|(my dad holding a newborn me)|
I spent this entire afternoon looking through photos of my childhood. I'm a bit ashamed to say it wasn't to go over sweet, old memories. I spent all of the time zooming into backgrounds of houses I lived in, studying furniture and kitchen appliances and what my brothers and I were wearing. I analyzed and over-anazlyed everything. I was looking for clues.
But then I read this post by Michelle. Then this one by Gina. And this one by Dani. They all struck me so hard, but especially that line from Dani's post- "That's not your story."
The people I compare myself to the most? My parents. I cannot tell you how many times I've ended up upset and even in tears because I've felt like my life isn't living up to the way they lived theirs. I think, "By such-and-such age, Dad had a good job as a firefighter. At this point, they bought a house. They were never on Medicaid. They had more education. They were happier." And on, and on, and on, and on...
I don't know what it is about comparison and why I do so much of it. I didn't pay this much attention to it all even in high school, where so much of life tends to be about who is popular and what they had. So maybe I'm not going to be the girl posting house renovation pictures on Facebook- maybe not in 10 years, and maybe never. And maybe I won't have the designer clothes, or the cars, and yes- even the college diploma.
But this is my thought tonight, after a day spent reflecting on those other posts, and the place my mind has been lately- I have no idea if most of what we owned was hand-me-downs, or if they paid for all of our Christmas gifts with credit cards, or if even Dad's job paid enough to pay the bills without worry. I don't know if they got along well for the most part, or if there were lots of disagreements or nights full of the silent treatment after I was tucked into bed. I have no clue what they thought about the other couples they knew or my friends' parents, and if they compared themselves to other people. I don't know so much about that time, and quite truthfully, it's not really any of my business anyway.
|(my mom and I- and no, that was not our wallpaper)|
I have no idea if any of my grandparents went to college, or how they spent most of their lives either earning money or caring for their homes. Maybe they took nice vacations. Maybe they had bill collectors calling. It's all irrelevant in the end, though- whatever it was, they got through it, raised good families, and because of that, I exist. Millie exists. The things in their houses have long been passed down or thrown out as they all passed away and left this earth, but their actions are what remain. Their memory is not in possessions, or at what age they were or were not able to check something off the list (getting married, having a baby, owning a home).
The problem with me is simple- I focus on what I don't know. Why am I trying to add something up when I don't even know what I'm adding? It wouldn't make sense mathematically, and it doesn't make sense in life. I think I would be so much happier with the life I have if I could just, for one second, pause. If I could remember that those stories aren't mine, and that the only one who knows my entire story is God. Would I have written it this way? Absolutely not. But God is a much better writer than me. And when I think about what I would have missed out on- most obviously, my daughter- I cannot imagine what it would look like if I had scripted it 'perfectly'.
I don't know the ending to my story, other than there will eventually be an end. I won't be thinking, "If only I was able to buy that pair of jeans. If only we were able to buy that property. If only I had done _______ before everyone else my age." It won't matter if I'm in a mansion or in a tiny, studio apartment. It will only matter who is there with me, and the legacy of my actions.
I need to start living my life with that knowledge.