When I was younger, I thought that I whole-heartedly believed in that whole "No matter what you do, be it saving orphans or flipping burgers, be the best at it, and you will be happy."
Wait, you say. You thought you whole-heartedly believed that? Can you be any more flimsy?
Er, no. Probably not. And I have recently vocalized (to myself, at least) exactly why I have been such a jellyfish.
I can't really blame anyone else. I should have seen it coming. I was a precocious child, kicked everyone's ass when it came to grades, passed for 5 years younger until I opened my mouth. (My dad was always saying to me, "Keep your mouth shut and you can order off the children's menu.") However, I also trusted others' authority 100%. (Until later. Trust me, that is a disaster best saved for another story.) Sure, those of you who know me now know that I question "experts" all the time, especially those who like to tell me what is "best" for me. Growing up, though, I thought that my family was just like the perfect television family (until my parents split when I was nine years old, I was practically the only kid I knew with two biological parents, still married, at home) and that what they told me was 100% accurate. It may have been. But if you know even basic facts about psychology, you know that kids often learn more from observing than direct instruction. And somehow, I learned that making people happy would ensure that they liked me and therefore make me happy, no matter what I had to do to earn that. So through years of high school, college, my early 20's...that is what I did. When I felt like just being me wasn't good enough, I tried very hard to be "different" (you know, that elusive "different" that is really just another misguided youth trying to one-up her friends to "win" for the week, or the night, or eventually, forever. So hooray, now I have an ugly tattoo on my back, among other things.) Not once did I stop to wonder if everything I was doing really made me happy. And this continued, for years and years, until a guy (I will be nice and not say "an asshole." Oops.) I was dating broke up with me and I spent about two weeks in bed. I finally realized that I was nothing but a dying fish, flopping aimlessly, trying to hold on and let go at the same time, able to see the much-needed ocean but just unable to reach it. So I moved on. I did a lot of things that got me the eye-rolls, the lectures (still from my mother, and in trying to figure out why, I am sure it has to do with her own mental state, but forgive me if I have more to do now than analyze her actions), the sighs. I went back to school, supposedly to teach, but changed my mind in the end. Did I really, honestly think I would get a great job with my degree? Probably not. I should have gone back for Nutrition and Dietetics, but someone talked me out of that (see? jellyfish) and I ended up studying literature and writing for those 2 years. I figured I would be able to do that elusive "something" with my degree, but the truth was, I just really like going to school. I wish I could have a penny from each person who complained about it. I could be a student for life with that money.
Back to the point. Here I am, nearly 30 years old, and lost. I know only a few things for sure: one, I am unhappy and two, I am not meant to be where I am. So I am trying to make three lists: things I like/love, things I can do well, and things I want to learn more about.
I know many people out there advocate specialization (you know, don't spread yourself too thin...to which I usually stick out my tongue) and that's all well and good. Maybe I resist the idea of sticking to one thing because so far, I feel like the only thing I have been able to specialize in, is being a jellyfish (spineless, yet stinging). And that is just about the last thing I want to specialize in, above only a few things, such as flipping burgers (no offense, but I'm vegetarian) and allopathic medicine. Yikes.
[image: Ann Taylor]Ann Taylor is having a big sitewide sale, but it’s coming to an end tonight!…