Yesterday was the first time, in a long time, that I was able to take the moment and enjoy the beauty that surrounds me. It was the first time that I was able to isolate the sounds in my head and the cacophony that creates our world, that we find ourselves consumed in on a daily basis, and separate them from the sounds of silence. I found myself in a bird sanctuary/wildlife refuge. At that time of day I was the only person there. I walked through the wooded secluded areas watching a couple of deer frolicking in the distance. I had sojourned at a wooden foot bridge overlaying a frozen pond. My eyes were closed due to the brightness of the sun hitting the white snow. But I just wanted to feel the warmth of the sun against my back. I focused my whole attention to that comforting sensation and feeling so elated that I had finally taken myself out of my head, away from that critical voice telling me what I should and should not do. I continued to use my senses. What did I feel? The warm sun. What did I hear? The birds singing over the warm scaping land and the scraping sound of the branches over head. What did I see? I looked up and saw a family of hibernating trees being mirrored on a glassy frozen pond. Their reflection was so clear giving a true testament of who they really are. There was nothing fake about them. Despite being asleep, you could see the visceral depiction of the life they once lived and the life they are about to live in the spring. Their vulnerable start to new life is being protected in a refuge in attempt to create oxygen, shade, and new homes for all woodland creatures. That's what they're meant to be. That is there purpose.
What is my purpose? As I ponder on my life (or should I say my sheer existence) these past few months and beyond, I struggle to find the words that describe my experiences and my lack of response to how my life has been led by others. My gut instincts tell me how to live my life but the critical voice in my head, with the help of other influential beings around me, are telling me to take a completely different path because that is how I am supposed to live life according to them. I go to college to become a teacher (and promised jobs once I graduate) because that is what I was supposed to do. I got a job in my field of education because that was what I was told I needed to do. I got any job that had consistent pay and benefits because that was the only way to survive in this society. It didn't matter if I was emotionally or intellectually ready. I was put up on a pedestal and pushed into the fire that is called society. I was constantly finding myself in a crash and burn situation struggling to pull myself out of the pit time and time again. And each time finding myself sicker than the time before.
When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, it wasn't a career choice like a doctor or a lawyer, it was a state of mind that I wanted to achieve. It was to be happy. But to live in society's norm you are in a way forced to make a decision with your life whether you are ready or not. That is what I did. Growing up my parents tried to broaden my experiences by giving me the best of everything. I was in ballet, choir, took piano lessons, flute lessons, was in band from middle school through college. You name it. I never really had stage fright or fear of being up in front of a crowd and because I never showed signs of this I had teachers encouraging me to become a teacher. Because I was a musician they encouraged me to become a music teacher insisting that there were jobs available in that field. So from the age of 12 on up I had in my mind that I needed to be a music teacher. I remember when I was a sophomore in college I started to show regret in my career choice. I tried to think of all the things that I was somewhat good at and that I could make a comfortable living off of. But I couldn't. Plus, my feelings weren't loud enough for those around me to hear. The only thing I was good at was acting like what other people wanted me to be and not who I really am. So, I just went on with this façade that I was going to be a music teacher. When I graduated from college, the lie that I was told about available jobs was simply that....a lie. My grandfather, whom I was living with, was sick and dying. I was at a point in my life where I needed security and stability. I felt myself cast out into the stormy seas where my version of stability was something tangible that I already had which was my high school/college retail job. I wasn't ready to let it go. But no. When I had adults, whom I've known most of my life and I've looked up to as a mother-figure, turn around and criticized me for not having a job in my field and that I was throwing away my college education for a mere retail position. I felt like I had disappointed them, disappointed my parents, my grandparents, etc. But not once had I turned to myself and asked me what I wanted. So, I gave up the retail job for the first teaching position that I found. It was a part time (3 days a week) job in a Catholic school an hour from my home. To try to make ends meet, I took on some private lesson students in piano and flute. I did this for about a of couple years. This took me to the next level in this tumultuous journey where I had my first mental breakdown. But another story for another time. With every career move all I see is a steel wall several miles thick and I am pushed up against it and everyone is pushing me to push it and it won't budge.
I endured this teaching career for a total of 6 plus years. I felt lost after that because teaching was all I knew. I looked at myself in the mirror and I didn't recognize her. Who was this person staring back at me? All these years of pretending to be somebody because I thought that's the person people wanted even though the authentic me was dying to come out but I just simply suppressed her and neglected her. Lately, I've been searching to find who she really is and what her purpose on this earth is supposed to be. Yes, I am a people pleaser and yes, I do take what people say and think about me seriously. But, I think it's about time I take what I think of myself to heart.
What is my purpose? Besides a caring, compassionate, serious, hard-working individual, evidence of my purpose have been leaving clues in my path my whole life. Just nobody has ever talked about it. I haven't talked about it. But, I'm a storyteller. I'm a poet. I'm an essayist. I've always been told that I am an articulate speaker. Not in a way that I make sure my consonants are clearly sounded but that I speak in a way which helps my listeners feel as if they are actually walking in my shoes. I have had many roles in my life: child, student, teacher, musician, extrovert, subhuman, retailer. It's time for me to take on a role I was born to take on and that is the role of myself. It's time to tell my story.
So, as of this past Monday, I have stepped down from my verge-of-a-nervous breakdown-fulltime job-with-benefits back to a part time position in little ol' Newport, RI. I will have the time and the perfect level of stress to work on my craft and tell my story. I will take you on the venture and describe the process of what I have to do to get my story (stories) out there. It might take awhile but when it does happen the experience will be worth more than gold because I created it. I am creating a world where I'm accepted, where I'm happy. I will now have a job that I like which will give me the time to do what I am passionate about. It's time.