What do you want to be when you grow up?
The last time you were asked that question is probably longer than you care to admit. Well, that is unless you have family that think they’re as funny as mine. In that case, you heard it quite recently.
While they may think they’re being cute, or at least trying to be, it is a question that we should be asking ourselves every so often – with emphasis on the word “be”. It could be thought of as a sort of emotional well-being check up. When you look in the mirror do you know the person staring back at you? Do you even care? You should. No, I’m not being arrogant or my typical snarky self here. It’s just that it will help you from feeling so utterly lost or confused when life rears up and stops you in your tracks – and somehow, someway, it will.
It may not always be a life changing event – it may be something that alters some facet of your life – but whatever the situation you or a loved one is facing, there comes a point where you are left with the question of how you will deal with it. And that is when you really learn what is most important in life … and it doesn’t have anything to do with what you ended up doing as an adult and everything to do with who you grew to be as an adult.
I can still remember when my husband and I were told I had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Once we were home I went and sat, alone, in the living room. For whatever reason, it was while looking around the room – so many things I once thought were important seemed silly to me at that moment. It was then that I started thinking about the limited role the tangibles of life have in such situations … I mean, our home, car, clothing, bank account would not and, more to the point, could not change my diagnosis.
Those things are certainly fine and do have their place – anyone that knows me knows I appreciate beautiful decor, fashion, shiny cars and, well, anything that sparkles … especially on my wrist, finger or ears. However, that day sitting alone with my thoughts, I knew the way I would face all the life changes ahead would depend on the person I had grown up to be. More importantly, I knew I would have to face, once and for all, just what it is that makes me tick. And, no matter how strong the yearning to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head, I also knew I would move forward with life.
It has been quite a journey of self-discovery. I think the most surprising thing for me was to discover how static I had been with my life. Huh? Me, static? I mean, I have always seen myself, described myself, as an active person living an active life. Isn’t that the standard modus operandi for a happening sort of life … a forward moving life that, through some kind of metamorphoses, would surely have the same effect on my personality. Yeah, right. If only.
As with everything else in life, things just aren”t that simple or easy. After all, its been said that anything worthwhile takes effort. I should have been having regular well-being check-ups – stepping back from everything I was doing to look closely at what was going on inside of me. I would have had a better grasp of my inner barometer … the barometer we all have (though we may not be aware of it) and, usually, use to set the pace in which we move our life.
I had allowed the pace of my life to become set to everyone’s around me. Now, I have read that is somewhat typical because we tend to have so much in common with our friends – such as our beliefs, goals, personality quirks, etc. – however, it is important to keep true to who we are at heart … we need to feel confident in our own sense of self that is separate and distinct from that of our friend’s. When we do that we continue to grow while moving forward with life.
Moving forward with life – that is what I have been busy doing. While I no longer live an active life – in fact, it could be described as static – all of what I am learning about myself keeps me busy muddling through, sorting out, and letting go of anything that doesn’t reflect who I am and what is important to me. And I’m not talking about being selfish and, therefore, making life center around all things me. This is simply about taking responsibility for my life and everything in it. It’s about being real and sharing those real bits with friends and family. It’s about dealing with whatever life throws at me with a positive attitude while keeping everything pertaining to my illness in its place.
My friends and family continue to inspire me with their examples of moving forward with life regardless of what they’re dealing with on any given day. And if I asked any of them “what they wanted to be when they grew up” I’d be sure to get tongue-in-cheek responses with the final summation, however, that they are a work in progress. Well, except CJ. I can hear her saying she wants to be queen. Now, CJ, you know I’m just seeing if you’re reading this, uh, I mean, I’m just teasing you.
Yep, a life that is moving forward is a work in progress. It calls for regular well-being checkups and solid, honest relationships with family and friends. It’s about being real with ourselves and setting the pace of our life based on our own priorities … our inner barometer is calibrated to our own sense of self – not of the friends around us.
So, what have I grown up to be? Well, I guess I’d have to say I’m still a work in progress, too. I really don’t know how long I will be able to continue moving forward with my life, however, I do know I will fight as long as I can… I want to because of my amazing friends and family.