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There Are As Many Ways To Live a Good Life As There Are People
I wish I could be unapologetically myself like my husband is. I love it about him so much. When he’s into something, he’ll go all in without worrying about what anyone else might think. When something doesn’t spark joy, he’ll let you know without hesitation.
My husband drives an unimpressive car because he simply doesn’t care about cars that you can’t live in for an extended time. He spends a lot of time thinking about how to improve or upgrade our RV though. He doesn’t care about going to parties but is always up for spending some time in nature. He never worries if he’s missing out on something, unless it’s missing out on making a splash in a cold mountain lake. My husband would never turn down an opportunity to make a splash.
A while ago my husband suggested we share one Roam account and write our personal notes in adjacent graphs. I was shocked anyone could even propose such a thing, the mere thought of anyone having access to my raw unfiltered thoughts is giving me chills. He said he’d be fine with it because deep inside he’s the same person as he is on the outside, and I strongly suspect that is true. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if his personal journals were full of stuff like “There was splashing around with a nice view. Today is a good day”.
I’m much less confident in my choices than my husband is, possibly because I still don’t fully trust myself to make some good ones. When people ask me to do something, I’ll often do it out of politeness while quietly resenting them for putting me in this situation. When they criticize my decisions, I feel compelled to make them change their minds and accept my own point of view. When I was in my first job out of college, I remember telling someone that life has guided me to pretty interesting places so far without any control or decisionmaking on my part. That’s how I felt about my life until I was 25, it was just something happening to me, something I had no control over.
I was raised as a prodigy kid. My parents had very ambitious plans for my future and this required spending my time on things they considered worthy. When I did something dumb or frivolous in their eyes it was met with strong disapproval. I rebelled voraciously against it in my teens, but rejecting someone else’s plan is not the same as designing my own. Most of the things I did at that time were either out of spite or a desire to impress someone else. It never occurred to me that I could pursue something that makes sense for me personally, something that would make me personally happy without worrying about how other people might react.
My parents wanted me to major in linguistics. I went to study computer science instead, inspired by my first high school boyfriend who got me hooked on programming and then promptly decided to become a Catholic priest. Did I really want to be a software engineer or did I just want to impress him? After more than a decade of taking another coding job only to remind myself why I found the previous one so boring, I think I like the idea of being seen as a developer more than actually coding itself.
Who am I when I’m neither trying to impress my parents nor my software developer friends? I’m about to turn 35 this year, and I’m still trying to figure it out. Sometimes I’m a bit jealous of the girl from my high school class who is a cosplayer and influencer on TikTok and currently training to become a tattoo artist. Not because I would like to trade places with her, but because I remember how she was like two decades ago and I can clearly see she is now living the life that she has always dreamed of.
But to be fair, so am I. I’ve travelled to some of the most beautiful places in the world, met some incredible people, and now have the most wonderful family that is a neverending source of joy. If you told the teenage me how my life would eventually turn out, she probably wouldn’t believe it. I’m proud of where I ended up, I just need to stop worrying whether anyone thinks my choices were dumb, lazy, or boring. There are as many versions of a good life as there are people, it’s time to unapologetically focus on living my own one to the fullest.
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