It’s got me thinking about who I am, who I want to be and the person I think other people expect me to be. Then I came across this piece by Elizabeth Wurtzel. It’s reminder of priorities and how everything costs something.
Maybe I should have been wiser. But the only way I could have was to have been a completely different person, along the way probably becoming a different writer, most likely a lousy one. I am fortunate to have been well paid for an almost pathological honesty, and the only way I am able to write that way is by being that way … I don’t pretend to like people I don’t and I can’t pretend to respect people who don’t deserve it.
In some ways, this is also my fundamental flaw. I cannot care about things I do not care about. I knew that I was not cut out for corporate culture ten years ago about 6 months into working for a Fortune 100 company. I loved my boss and coworkers. They remain some of the dearest people I know. I was paid exceptionally well. But I couldn’t drink the company Kool-Aid and I wasn’t good at carrying a glass around the party for appearances. It’s not that I look down on people who do. I admire them. I want to be that way. I wish I could become part of something bigger than myself. But something inside me doesn’t let me.
So I’ve tried working in different kinds of settings: smaller, more creative, more structured, less structures, part-time, full-time, corporate, non-profit. I haven’t been truly successful at any of them for a number of reasons. I know that I’m a square peg in a round hole kind of world.
Earlier this week, I was talking to a sweet friend. I told her I’m frustrated with my inability to assimilate. She is wise and knows she cannot stop me from beating up on myself when I’ve decided to. But she asked me to make room for the possibility during this prize fight with my ego that it’s possible the problem isn’t that I suck. It’s possible that I’m using a the wrong criteria to select projects that I will find fulfilling.
She also reminded me that the biggest obstacle I’ve faced in recent years is the primacy of my commitment to my family. I’m perfectly willing to walk away from anything or anyone that creates a conflict of time or attention with the people in this house. It could be argued, she told me, the problem is that I don’t care about things, it’s that the care that I have is overshadowed by my loyalty to my clan.
I’m going to think about that some more. I’m going to think about a lot of things some more. But I’m not feeling like a failure. I’m feeling like I need some new tools. I need a different set of lens and criteria to make decisions. I might even need a nap, some cookies and a glass of champagne for good measure.