Wednesday, April 29, 2015

                                                THE BALANCING ACT:  MY ADD

                       

     Years ago, in my early thirties, when I decided to stay home with my young children, I began searching for new opportunities to earn a living, learn a new skill and even start a small business. I explored various avenues such as court reporting, becoming an artist’s rep, learning how to play tennis, looking into realtor training, and going back to school to work on a Masters degree. Although my heart was in teaching, I felt that I needed to spend more time with my children, so I was looking for the right balance. The right balance is different for everyone, and no one has the right to judge what that balance is for anyone else.

      A so-called friend made a random comment at that time. He said, “Why are you trying all these different things. You flit from one to another. Why don’t you just settle on something, and do it.” That statement, believe it or not, sent me into a depressive tailspin. I internalized those words and let them intimidate and guilt-trip me into believing that my search for my right balance was somehow wrong. I write this because my reaction was unnecessary and, in retrospect, I should have said, “So who asked for your insensitive opinion, and what gives you the right to judge?” But being an overly polite soul, I said nothing. If I had not explored all of those arenas, people wouldn’t be saying to me over thirty years later, “Wow, you are amazing! You just keep reinventing yourself.” My exploring, unknowingly, provided me with a skill set that has been invaluable during my years as a single mom, a step-mother, a teacher juggling five preps and two teen-agers, and an overly-energetic retiree. 

     Bottom line:  Do not let anyone else judge. No one knows your needs,  frustrations or dreams. Not friends, not acquaintances, not your BFF, no one. We are in charge of our destinies, and it’s hard not to be influenced or affected by others’ careless remarks. I suppose more mature souls would have just flipped the guy off and ignored his comment, but I was overly sensitive to my “what-else-should-I be-doing?” frame of mind. 

     I did take several months of court-reporting lessons and gave it up. I did learn how to play tennis which gave me years of good exercise and camaraderie. I started my own business as an artist’s rep and learned how to “target a market,” how hard it is to run a business by yourself and how I hated asking people to buy things. It took me seven years to earn my Masters degree, but I did it. Once I earned it, I began teaching at the university, and that opened many doors through which I am still walking. 

     I’d like to say these experiences cured me of my over-sensitivity, but that would not be telling the whole truth. I did learn, however, that I have many skills and talents I never knew I had until I took a chance and tried things I had never imagined. The only people who deserve judgment are those who judge others without looking in the mirror.

 (ME: 40 FRIEND: love)