Mama, I’ll just address the obvious: my most recent absence has been ridiculously long. There are SO MANY things that happened during the summer of 2013. Yeah, we talked about some of it on the phone, but of course it was only the biggest bits of news. I’m gonna give you a photo for all the things, so you can at least have scenery for this romp through your daughter’s drama.
My NEMO Spring: What I Dared To Do
It all started when I went to North Carolina in May. After that trip, I ventured back to Montreal in July. It was a thing I had wanted to do since the first fleeting visit in October 2011. Visiting Montreal is as close as I have ever come to actual international travel. I got the chance to visit at a crazy low cost, and I snatched it like I was playing that amazingly competitive kids game, “Steal The Bacon.”
What do you want?
This summer was easy compared to the summers of 2007, 2009 and 2010. I spent this summer searching, justifying, unemployed, discovering, defiant, and loved. Again, I tried to pinpoint my hopes, dreams and life goals. I got this far: I want to not struggle. I want to be valued, not as a possession but as a contributor. And for the first time, I can name my own value to others with confidence and conviction.
But to answer that loaded question, “what do you want?” is more difficult. I think it’s super hard for those of us who constantly find ourselves tossed into the “unique” bucket.
Unique is good in 2 places: The Circus and The Morgue
Unique is what people call things they can’t figure out. And there are only 2 times people want to be transfixed in that way.
The First is when you are an entertainer at the circus (or whatever). Do something over and above linking those big golden rings or twirl around on those bed sheet sized ribbons, and you’re worth the price of admission.
The Second is when you are rolled on a slab through the medical examiner’s lab. He wants you to be the first supernatural being he sees, the (highly moral) vampire, the (gentle) werewolf, the (not hungry) zombie…something to make his job less boring. He wants you to have died of something completely uncharted, something he can tag with his name and become immortalized in medical journals as “the Father of the cure for” whatever syndrome or disease.
Those are the two times when being truly unique (not especially quirky or funny or entertaining or the rich kind of eccentric) are an asset. Otherwise, when they call you unique, it’s a nice way of saying you’re “in the way.” Like a cowlick on your hairline.
You’ll be amazing somewhere else
You know how it goes when you’ve been tossed out into the deep end of the pool and you’re flopping around trying to touch some solid edge, something to save you from dunking below the surface and sinking to your doom. Oh, you don’t? We did that in swim class. But I feel that’s what unemployment is like. All you need is OUT and it doesn’t matter that you were swimming till you got there – the point is GET OUT.
Some folks like to be the one dropping you into the pool, and in their mind they are “helping you swim.” They say things that amount to “you have an amazing future of amazing incredibleness…somewhere else…and I have no idea how or where or when you’ll find it” But the result is that you’ve been rejected from the life-saving edge of the pool.
Sure, you end up swimming eventually (for which they take credit). After fighting for your life, you either die or live. Does it matter whether you cut through the water with a machine-like butterfly stroke, or if you just float and flop your way to the edge? NOPE. You are living. You are breathing. You’ve achieved.
Success is for you, not for them
So I explained all that to say that this summer I didn’t figure out what I want. This fall, I did.
I found work. This time, I actually may have swum. I mean, I did my fair share of flopping and floating, of course. But I think I had a destination, I kicked and pushed water behind me, and got there. I’m proud of me for that. In the process, I realized what I want. I know what means success to me now.
You don’t know it but I stopped writing RIGHT HERE for about 2 weeks. What I realized this fall is that WHAT I WANT IS A SHIFTING, CHANGING, LIVING THING. In 2 years, I might want a completely different thing. Because I’m not a lifer. I’m not a long-term-er. I’m just not made to wait for things to turn out ok.
I’m made to grab clumps of life at a time and make a big mess and enjoy the crap out of it. I finally realized that success, for me, has nothing to do with ascending the ranks of power to out-perform my peers (just in case they are jealously watching which in this scenario I’m sure I’ll hope they are).
Success in my life is, simply put, enjoying life. I want to look back upon each and every year and want to tell people about it. I never want to look at my life at the end of the year again and say “that was a complete waste.” If I get 5 of those in a row, I think that will have kept me busy for around 20 years. Not a bad long term goal, right?