Letting it go
I was once free but now I have trouble with the act of leaving. I must assess why that it is.
I have reached a lot of cross roads in my life. Last night, while out on a business dinner, I mentioned the two books I am working on this coming year. One of which is my memoirs. My colleague asked politely “aren’t you too young to be wiring a memoir.” I joked that I have lived many lives thus far from at an early age being on my own to living abroad to witnessing literal mayhem and murder under my bedroom window in the South Bronx. The question is not so much whether I am old enough but whether these tales of growing into the woman that I am today will be of any grand interest or import.
I have been at the crossroads and the road chosen has never been easy. I have left things and people behind many times in my life. The defining moment early on in my life was when I left to go to boarding school hundreds of miles away from home. Such a departure was a jarring cultural dissonance for my family. They wondered who would willingly not live with their family; as family is everything. At the end of the day, the goal for me to get a grand education and become someone overrode all cultural misgivings and nuances. I then left the United States to live abroad leaving again my family behind. At one point I left a life I was starting to settle into in DC to go to live in California sight unseen. Thereafter, when I finally returned to my beloved New York City, I left again back to California. The act of 9/11 brought me back home where I got to live right near ground zero and be reminded everyday of the randomness and fragility of life.
I have now been back ten years. The longest I have ever stayed anywhere. It feels nice to be home and have a home. I own something that is mine. I now have accumulated things, paintings, furniture and the like. I have never owned so many things in my life span. In a way that is scary. I look about and fear I could lose it all one day. I still have a “go” bag just in case I have to run and leave in a split second. Regardless of that “go” bag I have settled into life, work and the city.
However, as of late, I have been wondering about this phase of being settled. I am settling in because I am tired, happy or lost? It is a bit counter-intuitive to propose I could be settled in to my life because I am lost. However, I may have reached the point where I am thinking “what now?” Before I used to move on and leave in order to better myself and keep climbing some life strata. If I were to leave now (wherever or from whatever that may be) what would I be trying to accomplish with my life? I can no longer leave just to leave and explore a new facet of my life. I have bills and family considerations. Plus, that pesky little thing called a mortgage that acts as a stranglehold in this economy. Can’t this economic recession just be done with? Anyway, I have been thinking a lot lately as to what I want to be when I grow up. Yes, I am an adult but the growth never stops. Or at least I hope it never stops. At this point I must assess whether I am still learning and whether I am still on the right path towards grand achievement. I cannot allow myself to settle in and be a puppet of the system (grandly speaking). I cannot allow myself to be stifled either creatively or vocally. I have struggled long and hard to have a voice and it is that voice that makes me unique.
As a female in a highly male-dominated field I have often been singled out as the behavioral scientist “princess”. It is not a phrase or term of endearment in my eyes. However, I do tend to use it to my advantage. What annoys me even more, however, is one declarative sentence that people often say to me to express their belief in my abilities. They often state “behind every man is the woman that really powers things and gets things done” or some other derivative thereof. Thanks to Groucho Marx for that longstanding sentiment that behind every successful man is a strong woman. I have never really been bothered by that statement until recently. As I climbed to a Vice President position in my current company where yes, the President is a male, people have run up to me to gladly tell me how I am the woman behind the success. I am not too sure that it is a compliment to me that I am the woman behind his success. I stand for my own success in my own shoes and in my own shadow. I don’t need to lean in or out. I stand firm. However, if I keep getting such statements thrown at me, are the masses trying to tell me I have been standing still (though firmly) for too long? Before when I left places, I left to keep learning and climbing. Now, when I leave it will be to amplify my voice further and not be muted by a shadow.
When I next leave I will not do as the British pop band OMD suggested, I will look back and take stock so that I can continue to move forward in my own shoes.
Inspired by the Daily Prompt of: Leave