What I hate most: Pity. Pity from others; and self-pity.
This isn’t a story about pity. Nor is it a sad story.
It is a story about a life, and a woman who began college in 1968, but still thinks she has a lifetime to live.
Why say when she began college rather than the year she was born? 1968, was probably the greatest of all years to begin college. Not that she’s prejudiced or anything.
It was a year when it wasn’t just OK to be different but great, admirable really. The girls in her dorm either hated her or desperately wanted to be her friend. She ignored them all when she could. The girls in the other dorm seemed much cooler.
Being a shy girl she didn’t approach them but hung out with the boys who did approach her. It was easier. She needed ease for reasons that will become obvious.
She thought she must have been exceptionally lazy though she couldn’t figure out what was lazy about her. She thought she was destined to be one of life’s great f**k-ups because teachers and sometimes even her father, who loved her almost too much, told her so.
This isn’t a story about how she became one of life’s great successes, though that would have been wonderful, and wow did she try.
“Almost there” could be her personal crest; “almost made it,” would have worked too. Anything beginning with “almost.”
But do not pity her as pity is for losers. For people who try but never get anywhere; for people who wallow; for people who haven’t been out in the world having adventures.
“How do you not pity her?” some of you ask perplexed. Those who ask don’t understand one basic rule of life.
Life is complex. Life isn’t filled with happy endings, or even happy middles. Nobody knows what happened after the prince put Cinderella’s lost shoe on her foot. She’s thought about that one since she was a child.
People expect too much. They expect life to work out exactly the way they want it to. They expect other people to cede to their wishes. They expect to have great careers, partners, children, and whatever their version of “success” is.
She’s not immune to that. The Cinderella in her expected everything plus more. Yet another side of her expected nothing. And was beyond pleasantly surprised because so many wonderful things did happen.
Just not in chronological order; just not everything on the xeroxed list almost every girl carried around in her brain. Sometimes things were so far above the list, she cried with delight. Other times life was far below the list. She expected that, and learned early in life to freeze; to not show or feel disappointment, anger or sadness.
Sometimes things were so far above the list, she cried with delight.
Other times life was far below the list. She expected that, and learned early in life to freeze; to not show or feel disappointment, anger or sadness. Life was easier that way.
Much much later in life, she learned to unfreeze.
This is the story of how she arrived at that place.