All of my life, I have been a people-pleaser. I could not handle disappointing any person at any given time and help myself to the highest standard. My standard was being perfect so that everyone would love me. Now, as you can imagine, it is not easy to be perfect and it comes with a high price. Throughout my high school career, I maintained straight A's, was active in many extra-curricular activities: marching band, concert band, concert choir, chorus, the school newspaper and committees for every single dance that we had at the school. You see, it was ingrained in me that I would never be anybody if I didn't go to college. Not quite in those exact words; more like, "Life is so tough and only people with a college degree can make a real living. Don't be like me. I dropped out/I never went to college/your aunt was the only one who went to college/I am counting on you/You are so smart/You should get your doctorate by the time you're 30/etc. So, I joined every club that I possibly could and volunteered too, because everyone around me knew what was best for me (or so I believed for a very long time).
I graduated with honors from high school as a member of the National Honor Society. However, I was isolated from many of my classmates and every single day, I felt like I was walking on a tight rope. I had to maintain the perfect image for the people whom I was closest to and I could not screw up. Screwing up was not an option, even if I was trying to find myself. I could find myself when I was 62 and retired; I did not matter at all. Only the act that I could put on did. In the meantime, I have always been lonely when in a room full of people as my head and heart were pulling me in different directions and nobody could possibly understand. But I do believe there are readers who do understand and if you do, please share your own experiences.
I was told that I could pay back someone close to me for everything he's done for me by graduating from college. By the way, this was five years ago after changing schools three times and majors four times. I was chasing a dream of being a teacher so that I could make a difference in the lives of children and work Monday thru Friday and have summers off. Why? Because everyone told me that is the best career and at one time in my life, I believed it was too. After student teaching, I can tell you that teaching is not just from 9-3 with summers off because the best teachers, like my cooperating teacher, work their butts off to get to know their students, plans amazing lessons in a timely fashion and either stay late at school or take their work home with them. I could get into a lot more detail but that is not at all what this blog is about. It was reinforced in me that working in childcare was not "a real job." I needed "a real like" which in many people's minds means being a teacher.
I was pregnant when I returned to university and remained a full-time student until J was born. I had the summer off and in September, he was 4 months old and I returned to school once more. I quickly found that it was extremely difficult to be the mom I wanted to be, take care of all of J's special needs, keep up with my school work, keep in touch with my family and most, to be happy. I was burning the candle at both ends with the motto in my head that "winners never quit." I had to be a winner, even if it mean losing my identity. At night, I would lay down in bed and cry. I really just wanted to be a SAHM or a WAHM but that what would everyone think of me? I would be happy, but everyone else would think I was a loser. I couldn't let that happen.
Determined to make everyone proud, as I started to have anxiety attacks, stopped sleeping, cried at the drop of a hat and started to lose my patience with J from being pulled in all directions, I took the Praxis 2 so that I could so my professional field work and graduate. I also took a class called American Drama with a certain professor who will remain unnamed; one of the best plays we read in that class is Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. What I took away from that play was that you can either work yourself into the ground until your life no longer matters like Willy Loman did, or you can follow your heart as his once-upon-a-time-football-hero son did. I really wanted to follow my heart, but I had to get my B.A. because financially, my husband and I were strained and it all fell on me to bring home the bacon someday. I passed three sections of Praxis 2: Language Arts/Reading, Science and Social Studies. I failed math the first time and retook it four more times.
After tutoring, reconnecting with God and major soul searching, as well as therapy and medication management for depression and anxiety that caused me an inability to function in my life, I said a little prayer before my fifth time. My husband recently attained an amazing job that pays him well and we are no longer living paycheck to paycheck; we are saving up to buy a house of our own (we live with his parents right now and have since 2008). That means that the dream that I kept a secret from everyone but a select few is now possible and I am going after it. I plan to become certified in first aid and CPR for infants and children once again, get a job as a nanny, save every single penny I make plus part of my husband's salary as well. We will buy a house once we have enough saved up, because my father-in-law works in real-estate with a family friend and they will help us look at all avenues for a good home. Once we buy a house, my husband and I will be trying for baby #2!
Now here comes the rest of my dream, because that was just part of it. After the baby is born and I am cleared to work at 6 weeks pp, I will be offering childcare during regular hours in my home on the books. I will be doing whatever it takes and caring for up to five children in my home because the law allows it, and I can handle that many children after working in a daycare and as a nanny for 6 years. Someday, I will save up and rent a building to move the daycare to and my current families will have first dibs.
Love it or hate it, this is my dream and I'm going for it! I'm finally allowing myself to be happy and no longer worrying about anyone else's opinion; I'm 31 and it's time to live for me.
What's your dream?