Life likes to tease you, give you hope, bring you down, throw challenges at you, tempt you, give you happiness, open doors, throw roadblocks in your way. It seems like it relentlessly does these things again and again. We just have to learn to move forward, to leave the past behind, to push on, to start anew. Whether we have the courage to or not, whether it’s easy or hard, whether we are ready or not, we must, we must.
And if I go
While you’re still here…
Know that I live on
Vibrating to a different measure
Behind a veil you cannot see through.
You will not see me,
so you must have faith,
I wait for the time when we can soar together again
both aware of each other,
Until then, live life to its fullest!
When you need me, just whisper
my name in your heart…
I will be there.
– Colleen Cora Hitchcock
Today, I chatted with two former co-workers from my old work place. One of them is based at the institution I work at and the other was observing her for the day. It was good to catch up and talk about new office dynamics and life in general. At one point in the conversation, we started talking about going out/staying out late with friends and our parents. I shared that I wanted to go to a wedding for a friend this weekend but it was about an hour and a half drive south and thus I was planning to spend the night. My mom had some reservations about this and advised me not to go. She started lecturing me about the dangers of being a female and having to be security conscious of your surroundings and the situations you put yourself in.
I asked the coworkers what their opinions were and if they thought I should just go against her wishes and just go. They asked if I thought the long-term benefits would outweigh the short-term cost and what the consequences would be. I told them I thought the long-term benefits would outweigh the cost in that by explicitly going against my mother’s wishes, I would be taking a stand and sending the message that I was doing what I wanted to do for myself as an adult. I shared how the weekend before, my mom had asked me if I was available that weekend to babysit because she and my dad would be busy and how we my mom, dad, and I had gotten to this point – basically because on the weekends, I would go out and do what I wanted to do, whether that was shopping, working out, or just hanging out with friends. They knew they could not count on me to be free and available.
I further expressed my feelings of having to physically remove myself from my household for my parents to realize that I was an adult who could take care of herself and make her own decisions and not a child anymore. This turned into a conversation about curfews and the two confided that their own mothers were just as overprotective, just as nagging, and just as guilt-tripping. One of the coworkers said this was her year to be selfish and she’s going to do whatever she wants because all throughout college and up until now she has been making decisions based on her family and their desires. She said she realizes that it is kind of sad when one wants to run away from one’s family and feels the way she does but she can’t help it because all of her life she’s been living 1/4 of the life she should have been.
Her words really resonated with me because I understand her and where she is coming from 100%. Sometimes I get frustrated with my parents because they expect that I will always be there and that I can do the things that they cannot (not only for them but for my siblings as well). And yes, I can and I want to but that is so much pressure to put on one individual person. One person should not have to be the keeper of 8. One person should not have to live the lives of 8 other individuals. One person should not have to sacrifice or be able to live only 1/4 of her life for herself especially when she has not consciously made the decision to live that life.
Additionally, good friend has told me before that I need to stand my ground with my parents otherwise they will continue to perceive me as a child. Furthermore, he said I should become comfortable with the reality that I may have to walk away because eventually my family will learn to adapt with my absence and make it in the world somehow. But I care too much and have too large a heart to walk away.
Lately, I have been feeling the frustrations of fighting for my own freedom and respect and it is wearing me down. I am frustrated for having to deal with the consequences of the choices that my parents have made, to be expected to deal with the situations that they have put me in. I believe they truly do care about me and my growth but do not realize that they are holding me back from my real potential. I have been picking and choosing my battles but I don’t want to have to choose; I want to have my freedom, to be able to do. I admitted to my co-workers that I have been avoiding confronting the issue but I realize that by avoiding an issue will never be resolved but I don’t currently possess the courage to fully confront the issue. It was heartening to hear that I was not alone in the frustrations that I have with my parents but disheartening that we have to go through this struggle.
I will go to the wedding this weekend and I know my parents will be furious that I disobeyed but I will deal with that when I come back.
There are many exciting things going on at the moment… or perhaps saying “in the making” would be a better description. I recently transitioned out of my AmeriCorps position into a real, full-time position at a higher education institution. It’s very different – a new environment and a new system to adjust to. In a way, it is exciting because there is this thrill of learning new things and meeting new people but at the same time there is the apprehension of going through something different and new. I am slowly starting to meet more staff and students and hopefully next week after things are set up, I will be able to introduce myself to the departments that I will be working closely with. I have already run into a few students that I know from my AmeriCorps position and it has been exciting.
Something else that is “in the making” are that my future plans are starting to develop and take more shape and form! One of the perks of working at a higher education institution is that you are able to take classes for free or for a reduced cost. It works out well for me that this institution offers graduate programs and even though I won’t be eligible for at least another year, I have already started looking at possible programs, degrees, and certificates and planning out different options.
Another thing in regards to future plans taking shape and form, is that I will be able to start investing in a retirement plan. This, also won’t go into effect until a year after my initial employment, but it is something to look forward to being able to do.
My last “in the making” is my recent membership in an advisory council. This council will be addressing disparity issues that affect communities of color in the state and will be presenting solutions to the legislature in less than 6 months. This is my first time doing anything of this sort but I’m very excited to be able to be a part of this council with so many other great minds and passionate individuals. Just a few days ago I received my official “welcome” letter in the mail a few days ago with details about the group’s first meeting.
I anticipate this next year to be very busy but also full of many new opportunities to network and grow. It is exciting to have my life so full and I feel very blessed to be able to be a part of so many wonderful things. I feel confident that my life’s course will start to take more direction and form this year and in the next few years to come.
Sometimes I think about the situation I am in and the actions I take and how they are influenced and impacted by the actions and decisions my parents have made. I think about parenting and being a parent and about the kind of children I want to raise and the burdens and responsibilities I want/don’t want to place on them. I cannot change the way things are but I can only do my best to improve the way things can be.