators so that they felt comfortable talking with the children and youth they serve about the issues affecting them.
I would work with adults who were trying to form or maintain healthy relationships to give them more tools to talk and communicate so that they could give and receive pleasure and enjoyment together.
I would work to make it so that when my daughters grow up, the partners they have will be as informed as they are about bodily autonomy, respect, pleasure and the wonderful workings of the human body.
Is this my forever path?
I still want to be a writer.
I still want to be a senator.
I still want to be an explorer.
I will forever be a dreamer.
If that means you can’t support me now, because I WILL change my mind again, I understand.
We all come at life a different way.
Right now, this way feels right for me. It takes the lessons I’ve learned, the skills I’ve earned and the passions I live and breathe and puts them together into one package. It moves me forward in a direction that hopefully brings me and the world I live in into closer alignment.
It feeds my soul.
If that changes, or if something gets in my way – I’ll turn.