I’m half way through Goldfinch and feeling a little discouraged and sad about life. The husband calls it the Felicity effect in that when I was marathoning the show all I wanted to do was eat cereal.
The grouchiness made me search out Elder Holland’s recent conference talk called “Are We Not All Beggars?”. May I say that I am the worst at accepting help. Ask me for a ride ever? The answer will almost certainly be no. Help me with my groceries? ‘That’s okay, I got this’. Clean my house for me? Buy me dinner? ‘Um, why is my house dirty in this imaginary scenario’ and ‘that’s so sweet to offer, but no’.
I’d like to blame the majority on this personality trait on my mom who once refused a ride from a stranger after severely twisting her ankle and limping a mile back home. But the pride is all me, man. And in refusing to be the kind of person that needs help, I wonder how often I overlook opportunities to extend help.
This made me think of the absolutely amazing and kind folks in my life. These people have an ease for kindness. They extend themselves without any kind of trumpet or flair. A couple of years ago, I was in a weird mood and saw my friend in the parking lot. I ranted to her for, like, twenty minutes and felt immediately better. The next day, I looked on my doorstep to see a bag of homemade cookies. I can not express how moved I was by that simple and sweet gesture.
I took a picture of it because I wanted to remember that on that day I was seen, that someone without any provocation whatsoever cared enough about me to tell me that they noticed me, that I wasn’t alone. Can I say if I’ve been that to someone? I hope I have.
I read this article today about “New York essays” which prompted me to read Joan Didion’s “Goodbye to All That”. My Didion interest is only a couple of years old (I know!). I immediately fell in love with The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights. Last year, Lena Dunham talked with Alec Baldwin about the biggest dream from her “pretentious private school” upbringing would have been to become Joan Didion.
Elementary school was a time of voracious reading for me. Writing, too. I would make up stories with Friend messages and read them to my family for FHE. It was also elementary school when I submitted one of my stories to this school district thing. The stories were compiled into a book of sorts and we got to skip school for a day and attend these workshops with actual published authors (several of which warned that there was no money in children’s literature).
But I think I also chose my career field when I was in elementary school. Although, I secretly hoped I would be Jo March from Little Women, I told my family I wanted to go to Harvard, be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company and ship my kids off to boarding school. I had no clue what a CEO of a Fortune 500 company did, but it sounded important and I knew that it would mean I was the boss.
Then in high school, I decided I wanted to be a financial planner. Although the last year of college made it very clear that was not in the cards for me, I finished with a finance degree and became an accountant. Almost ten years later and I’m still a little surprised about how I got here. I wonder what would have happened if I had been a little dreamier, braver. If I had paid more attention to my writing than to spreadsheets and financial ratios.
I’m not sad to see that my life isn’t how I thought it would be. My struggle is the feeling like I’m not so confident about where it’s going. I can’t see a clear path anymore. I don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up. Maybe the answer will be somewhere in these new habits I’m trying out. Although, if I could start over, I’d shoot for Didion.
I am often confronted with the very real lack of who I would like to be. The person I aspire to looks a little like me. She has shinier hair and flawless skin. She never trips over her words and always says the right thing at the right time. She is brave and confident. She is kind and empathetic to others. She extends herself to those in need and doesn’t feel deprived of anything. She is a taller me, both physically and emotionally.
The reality though, the real me is not like that. I try. I fail. I don’t mind most of the time in my failings, the trying is usually enough. When I watched the General Women’s Meeting yesterday, I was so happy, relieved even, to be reminded that the real me is okay. The me that I am, the me that I would like to be.
I was really moved by Sister Neil F. Marriott’s talk. She talked about strengthening our faith, being the kind of person that pushes away the darkness and being a person of truth and light. I was inspired enough to see that person so clearly. She is still not quite the real me, but I feel her closely. I feel that each day I can be more and more like her until I am her or that she is me.
Check out this video on Mormon Messages: You Never Know