I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I am in life and where I am headed, and whether I am ready to make a leap into something new. I’ve been agonizing over finding the right decision, over and over as is my wont. All of sudden on my commute home the other day, though, I had a real moment of clarity: what if there isn’t actually a right answer? Or, more importantly, what if there isn’t actually a wrong answer? I immediately felt a weight lift off my shoulders at the thought. Perhaps, after all is said and done, each path I might choose has potential. Each path has its own validity. And no matter what I choose, I will be okay. I will be okay.
I think perhaps I have tried to “do what’s right” for so long that doing something I want ceased to be a consideration. Or what I “want” became conflated with “wanting to make the right decision.” Either way, what will actually make me feel happy and fulfilled has gotten lost in the shuffle. I cannot explain how revolutionary it is to consider that perhaps there is no one right answer. And now, armed with that insight, I finally feel like I have permission from myself to move forward in a way that will make me happy. I don’t have to feel obligated to check the “right” boxes. Of course, in the abstract I am aware that there isn’t a right or wrong answer for many things. We exist in perpetual shades of grey, where things are often subjective. For some reason, though, it has never really occurred to me that was the case for my life.
It occurs to me that the patriarchy has insidious finger-holds in so much of our societal consciousness. As a woman, we have rarely had the luxury of asking ourselves what we want. And even though, in theory, we have progressed to a point where that is an option, can we really make those choices freely? So much of our self-worth and happiness is tied up in making others feel happy and cared-for. A spouse, children, our aging parents… they have needs we are conditioned to want to meet, and our own needs be damned — or at least, swept under the rug into unobtrusive invisibility. I’ve decided I don’t want my desires to be forced into invisibility any longer.
I am incredibly lucky to have good people around me — people I love and trust and can rely on. Maybe it is time to release the vise-grip I feel like I have to maintain on my image, the way I want people to see me, and the way I feel like my narrative should unfold? Part of my fear in choosing wrong is that I will be judged, or seen as wanting somehow. That not choosing correctly equals failure. But then, so what? No matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise, I truly have no control over how people see me, feel about me, or whether they will judge me. Nor can I possibly please everyone.
So, as we embark on a new year, I am thinking a lot. I am beginning to plan ways I might like to move forward with me in mind. Not what I feel I should do, not what I think I have to keep doing, but what will fulfill me. It is a strange feeling, I have to admit. I feel selfish (I’m not) and perhaps a little bit adrift. I’m going to try to move through that discomfort to a place of discovery, though, and I’m looking forward to the ride. See you on the other side.