This one’s been driving me crazy over the past couple of years. Probably since the moment they handed me my degree. That was when I was supposed to march out into the world and Do What I Love, Follow My Passion, Chase My Dreams. Just one problem. University, budding adulthood, going from one of the smartest kids in school to a mediocre face in the crowd – it all kind of knocked the wind out of my sails.
I’m definitely part of the generation that was raised constantly being told I was special. And I’m not sure it did me much good. Despite the loving intentions of the adults around me, I didn’t hear “You are inherently special” so much as “Our expectation is that you be special, and you demonstrate your specialness on a regular basis.”
Now this wasn’t too much of a problem for a while, because I was a kid for whom school made perfect sense (with the exception of gym). I loved the structure and the routines, I easily understood what the teachers wanted, and I was eager to please. I flourished. I succeeded at being special.
Then I graduated university and, unsure what I was going to do next, I got a job at Subway and lived in a sweet little house with three friends. I had a minimum wage job, no prospects, one room to call my own, and no car. I was the happiest I’ve ever been.
With my low-stress job, I had a ton of time and energy when I got home to read, write poems, walk in the park, meditate, hang out with my friends, teach myself basic cooking skills, watch movies, go to the library, make plans with people. It was beautiful.
But I couldn’t stay working there forever. I had a degree, I was smart, I was special!
It didn’t seem to matter that I was happy. No one even bothered to ask.
To this day, people around me keep asking what I’m doing for a career, when I’m going to put my skills to use. Sometimes I feel they don’t want me to have a happy, peaceful, fulfilled life so much as a business card, a suitable reply to dinner party questions, or an impressive answer to write on a form in the doctor’s office. Is it assumed that that will bring happiness, or is prestige just more important than happiness?
I miss the days when integrity meant more than achievement, when who you are was valued more highly than what you do. I’m not at all interested in climbing the ladder. I just want to be a person of good character, and to have a simple life with as little stress as possible.
I will consider myself extraordinarily lucky if I find myself again in a situation like I had in my tiny blue house and humble job. I know there are some people around me who would struggle with it. Sorry, Mum and Dad, but I’m not that special. I’m just a child of God following what makes me joyful. I would so much rather feel whole than special.
I pull on socks to warm my feet,
I need glasses so I can read,
I brush my teeth to keep them strong.
I tuck daisies behind my ear,
I pick up leaves when I walk through the park,
I save spiders from the drain.
I am not special,
my rib cage is like a curled picket fence.
But I am joyful, and the world needs my light.
P.S. I now have an Etsy store up and running, in an attempt to raise a bit of money for The Humane League, and express my creativity at the same time. Check it out if you’re interested. Thank you very much