Hard to Admit
Lately have I not only been failing, but I’ve been failing with apparent epic resolve. I mean, when I make up my mind to do something, I’m really going to do it, you know?
Friday night we attended that military holiday party. It was warm and decadent and a lot of people went to a lot of trouble to make sure we had a good time – which I did, thanks in large part to the 3 complimentary vodka collins’ I consumed during dinner. I was smiley and sociable with some very accomplished and genuinely interesting people. I even won a Kindle as a door prize, and I didn’t even trip when I made my way to the front of the ballroom to graciously accept the gift. All-in-all, I held it together.
So why do I feel like I failed? Maybe because even after all of the mingling and smiling and networking, I still didn’t really feel like I fit in. I wasn’t the perfect military spouse winning points for her husband by charming his superiors and singing his praises. I didn’t have to run off every 5 minutes to check on our kids in the daycare room and then regale everyone at the dinner table with tales of their latest naughty-yet-adorable escapade. I didn’t bond with the other spouses by complaining about how hard it is when he deploys. Hell, I deployed myself not too long ago.
It’s not like these things are requirements for Justin to succeed at his job. Trust me, he doesn’t need my help when it comes to doing well in the military – but me having the drive to do those things certainly wouldn’t hurt. Could I really be jealous that he’s got it figured out and I’m still floundering? That it seems like the only way I can measure my own accomplishments anymore is by being a cheerleader and pillar of support for his advancement? It’s not true, but it’s how I’ve let myself start to think over the past five years.
It’s not easy for me to write this and then post it out there for everyone to see. It’s an admission of weakness, and the person I set out to become after high school graduation wouldn’t have allowed herself such a mediocre performance.
Somewhere along the way I lost sight of the girl who ventured from her home in Nebraska to attend a challenging little liberal arts college in the wondrous and as-of-then uncharted land of Ohio; the girl who quit school her sophomore year and moved back to Nebraska in an (apparently unsuccessful) attempt to bandage the bleeding wounds of her family; who served bottomless soup and salad to ladies who lunched during the day and bottomless pints of draft to men who drank at night to fund a month-long road trip through America’s western mountains and deserts; who ate warm Nutella crepes in freezing rain at the base of the Eiffel Tower; who followed a boy to Georgia and finished a degree with honors in Environmental Geoscience (whatever that is) with big plans to travel and not only change the world, but to change it but good.
Losing sight of the person we were in our youth is something that’s supposed to happen to other people – blissfully content stay-at-home moms, successful career people, and cheesy narrators of wistful indie films. Not me.
Which is probably why I quit my job to live in Costa Rica. I wanted that feeling back. But I failed – am failing – because there’s something I just don’t seem to be getting. I’ve taken baby steps towards change, rolled the boulder to the top of the damn mountain, but I can’t figure out where I’m supposed to go from here. I kept hoping that dream job – that one inspirational idea – would slap me in the face and all would be right with the world.
But waiting for a sign is foolish. It’s lazy. Apparently I’m going to have to work for the things I want in this life, just like everyone else. But what if I spend all this time making a decision, following it to accomplish my goals, and then it turns out to be the wrong choice? I guess that’s life. And there it is, the ultimate and unavoidable cliché. We try something and see if it works. And if it doesn’t, then I guess we adjust and try again.
So right now I’m failing. I’m failing because I only went halfway with my resolve to fix my job situation. It’s time to embrace the fail, kiss it goodbye, push the boulder off the top of the mountain and see where it lands. Ready or not résumé, here I come.