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First let me say that I am always planning out my life. Perhaps ‘imagining’ is the right word, instead of ‘planning’. ‘Planning’ connotes actual plans, I suppose, while ‘imagining’ lets me be whomever I please in the confines of my own mind for ten or fifteen seconds. In these constant daydreams, I, like Cinderella, can be whomever I’d like to be (Rogers and Hammerstein? Anyone? Anyone?): someone’s personal assistant in New York, a London local, a bakery owner, a pastor, a wife and full-time mom.
It is this last vision that has swum in and out of my dreams for the last 5 years or so. Before you decide that that is a totally creepy thought, hear me out.
When I began college, I still had the high-school-youth-group mindset that you go to college, get married, have a family, and that’s life. No career necessary. I remember standing in my voice teacher’s room, tearful when she asked me what it was I wanted to do with my life. “I just want to be a mom!” From there, however, I changed directions and threw myself in to my opera studies, deciding that it was opera that was my heart’s desire and not motherhood, as they were a dichotomy.
And then I graduated. And suddenly a career in opera seemed unattainable and, quite frankly, undesirable.
So that’s the background. This all came back up the other week when I read an article on Burnside Writer’s Collective (one of my favorite places online) called “She” by Sarah Thebarge. Sarah wrote a brilliant piece and really managed to encapsulate some of the pressures of being a woman. The bit in the article that grabbed me the most was a section where she explains women’s history to a friend of hers:
For the first few thousand years, women stayed at home. While their husbands hunted and fished, women raised children, made clothes, and cooked the meals. When the Industrial Revolution began several millennia later, women – especially single women — were free to leave their agrarian, patriarchal homes and venture into the city. They lived in communities and worked full-time.
Then men began to give up their farms and urbanization began, and droves of men came to the cities and took over the factory jobs, forcing women back into the home. And then came World War II. So many men were away at war, it became socially acceptable once again for women to leave their homes and take their places in the workforce. But then the war ended, the GI’s returned, and women were driven back into their home. Women spent the majority of the ’50s and ’60s at home, and instead of simply being expected, this role was now glamorized and glorified.
And then the feminists reared their heads and let out a roar that shook the country, maybe even the world. They were independent, militant, vitriolic. They gave men a scathing review on the way they’d been running society, and attempted a coup. Once again, women left their homes in droves, determined to assert their intelligence and independence. But it seems that for many women, this was an empty and unfulfilling pursuit. Many of them also found they could not manage both a household and a full-time job. So in the ’80s, after a few decades of feminism, women once again retreated back into the home.
“And now we’re in the postmodern era where there is no standard,” I explained to my friend as the dryer buzzed. “There is no expectation. There are no established roles. The new message is that women can do anything, which women often interpret to mean they can do everything. So they try to have a marriage and a career and a family and end up feeling guilty all the time because they never do anything really well.”
This all struck me, because, well, for the past few months, the big question has been “What is my life’s work?” And as getting married in the next few years really seems like a possibility, I start to wonder how that factors into “my purpose”. As a disclaimer, let me say that I’m sure there are women who really do get to have it all–big career and well-raised children (my mother, for one)–but I have started to wonder if maybe my biggest success won’t someday be a couple of crazy kids.
Does that sound crazy? I’m sure to parents it must not be totally off the wall. A few weeks ago at church, we did an exercise where each of us had to complete the sentence “I am…” with something we wanted to be down the road. Two things immediately popped into my mind with almost equal ferocity: ‘hard-working musician’ and ‘great mom’. ‘Great mom’ won out in the end, and I think was when it hit me: “I really just want to be a mom.”
Obviously, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying to figure out what the heck else I’m supposed to be doing with my time. And for heavens sakes, no, I am not prego, nor do I intend to be for another few years. However, I think it does mean devoting more time to things I love, like music, and not spending too much time working at jobs that aren’t my heart’s desire. I think it means living life beautifully and meaningfully and full of love. This has all been an interesting thought process, and I’m glad to have finally taken some time to pour it out of my fingertips.
Praise be to God that this journey is on-going and ever-evolving.
So my dreams have been just so ridiculous lately that I started a blog about them:
http://mydreamsareweird.wordpress.com Check it out!
Anyway, dudes and dudettes, I have been spending my time reading webcomics at work, crying because I don’t know what I want to do with my life (future blogging on possibilities….), and being the best girlfriend I know how to be.
Seriously, guys, I have read a lot of webcomics. Sorry this blog sucks right now. My thoughts and opinions are being slowly sucked out of me by long days spent staring at the computer screen. It’s entirely possible I am losing both brain cells and IQ points. Maybe that’s why my dreams have been so interesting.
I guess I’m pretty terrible at blogging–it’s been a long time since my last post. I find I often have ideas for posts floating around in my head. I wanted to write one called “Reflections on an Encounter with a Homeless Man,” but then the time passed, and I think I missed all the thoughts that were floating around in my heart. Maybe I’ll return to that one sometime.
Truth is, I feel like I’m in some kind of rut. I am doing the same old same old, trying to figure out how I’m going to pay for seminary in the fall, and working far too much. Blah blah blah. I’m whining. Too much. Sorry.
I just took a little look-see at my past few posts, and realized I promised more info from the conference I attended nearly a month ago now. I will get on that.
As a bonus, here are some things I am enjoying right now: The Weepies, Bellen! (especially the early ones), being in love for the first time, the warm weather, organizing the Memorial Day picnic (!), and dreaming about opening a bakery/cafe/gallery (it could really happen!).
I suppose that’s enough rambling for one day. And I’ll get working on that post from the conference. It would be good for me to revisit it.
Happy long weekend, friends!
I am constantly haunted by these words:
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” (-Annie Dillard)
Constantly. As I watch forty of my weekly hours pass sitting in an old desk chair staring at my computer or practicing my zen breathing to keep myself from becoming overly frustrated with one of my customers, I can’t help but wonder what I am doing here.
I am twenty-two, wildly passionate and just as wildly lost it seems. Just a year out of college, I am constantly bombarded with, “Oh, so what are you doing now?” I find myself trying to make my job sound more interesting than it is. I’m working for the orchestra! I’m really enjoying it.
I am treading water.
Fortunately, my job gives me a lot of time to read my daily digest of blogs. Jon Acuff, author of Stuff Christians Like, wrote this article on his 97 Seconds with God blog. Jon reminded me that even after David got called to be the king, he went back to the fields to be a shepherd a while longer.
This is a pretty comforting thought. I know this stage in my “career” isn’t going to be forever. I am working nearly full-time for basically peanuts with no benefits. Not that money is really the goal, but I would love to have a job where I could pay all my bills without waiting tables on the side. If David had to tend sheep, maybe I can sell tickets to some cranky old people. And let’s be honest people, even Jesus was a carpenter before he was out preaching the good news.
At the same time, however, I feel like I am wasting time. How I am spending my days is sometimes troubling, and I find myself floundering when someone asks me what it is I really want to do with my life.
I want to love people. I want to feed the hungry. I want to see justice happen here. I want to make music. I want to be a good listener. Someday, I want to be a loving wife and mother.
Can it be good enough for me to be in a field right now? Hopefully good (read: more interesting) things are on the horizon. This fall I am hoping to start a seminary program. I am thirsty for reading and lectures and ideas and papers. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? I can’t wait, and I think that must be a good sign.