August 27, 2004

Just answer me this

It’s the end of summer and I am facing the most daunting task of my life: I must move back home. You see, I just graduated from college and I am getting ready to move to Guatemala. I have to wait until I finish raising my money and due to the circumstances of life and of God that are out of my control, I have this long transitional phase I never planned on. I should be counting my blessings that I have the kind of parents that allow their children to crash the house unannounced and actually let them stay rent free. In fact, I think that my parents are even relishing the fact that I had to let my defenses down and show a little dependence. Being the fourth out of five children, I have never been the one to stay in close contact with my parents or my siblings. In fact, since I graduated from high school, I haven’t spent more than 3 weeks at a time at home. It was only because of my long Christmas breaks from college that I ever got any down time at all. Between busy school semesters and summers at camp, I just never had any time to come home. Even on Christmas breaks, I always had to have some place to go just to break up all that quality family time.

You know, the way I avoid home would lead one to believe that I don’t have a good relationship with my family—when in fact, I think I probably have the best relationship with my parents out of all my siblings. I was always the “no-problem” child. I mean, I had my fair share of scraps and bumps along the way, but I was so concerned with making my parents proud and living up to their expectations that I never stepped out of the lines. Maybe a toe over the edge every once and a while when I entered into my hormonal teenage years, but for the most part, my transgressions were vastly overshadowed by my siblings. I usually just slipped under the radar.

My life is changing so fast these days that most mornings I have to lay in bed a few extra minutes to just remind myself of where I am and why I’m here. I am home again and I am struggling with all the emotional baggage that comes with that. I have been here for exactly two weeks now and I am over the excitement of sleeping in and reading myself to sleep every night.

Even though it seems ridiculous to say it out loud, part of the reason I hate being here is because it makes me feel like a failure. I am 3 months past my college graduation, where I graduated with honors from a great private college completely debt-free. I had a once in a lifetime experience at college and I am one of the most blessed 22 yr olds on this planet. And yet…none of that matters here. Here I am still overshadowed by my parents and their crazy, busy lives. In some ways, I think my whole family is in secret competition with one another. See who can out-do, out-accomplish one another. See who can make more people think they are amazing. I swear, from the outside, we are this crazy, goal-driven people. Maybe that’s too cynical. Maybe it’s just too honest.

It’s such an unsettling experience to have gone away and become this confident, self-assured young woman only to come home and face all my teenage angst all over again.

Tonight I went to go see an old friend at a high school football game. Maybe ‘old friend’ is too strong of an endearment. He’s someone I wish I had kept in touch with, someone I wish I could claim as an old friend…but really, this is the first time I’ve seen him in years. I know I had one AIM conversation with him a couple of years ago and I’ve heard about him through the grapevine, but this was the first face-to-face encounter I remember since graduation. I guess that’s just the way life goes. I was so ready to be out of here. I wanted to move on. I wanted to be someone besides my parent's daughter. I was over high school before it ever began really. I had schemes of skipping high school or of going to a private school all throughout high school. I never did any of them, and really, I’m glad I didn’t miss out on my years at THS, but by the time graduation rolled around, I was so ready to be gone. I left a lot of people I cared about in the dust too. But by the time college life turned into routine and I began to figure out just who I was, it was too late to strike up old friendships. New ones were forged and every summer I had an adventure and a new group of people to take up places in my heart.

There is a part of me that wants everyone I ever encountered in high school to get together so I could see them all again. In reality, this is an egotistical and mean-spirited thing to do…because you see, all I want to do is compare my lives to theirs and see who I'm doing better than. I want them to see that I changed. I didn’t realize I carried such a chip on my shoulder until possibly just now. I have always had just a skewed version of myself in my head; who I thought I was in high school is not really the person everyone else saw. At least, I don’t think so. Is it possible that even now, it’s all about that hellish high school popularity contest? I thought I got comfortable with that in college. I thought I got comfortable with me in college.

When does this whole 'growing-up' process get easier, eh?