Early in our marriage, my husband decided to return to school. We lived in several states and spent a year in Germany in pursuit of this, all along with the expectation that he’d land a tenure-track teaching position at a nice college somewhere, we’d become knit into the intellectual and creative community on campus, and eventually we’d send our kids there and they’d benefit from some tuition remission. As a graduate student family we furnished our home with eclectic finds from tag sales. I always said to myself, I’ll wait to buy matching couches when he has that tenure position. I said it so often that eventually these matching couches began to represent much more to me than just being couches – they represented success and stability. I’d repeat that phrase to myself when times were stressful and the future was unknown and like a mantra, just saying it would conjure images of peace and tranquility – represented by a tidy living room set.
Long story short: my expectations never panned out. My husband’s career has never been steady; I’ve had the job and career climb in a surprise twist that neither of us expected. When I took my most recent promotion, it coincided with a move and I suggested we buy a loveseat/couch set. We’d downsized so much in the previous move that we didn’t have enough furniture to spread out in the new place. Our family had grown and in a very practical sense we needed seating for all of us to be able to be in one room together. Probably to everyone else, we were just making a purchase, but to me, I was resigning myself to how our life had turned out in the new “now” and allowing myself to grieve and release all the expectations I had for so many years about what it meant to be successful and happy. It was very emotional and a bit frightening and at times continues to be so.
I think we should pursue our dreams, but know that those dreams are more than their shell – writing a successful novel, getting married, losing weight, buying a home. These dreams come from a place deep within, and it’s important to be mindful about what the outside milestones represent – Peace? Stability? Acceptance? Respect? – and know that you can achieve that personal quest on a path that you hadn’t known existed.
During April, I’m participating in The A to Z Blogging Challenging, blogging 26 days of the month on topics that systematically move through the alphabet. The goal is to develop a more regular blogging habit and network with other bloggers. Join us!