Sometimes in order to understand yourself better, you have to distance yourself with time, perspective, and brutal honesty. Turn the camera back on you and ask yourself,
“Why did I ________________________?”
The answers are not always flattering. In fact, this is another blog entry that has me quaking in my boots to hit publish on, because it doesn’t paint me in the best light. While the results on my life were often amazing, my reasons for doing what I did were often less-than-noble. I can only hope that you can relate to some of these, or that you can at least respect me for sharing some of my embarrassing thought processes.
Ready for the unvarnished truth?
Why did I ____________?”
- Play the clarinet in high school band—It was very similar to the recorder, which was our “practice” instrument in 6th grade, and I was good at that. Learning a different technique seemed too hard, although most of the other instruments looked way more interesting. Also, my sister already played the flute and I didn’t want to copy her, and the clarinet was the second-easiest instrument to haul back and forth from school.
- Get a degree in Scientific and Technical Communication—It was cheap for me to go to Michigan Tech because it was local and gave me a pretty good scholarship, so I looked through the course catalog and picked the program that I was most interested in from the list of options. (I secretly wanted to go to Harvey Mudd College in California but it felt too out of my reach.) Then, as the years progressed, it seemed like too much of a hassle to change majors, schools, or tack on more years to my studies, so I kept at it and graduated in 4 years.
- Join Peace Corps—I partly wanted to get away from graphic design and computer work (ironic, right? I ended up teaching computer classes in Armenia!), and I also wanted a challenge in a completely different culture with a completely different language that would stretch me in ways that studying abroad in Australia could never do (Australia was a good but slightly disappointing experience). I also wanted to be part of a program that would take care of all the logistics for me: buy my plane ticket, teach me the language, find me housing, connect me with like-minded people (other Peace Corps volunteers), and not make me pay to be part of it. (Many volunteer programs make you pay to join. Peace Corps doesn’t—in fact they give you a living allowance.)
- Never learn to play the piano—Most young girls I knew who did know how to play were asked to take a turn playing the organ in church or at Sunday School. I didn’t want to inadvertently volunteer myself by knowing how to play.
- Get all A’s in school—School was easy for me at first, so with minimal effort, I got good grades. But then people started assuming I would get all A’s and the pressure was on. I worked really hard in high school to maintain my 4.0 GPA. There were many nights spent crying over homework, especially Chemistry and Hamlet.
- Never cook dried kidney beans—I understand that all you have to do is soak them overnight and rinse them really well. But for whatever reason, that has always felt complicated and risky because I have heard that if you don’t rinse them thoroughly they can kill you. I don’t want to die.
- Take violin lessons for so long—We (my sister and I) had group lessons and orchestra practice on Wednesdays with our grandma. Afterwards, she would often treat us to dinner at a restaurant.
- Always feel uncomfortable bowling—In middle and high school, I wasn’t allowed to take the bowling portion of gym class, because all the bowling alleys our class went to were in bars. So even if my friends wanted to go to a non-bar bowling alley for fun, I had no idea what I was doing, and felt stupid being “on stage” when it was my turn to bowl. That feeling has never quite gone away.
- Not get married in my early 20’s—I have 12 younger siblings and felt like most of my teens were spent babysitting and helping to take care of them. Many of my friends got married young and started families right away, but I had no desire to start having babies of my own so soon after moving out and being free of mom-like chores.
- Edit and publish this particular blog entry—because today I didn’t have another idea for a post, and this draft was already started. So even though I feel really weird about you reading this, it’s Thursday and I have to publish something.
(Geez, I can’t believe how revealing this one feels to me! I’d appreciate feedback. Did you think this one was over the top? Too much information? Interesting? Are you with me? Are you human, too?)
I’m trying to take my own advice today, “Be unique, be authentic, be yourself.”
Also weirdly, after reading this over again, it seems pretty lame. Now I’m confused.
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