I did. If you did too, are you asking these same questions?
I can’t remember ever wanting to be “normal.”
Most days, I’m just fine with my life choices that rejected the life script of “normal.” But as I age, I find myself wondering more and more about the choices I made in my youth and the value of the script of “normal” and the price of saying no to it so long ago.
A while back, on a gorgeous day so brilliant you couldn’t help but be overjoyed to bear witness to it, my mum and I were chatting away about nothing as we strolled across the parking lot of our local grocery store when we spotted Rosanny, the young woman who works in the office of our primary care doctor.
And in tow, she had three of the cutest little kids. So we greeted her excitedly and I made the casual comment, “So there’s life outside of Dr. V’s office?” Rosanny’s reply was swift, definite, and full of pride of achievement: “Yes, there is. I’m a wife and a mother too.”
Her words and the supreme confidence with which she stated them got me thinking and examining the idea of human roles we play and how they’ve applied to my life.
From the moment our tiny lungs expand with the acceptance of our first breath of life outside our mother’s womb, we begin playing our first, inescapable role: that of a daughter or a son. Then, depending on how the roles are appointed, you may be a sister or a brother too.
All the world is a stage. ~ William Shakespeare
Next, as we grow into life, we hopefully become loyal friends to someone and they to us. And if we choose it or Lady Fortune has her way with us, we may play the role of a wife or a husband — legally or in spirit — and then, a parent.
While there are likely other roles one can play on the stage that is a human life, the roles listed above are probably the most fundamental. For most of us, these roles are a way of keeping up with the passage of time. That is, they provide evidence — milestones if you will — that we are here and that we are engaged in the interplay of living.
And like it or not, these fundamental roles often define us, for better or worse; provide us with structure; lend us purpose; and give our existence a greater depth and range.
But the way of life and human nature is random and the path is uneven and littered with obstacles and interference. For one reason or another, we can fail to meet our destined co-stars. Or, maybe we lose them along the way. Or, maybe we had certain instructive experiences in our youth that colored our entire perspective and, therefore, the choices we make.
For example, growing up, I had only witnessed indifferent or unhappy marriages. Plus, as a hypersensitive soul, I interpreted the world as needlessly cruel and ridiculous — I still do. In other words, for me, life is a pitch-black dramedy with varying degrees of light moments and delusions interspersed between the darkness.
So as I act out Act IV: The Falling Action of my life, I still don’t regret the choices of my younger self. There are always pros AND cons to any choice, and I know exactly what I gained and lost. Truth is, too many marriages are foolishness and misery, and although I still have not witnessed a good marriage first-hand, I now believe that unicorn exists. And for people like me whose skin color is a crucifixion, things are both marginally better and still a heap worse too — and I still can’t reconcile this.
But I also know this: The price I’m paying today is not exactly the price I thought I would be paying when I made fateful decisions in my youth. After all, the young woman who made those decisions is not the woman who is living with them. And the woman who is living with the choices of a young woman from a different time can’t help but sometimes wonder:
- Have I lived an incomplete life?
- Did these choices make me lifeless?
- Am I no one if I have never been a wife or a mother?
- And who will hold my hand or care that I’m gone when I exit the “stage” of life?