This is a test

Just when you think you have it all figured out, it hits you upside the head: It’s not just my boyfriend that’s worried about the future – it’s me, too. Me, who I thought was ready for the next big thing, ready to say all my fears were behind me, ready to move forward. And then, I realize, I’m scared, too.

The next few months will be challenging ones as the bf graduates from law school next week, takes the bar two months later, and continues looking for jobs and moves out here to be with me in the fall. And all this time, I’ve been focused on dates. What day are you moving here? Tell me WHEN are you here? And I’ve been worried about what happens next. We move in together, then what? What if he gets a job back in Ohio? What if he doesn’t? Is it all perfect and wonderful and that’s the end? Do we practice for a little while to make sure it’s the right thing?

I was reminded by my dad that there is no test to figure out if something is 100%. I’ll never be able to pinpoint to one action or day that makes me say, “Aha! This is all going to work out into a happy ending. All our troubles are behind us.” So with that being said, we have to learn to be okay with the 90%, or 85%, or even 99%, because that’s what life and relationships are about. NOT knowing the exact future, NOT knowing what troubles, challenges, or opportunities lie ahead – but being confident that it can be worked through, and if it doesn’t work…that that’s okay too.

I realized that I wasn’t truly testing my bf, but I’ve been testing myself. I’ve been waiting to get to that moment when I feel absolutely sure that I won’t be alone, that I won’t be disappointed, that I won’t be hurt. The truth is that we’re going to get let down, and hurt, and disappointed. But it doesn’t  mean I should set myself up for it, by preparing to the very minute details, by throwing my test of myself onto others. It’s not fair to them or me.

When we think about things that scare us about the future, it can be any number of things: financial security, job security, not knowing what job is right for you, being abandoned, having some tragic incident befall us. But there’s only so much we can do to prepare for those things. We can hope and wish and pray and save and plan and make lists, but so much of is it truly about running on faith – in yourself, and in others. And I don’t mean faith in the religious way – I mean trust and confidence, and really believing what someone is telling you and what they’re doing if they’re not giving you any reason not to. And it also means having faith that if something doesn’t go well, that there’s still a way out of that, too. You just don’t know it, so it’s scary.

For the past eight months, I’ve spent a lot of time debating what is the next step in my career, trying to figure out where I would be okay moving to, and looking for signals that things AREN’T going to work. But now, I know that I’ve been working against myself – and I’ll never get an A+ if I keep on this same road. So my goal for myself for the next few months is to look for the things that ARE working, to widen my options, and to stop trying to get to 100% – because when I do, it will be that much more worth it.

Making plans?

I’m a planner. A think-aheader. An organizer, a routine person. Anyone who knows me, knows that about me. I have lists to check off and dates to remember and goals to meet and visions to pursue. In some arenas, I pride myself on this. It makes me feel productive, and somehow, it comforts me.

But lately, I’ve been realizing how sometimes, planning ahead isn’t possible and it isn’t the best way to go about things. For instance, planning out the BIG aspects of your life: marriage, kids, career, where you’ll live, etc. Don’t get me wrong – thinking about these things and having ideas about them isn’t bad. But I know that I can, and I’m sure other people can, fall into a rut of imagining their lives so far in advance before certain things have even happened, so much so that it can take away from living in the moment, and take away from you doing the things you truly want to do and being the person you want to be.

Parents are good at these times, to remind you to be selfish while you can, before you have obligations, before it’s too late. As someone in a serious relationship, I know that I often think about what will happen in a few years and what it means for the things I want to do in life. There’s trade-offs. It’s inevitable that we give things up to be with someone else. That’s where planning ahead too much can make things harder. Suddenly, the plan to get married in 3 years and have kids 2 years later and live in City X for 5 years before moving to City Y isn’t so appealing if it means you might have to sacrifice other things you love.

As this year moves forward, it’s part of my “plan” to not plan so much. Now is the time to figure out what I want to do – and go do it.

Relaxation brings reflection

We’re all doing it right now – the days of 2008 are coming to an end, and as we’re sitting around trying to take a breath after the holidays, putting away decorations, catch up on the piles of magazines, and we’re doing a little thinking. What happened this year? What will next year bring? What changes do I want to make, if any?

At least that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been “home” in Cincinnati with my parents for over a week and have another week left. It’s funny, because my parents always ask if I want to do anything fun while I’m home, but honestly, I prefer to just keep doing what we’re doing – watching old Law & Orders, having coffee and relaxing with our dogs, seeing some movies, that sort of thing. Rather selfishly, I don’t even like giving up my time of doing what most people would call “nothing,” to hang out with a couple old friends in the area, despite earlier plans to do so.

There’s a lot that’s been going through my mind lately and many things I’ve been trying to figure out. I’m constantly wading through those old bad memories from years ago of a father who didn’t seem to want me, of friends who suddenly weren’t friendly, and so forth. As much as I try to let it go and move on, I can’t. And I’ve come to accept that if I don’t do something about it, it will continue to affect my life and all my current and future relationships in a damaging way – and I don’t want that either. You’ve read in my past entries that overall, life is good with the new job and new place. But even with that, there are some things that just don’t go away until we do something big and life-changing about it. For me, the first part has been realizing that I can’t do it alone.

I’ve had a lot of little moments lately, what Oprah in her magazine likes to call “Aha!” moments. Mine run the gamut, including things like omg I’ve gained 10 lbs and need to lose it ASAP, to why am I not volunteering for Habitat for Humanity to build homes for those hit by Katrina – my real hometown area, nonetheless? Then it’s other things like, damn, I can’t believe I just blew up at my boyfriend for no reason or how did I not realize I was acting like that at work?

My parents always joke that they’re boring. Looking in from the outside, one might agree, considering their social calendar isn’t exactly booked. But then again, mine isn’t either. I tend to spend much of my time just like they do – reading, watching old movies, and just hanging out. But those are the times when I have those Ahas, when I’m not thinking about my work to do list or who do I need to call or what errand do I need to take care of tomorrow. In a week, I’ll be ready to return to DC, and jump into 2009. And then I can turn my Ahas from thoughts to actions.