Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Nice Sweatshirt? Part One

I don't think it would be an exaggeration, or, if it was at one point, it is one I have used consistently enough that now it is not, to say that over the past two years, I have been going through a fairly significant identity crisis. For a while, as you know, I blogged through the crisis. But that was hard for a lot of reasons. While some of the urgency has faded- after all, it's been two years, what's the hurry?! at this point, I'm kind of used to this- and I don't feel that deep, valley of the shadow of death kind of acute agony and need for immediate rescue and defined purpose, I still hesitate to blog about many things. I just don't know what to think anymore. I feel like my perspective is constantly being challenged. Many of the things I have assumed about life now seem to be evidence of my own smallness of mind. On the other hand, I wouldn't accuse anyone else of the same error if they still hold to the same views. It is hard to make this make sense, so let me just give you one example.

I had a friend in high school who seemed to be determined to point out most of my flaws. Okay, not exactly a "friend".... The fact that I really really looked up to this individual means that the criticism really smarted (and probably encouraged this person's boldness, though I rather think he/she still has no idea of his/her influence). But while the words and the delivery of the words themselves were harsh, the idea behind them was often more or less true. One of many things this person judged me for was the wealth of my family- or perhaps, our "misuse" of said wealth. I was oblivious to that wealth, to me it seemed "normal," and everyone else's homes, cars, or wardrobes seemed more or less the same. Maybe that "obliviousness" was the thing that drove this person crazy. It kind of makes me crazy looking back on it. Anyway, one day I came to school wearing a name brand zip up sweatshirt that cost almost $60. Of course, a nearly identical one could be purchased at Walmart for $5; this friend had one of those. The fact that this individual had one like it actually inspired my own purchase! Only, my family never went to Walmart (and it was so off my radar, that it never would have occurred to me that that's where this person's shirt came from), but we did frequent Abercrombie and Fitch (back in the days when you could also buy a houndstooth jacket there). So that's where I got my sweatshirt. I think it was the first time I wore that sweatshirt that this friend told me how ridiculous it was to have a sweatshirt like that- that cost that much (and the person accurately guessed how much I paid, challenging me with a demand to know if his/her estimation was accurate), from that store, etc. I am pretty sure I never wore it again in high school. No worries, it went through a revival my freshman year in college when I frequently wore it with my One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish tee shirt and green corduroy pants (also from Abercrombie- super cute outfit).

Anyway, would I buy a plain sweatshirt for $60 now? No, because I don't have $60 ;) Would I if I did? I don't know. But I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with anyone who does. And it pains me to think how often I have been the one criticizing "the sweatshirt," whatever "the sweatshirt" may represent as one individual's choice. And while I am rethinking so much about life, and essentially straddling two completely different places in life whilst completely unsure which place I will end up in, I fear that any of my own reflections could possibly come across like criticizing someone else's sweatshirt. It's just so hard! Everyone has to make their own choices- how they will spend their time, how they will spend their money, how they will raise their children... And everyone has completely different resources and backgrounds that factor into their decisions! I have nothing to say anymore. Because I don't know. I don't know how to make my own choices, much less say that any one thing is better or worse than anything else. Except Coke. Coke is definitely better than Pepsi. Other than that, I have no idea.

In some ways, this is not very different from what I have been learning for the last five or six years. I have become less and less opinionated (praise the Lord!) as I have gotten older. But at this point, I am so unable to form an opinion about almost everything, that I sort of feel panicked and lost. It is a very good thing to realize that you don't know everything, and that most things are not black and white. I needed to learn that. I have now arrived at the point where I just don't know anything. I can't tell you with any certainty what I want to do on either a grand scale or a small scale, what I should do on either scale, what I hope for, or if I know what I hope for whether or not it's even a good idea.

One thing I have been hoping hard for for two years is another baby. And while we have never had any trouble with fertility, we have had plenty of troubles with finances. We have felt forced to make the "wise" decision not to have any more children until we can pay for them (not just doctor bills, but for them to eat and wear clothes, etc.). I don't even know for sure if I really even think that is "wise," but being only 32 means I can probably afford to wait a little while longer. I will tell you that I am quite tired of waiting, that I have had to come to grips with the frustrating (to me) reality that if I do have any more children, it will be another "set" because of the age gap, and that I also recognize that I have been blessed with three children already and was able to have my first child without even trying. So I know I don't know much about the heartache of not being able to have a child. Someone recently told me they were glad I hadn't had a baby in all of this mess of the past two years because it would've have made everything a little harder. I tend to think it would have actually made everything a little bit more bearable- Elspeth always does that, just reminds me that God has been good and that there is such a thing as a joy that outweighs our sorrows. But I don't know which perspective makes more sense. Again, I don't know. Anyway, I thought I might like to be vulnerable since I haven't been in quite a while.

And with that in mind, more things I don't know: Do I like my job? Do I like my kids being in school? Would it be okay if we stayed in St. Louis forever? What would we do if we did? Do I think George will ever be a pastor? Do I still want to write a book? Or a screenplay? Or would I rather partner in a catering business or bakery someday? (this one, probably not) Or would I rather homeschool again? Or will I end up doing something that will feel very insignificant and unfulfilling like most people? And would that be okay since serving my children and my husband is (will be?) significant and fulfilling? What do I think about Elspeth going to school every morning (except Tuesdays and Thursdays now because of some fancy footwork in George's and my schedule) as a three-year-old? Is it that different from being in daycare? Or is it that different from being with me since I know her teachers well, it's only for three hours, and I am right down the hall? What should I sell on Ebay? Should I continue to spend the extra money on cage free eggs when the term isn't regulated? Should I go ahead and look into buying grain fed beef from a local farmer? Is more than one pair of pants really a need? Is the light fading on the legs of those pants from an unfortunate though unremembered Proactive incident an issue- obviously, I've been wearing them for a long time with the blemish? Should I really continue to pay for Proactive even if it is the only thing that keeps my face from looking like the surface of the moon? Why do I care about my face breaking out when I haven't had a haircut in a year and I need to lose about a million pounds? Does anyone actually perceive me as the person I think I am (in spite of all that I don't know, of course)? If not, are they right? I mean, am I self-deluded? Or else why do I have such a hard time getting across the sort of person I mean to be? Is who you are even something you "get across?" Surely who we are is not the sum total of our outward blunders? Why are my outward blunders always so myriad while everyone else is comparatively so much more unaffected and together? Do people notice all of the outward blunders I think they notice? Do they notice the fading on those pants? Do they wonder why I haven't gotten my hair cut or should I just quit mentioning that I am going to donate it because it could sound like bragging when really I am just explaining the monstrous amount of hair on my head? Do I really care so much about donating it or am I just having too hard a time deciding when and where to get it cut and so I have put it off in the name of donating? Do I really believe everything I have always said I believe? I mean, it seems awfully sketchy these days, what is it that I was so certain about? Does all of that minutiae that I spent so long thinking through really matter? Is all of this uncertainty a good thing or a bad thing? Am I being torn down to be built back up better? Or am I losing my proverbial marbles? Is this like the footsteps thing where I look back at the one set of footprints and I've been carried, or did I bolt a while back? Is it even possible to bolt? Without knowing it? When will there be two sets of the footprints again? And if there are, how will I know I'm not just tracking a Woozle?

See what I mean? Total identity crisis. More on this later, but for now, for your amusement, I give you Part One. And my apologies. Because what the what?!

3 comments:

Jessie said...

I agree that coke is better for sure. The rest of it, I don't have answers for. But then you knew that already.

Brittnie said...

Abby,

I've been MIA for forever, but I'm back. I'm glad you're blogging again- I like reading what you write!

And, I TOTALLY understand what you mean about an identity crisis. Same boat.

:-)

Brittnie (Olive)

RHB said...

Abby,

I love you!

Rachael

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