You know what my husband is really good at? (Don’t be a perv.) I mean, like, he really excels at this. (Seriously, stop being a perv.) He’s really good at falling asleep. He’s like a high-functioning narcoleptic. Within mere seconds of turning out his light, the man is snoring. Now, me? I have to take a pill, wait an hour (during which time I read until my eyelids become heavy), then turn off the light and lay there. And lay there. And lay there. And I think about all of the things that I should have done, need to do, could have done better, things I said, things I shouldn’t have said, things I should have said better—and then I worry about not being able to fall asleep. And eventually, sleep comes.
Some people can just, like, do things. I have a friend from high school who literally decided to become a sculptor and became one. And he’s no chump sculptor—he’s extremely good. Guitar? No problem. He just went out, bought a guitar and taught himself. I went out and bought a guitar (purple, electric, in honor of Prince), and while I can play Horse With No Name like a motherfucker, I gave it up, because it hurt my finger pads.
I don’t like things that hurt.
My mother is extremely skilled at not trusting the post office. This is one of those things that, over the years, she has perfected, and really honed her skills at. At first, she would mail something and just trust that it would arrive. And then . . . I’m not sure, but I have to assume that one day that thing that was supposed to arrive never did. And now she has PTSD. Over the years, it has morphed from casual calls (“Honey, I sent you something today. Next time we talk, will you let me know if you got it?”) to an extreme tactical operation (“I am sending you a package. I will let you know when it is on its way. The minute it arrives, please release the flock of messenger pigeons that will confirm its arrival, text me, call me, and also send a vial of your blood so that I know it’s really you. Make sure you send it FedEx.”). She’s amazing at a lot of other things, too. Like suddenly she’s a watercolor artist—and she’s becoming too good for us, she’s so talented! But this post office thing? She’s wicked good at that.
Then there’s Rowan. He can spell better than a Harvard graduate. He’s all over it. No word is too hard. He’s also really good at protecting the “girls’ area” in the playground at his school from the boys during recess. (Never mind that he himself is a boy, and so by all rights should also be excluded from the girls’ area.) I can see why he relishes that role. He gets to be near a crowd of girls and allow them their space while at the same time being a part of it. Genius. Oh, and he gets to act like a dragon while he’s doing it, so it’s a win-win.
Luca is really good at talking about poop.
Then, alas, there is me. I’ve spent the last year searching for that thing that I can be really good at. It’s been a year of learning and trying a completely new role professionally, and for most of it, it’s been, er . . . really uncomfortable (Oh! And super fun!). Recently, when a friend asked how I was, I replied, ominously, “different.” And it’s the truest response that I could have given at the time. For the last five months, I have been working full time at a place I love, with people I care about, doing work that has been challenging, but . . . not me. And while I have been hyper-aware of it not being me, I have been judging myself and trying to make it work, trying to adapt. I’ve been waiting to get used to a 50-hour-a-week office job, used to computer work and to doing things that I simply don’t know how to do. And while I am trying to make that work, I’ve been wondering, what is wrong with me that this is so hard? Why can’t I adapt? Why can’t I become this other person? Why can’t I manage stress better? When all along, I should have been asking myself, what is it about me that makes me unable to accept who I am?
Sure, I’m sensitive. I move slowly and need time to process things. I don’t like stress. And yes, I’m not a traditional person that is comfortable with a more traditional profession. I want to connect, and take time with people. I want to engage and offer people a different way of being in the world. I’m comfortable with that. I’m good at that. It’s important to me that the time I spend away from my family is of equal value to the time I spend with my family. And then, with the force of the proverbial smack on the forehead, I realized (yeah, yeah, I’m slow) that I’ve had it all along. That the career I thought I should leave was the career that was a perfect fit for me.
So, now, I surrender. I know who I am. I know what I love and value. I know what I’m good at. I know that, no matter what, at the end of the day, I want to feel satisfied, and I want to feel peaceful. It doesn’t matter what other people want me to be, or what I assume other people value and expect of me. None of that matters. None of that should lead me. And truly, genuinely, I know that I can do anything. I just choose to return to my life as a massage therapist, a mother, a writer, a friend, and a colleague.
I just hope you’ll have me.