I haven’t written in a couple of days for several reasons, including the reason that I came over here to write and found myself with nothing to say. Which is weird since I’m the biggest chatterbox I know besides this one girl who was in my sorority and could out-talk pretty much anyone I’ve ever met. It was impressive. Anyway, I always have SOMEthing to say.
So, here I am now to complain about how I won’t be able to blog much for the next week and a half because we’re going to the mountains and then I’m going on a conference. I am delighted to be going on a conference because I neeeeeeeed it. I need to think. I think to have new ideas flung at me by people who know what they’re talking about and I need these thoughts to be flung at me in person, not through a book. I need to meet strangers and test myself against them. Is that weird? It never fails. No matter where I go, people that I meet think one thing of me and I slowly prove them wrong the entire week (or whatever span of time).
A few years ago, I went to a conference with our youth at church, Montreat. (Montreat is so special. It’s where my husband and I met and where we’re going tomorrow for the weekend. Can’t wait!) They also have conferences there almost all year and I’d never been to the youth conference before, so I tagged along as an adult adviser. In our small group, I knew no one. A few of the other adults who were there seemed okay, and the high school-aged youth were fun to watch as they decided who they wanted to get to know. After almost four days of hanging out with this crowd, one girl confessed to me, “You are way cooler than I thought you were. I mean, you showed up here with your preppy clothes and you just rubbed me the wrong way for some reason.” Ouch. Yeah, me, preppy? I shudder to think that! I’d gained a bunch of weight between the summers of 2005 and 2006, so I had bought some stuff at Target to go wear in the mountains since the clothes from the year before would have ripped apart if I had tried to wear them. My new clothes were shroud-like, but colorful enough. I basically aimed to not be naked, and maybe to blend in. Anyway, this girl had judged me one way and was now verifying that her impression of me had been way off. Looking at her was like watching myself when I was her age. She’d just graduated high school, was clearly independent in her thoughts, and dressed to the beat of her own drum, just as I had. I went to a mega-Presbyterian conference when I was a recent high school grad called Triennium, and this girl and I would have been instant best friends if we had met there. I had long curly (permed, I must admit) hair, a heck of a lot of confidence, and I was fiercely committed to having the time of my life and meeting everyone in our 60+ member small group. I love that I had this experience with her though, because it made me consider whether or not I had become someone that my 18-year-old self would like, not just inside, but outwardly, too. I still don’t know, but it’s good to compare yourself to yourself at times. I realized I wasn’t thrilled with who I was at the time. Mid-20s were a rough time, full of awkward experiences such as weight gain, lowered self-esteem, unclarity about my career moves. I think I experienced a good dose of rejuvenation as a result.
So, next week I’ll be meeting new people. I love meeting new people and finding out their stories and what made them want to go on this conference. It’s a diversity conference for independent schools, so all I will have in common with them from the outset is that I work at an independent school. I might be on the young end of the age spectrum, judging by the appearance of the people in the few last years’ photos. It’s in the Boston area, so I’m going to have to work hard to focus on being part of the conference and not thinking about all the people I want to see there. I am sure that I’ll have some good memories to record here, no matter what.
Personally, I am seeking something pretty major right now. I know I love working in a school. I know I’ve toyed quite a bit about the idea of teaching. Maybe I’ll get either some inspiration for another direction, impetus for following my dream about becoming a teacher, or maybe I’ll find out that I am good as I am now. Part of me wants to live somewhere else, be someone else – even though I am married and now own a home with my husband, I feel the call to see new things, hear new ideas, meet new people. Just as I longed for a new book to read (and have read 4 books since I wrote that post), I see these needs in myself and struggle with the most appropriate ways to satisfy them. Of course I love my husband and our home – that’s a huge part of who I am and I don’t want to give that up. I guess I just sense a conflict with my inner nature to grow and change, or to grow and continue becoming who I am. I guess a bite-sized adventure, like a conference in a semi-familiar place with 99% strangers, without my husband is a safe way to explore these feelings and then return home to what I love and know.
I’m thinking of a song that is off of the Trio album that Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emilou Harris recorded in the 80s:
“The hills were alive with wild flowers and I was a wild, even wilder than they. For at least I could run; they just died in the sun, and I refused to just wither and wait. So I uprooted myself from my homeground and left, took my dreams and I took to the road. When a flower grows wild, it can always survive. Wild flowers don’t care where they grow.”
It’s just been in my head so much lately, and it really captures my emotional state right now. Nothing normal seems enough for me right now. The future feels overwhelming, even though the actual plans we’ve made are really fun things. I feel impatient and a little reckless, but I am steady enough to control myself.
Maybe it’s just hormones.