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[livejournal.com profile] bkwrrm_tx asked me -- What one piece of advice would you give to a friend?

Not that I think I have all the answers, but if I had to pick one thing it would be this:

Live the life YOU want to live. Be the person YOU want to be.

In a lot of ways, children GET that. Kids are completely ego-driven. If you've ever had to babysit a hyper 6 year old, you know that its all about them. What they want to do, what they want to eat, when they want to sleep (if at all).

And then kids get older, and they are spoon-fed this myth that the key to happiness lies in becoming whatever society deems happiness to be. Its pushed on us by the media: "Beef: its what's for dinner" or "Don't get mad - get GLAD". Make no mistake, the art of advertising is its ability to impress upon you that your otherwise mediocre life will suddenly become better if you just fork out the cash for the latest and greatest product. (In a way, I kinda admire the people who work in advertising. Its really a gift to be able to sell something in 30 seconds or less. But I digress...)

But we cant lay the blame solely on the big bad Media, despite what the Tipper Gores and Sarah Palins of the world like to think.

The Great Myth is sold to us by the people we trust the most: parents. Stay in school; get good grades; go to a decent college; major in a solid, marketable field like accounting....and you too can have the white picket fence American Dream just like we have. Sorry Billy, I know you hate math and are a naturally gifted artist. But the life of an Artist wont support your wife and 2.5 children that you'll have. And Susie, you cant be a lesbian feminist activist...how will you give your parents grandchildren if you're like that?

Its no wonder kids are so fucked up today. They are constantly bombarded with conflicting messages. You can be anything you want to be - as long as you arent gay. Everyone's a winner - except those people who arent like us. My parents had my whole life planned for me before I even really knew I had much say in the matter. I was going to go to college, get a Nursing degree, marry a Doctor and quit working to raise his children. From then on my life was to be a whirlwind of PTA meetings, bake sales and summer vacations by the lake. It was a neat, tidy little plan that I had drilled into my head from a very early age.

Except I hated baking. And I suck at math. And I didnt want to be a nurse. As soon as my mother figured out that I didnt have the skills or the desire to embrace the Doris Day Utopia she had dreamed up for me, the resentment began. I was too fat, too ugly, too stupid, I would never make a good wife, etc.

When I did express the things I wanted to do, the things I wanted to be? I was met with harsh criticism and not an ounce of support. If I regret anything about my younger years, I regret that I wasted so much time trying to strike up some fucked up compromise in an effort to make other people happy with me. Nothing I ever did was good enough or successful enough to earn their blessings. I suspect nothing short of walking on water would have pleased them - and even then I'd probably be criticized for how I walked!

Oh sure, I did make my own decisions and I chose to get married to a man with 2 children. I had my stealthy tattoos and my quiet, mostly-closeted Paganism. It took looking hard at everything wrong in my life 10 years into that marriage to realize that I was not being true to myself. That I had probably never really been true to myself, not 100%. There are a LOT of reasons my marriage failed: things I did wrong, things he did wrong, things the kids did wrong. And I know my Ex will probably never understand that ultimately the decision to leave was because I simply was not true to myself. I had sacrificed myself in the hopes that would make him and his kids happy. In the end, I was miserable, they were miserable and there was nothing I could do to ever fix that.

The one thing I could fix? ME.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the whole White Picket Fence Dream. If that's your dream, go for it. But if your life's dream is to run away and be a Circus Clown, then by golly go do it. You may not be the most famous clown in history, you probably wont be wealthy, but at least you'll be living life on YOUR terms.

I'm with Jared because I WANT to be. I'm in Texas because I WANT to be here. I work at a job that is well, well below my skill level because it allows me to focus more on the things that make me happy. My friends, my home life, being openly Pagan...hell just being open. I chose to be/do those things because it brings ME joy. If it makes other people happy, so be it but I am not really invested in other people's joy the way I used to be.

Its not fair to me or anyone who has to put up with me when I am not living honestly. Living the lie hasnt gotten me rich or famous; it hasnt given me any of the things the TV jingles said I'd have and it hasnt gotten me any of the shit my mother said it would.

So I live as open and true to myself as I can be. I'll probably never be a "success" in whatever means my mother (or society) deems success to be, but I'll bet when I am laying on my deathbed I wont be saying "I wish I had done what I wanted with my life."

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dydan

November 2012

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