I remember a few years ago there was an impromptu reunion from my graduating class at Wurstfest (roll with me here- it’s a sausage festival in my hometown. It’s kinda a big deal round these parts). Now, I was there that evening because my husband and I had worked at my family’s booth at the festival. And we happened to walk through the area where this reunion was to be held for various reasons, none of which was that I wanted to be there.
At one point I heard my maiden name called really loudly. Excitedly. I might have even recognized the voice. Did I turn around and greet an old friend or classmate? Hell no I didn’t. My instinct was to drop my head into my shoulders and pick up the pace out of there.
I’ve thought about this over the years- why that’s my default reaction to that time and people. I’m proud of who I am now. Of my husband. Of my life. But the thought of looking someone in the face and having them see me with eyes that only recognize who I was back then… I find the whole concept unbearable. I used to laugh and say I hated everyone I went to high school with. That I hated the school and this town. But that’s the easy answer. The glib answer. The incorrect one. The truth is it wasn’t all of them I hated. (Some? Yes. Most? Yes. All? Probably not, I guess)
Because I was me, this me, this 37 year old me trapped inside back then. It was like I was an egg, and the shell (breaking out of your shell- never heard that analogy before, woman! Uninventive but apt- bear with me here)– the shell was this confidence lacking awkward person who hadn’t learned to laugh at herself or life yet. For it to be such an integral part of my life now it is weird that I didn’t have humor on the radar even until I was most of the way through my senior year. But… I was this me inside. And let me tell you it’s a very odd feeling to not know how to be you. I got there eventually, but it was a mostly uncomfortable time for me.
And so, I want nothing to do with the people who remember the egg. For fear they won’t see the feathers I’ve grown in the years since? For fear there aren’t as many feathers as I think? Maybe.
Or maybe they really do all suck and I’m overthinking this. That could be it too.
But here’s my point- for my children I want nothing more than to make life easier for them. AND YET, it’s the difficult parts of my own life that made me who I am today. How do I weigh what is good for them against what is better for them? All the while knowing not everyone makes it out of difficult situations the same way I did?
All the baby books talk about breast milk vs. formula, or cosleeping vs. cribs… someone needs to write about the vastly more tricky parental decision of weighing character building vs. mental anguish protection for our children. I’d read it.
Nature vs nurture has nothing on establishing backbone vs. hardships unknown lemme tell ya.