For the first 23 years of my life, I lived as an outspoken, self-assured, (generally) likeable woman who never viewed a task too big to handle. I left college with a world of opportunities that seemed to be thrown at me from all directions. For about a year I rode a wave that very few recent college grads have the chance to experience – job referrals, invites to represent reputable organizations and new friends who I would never have imagined knowing on a personal level. My friends from home saw me as the girl who “got out” and had this crazy and successful life in the big city. I thought I was able to handle anything and that life could be one big successful event… With so much passion and determination to change the world, how could I possibly go wrong- I mean, the first couple years after college are supposed to be the hardest, right? I thought I would just sail on through without a second glance.
Well, I was wrong. Grossly wrong. Instead of following my passion and traveling with my heart – something I like to think I had been successful at through college – I let this idea of “success” define who I was. I reorganized my life with the promise of success, pushing my passion to the side and entertaining that as an extra-curricular activity. As I soon (not soon enough) realized, changing my priorities to conform to others ideas of success began to wear me down not only as a young professional, but as a friend, an activist and even a writer.
Nothing is more exhausting and has a more negative impact on a person than convincing oneself to change for the perception and gratification of others. Deeply in denial, I convinced myself that the changes I was seeing were simply what I had to do to get what I ultimately wanted, to be able to make the difference in this world that I was once so passionate about. I thought that these changes in me were well masked to those with whom I worked, loved and respected. It turns out I’m not as good at fooling others as I am at fooling myself. With my shifting attitudes came changes in my happiness, and worst of all was the misguided priorities. Instead of facing the obvious, listening to my heart and actually allowing myself to evolve into the person I was meant to be, I figured that it would be easier to completely blow off my dreams, passions and commitments. I knew I wasn’t acknowledging them anyway – so I simply shut down. My writing stopped, I disappeared from the community, and I filled my time with relatively meaningless activity, always hoping no one would notice the complete void in my life.
It took “one of those weeks” where a series of events led me to such an uncharacteristic low that it freaked me out enough to wake me up. Instead of controlling my life, I was letting circumstances control me. It took an “intervention” of sorts from my mom to remind me of who I am… And it sure as hell is not a woman who lets others and their standards bring her to the point of unhappiness and unwilling willingness to just give up. It dawned on me- if I can’t even fool my mom, who lives 400 miles away then there’s a pretty good chance I am not fooling anyone else within a couple feet- or an earshot- of me.
I like to think that I have learned from and will continue to grow from certain life lessons. Don’t get me wrong, there are many MANY more lessons to learn, but I am so thankful that I am surrounded by those who won’t let me get away with being less than all I plan to be. They make me think twice (which also makes me glad I am an over thinker.) If I am going to continue my life aspiring to be an impatient mover and shaker, I better learn to learn from my mistakes – otherwise I have a life ahead of me filled with nothing but disappointment. I made a huge mistake – I let the “real world” get inside of my idealistic and all so often pragmatic brain.
I have met countless lesbians who talk about the old dreams they had – to make a difference and change the world. A majority of these women speak of these dreams as something of their past, something they gave up when reality stepped in to take over and life got too busy to stay on course. These women once had advocacy goals similar to mine, but those goals and the enormous amount of work involved were not jiving with the way the majority of them wanted to live their lives. Besides, there are so many young and untarnished activists who are there to pick up their slack, so why not step aside for the next generation?
You see, it’s not always easy to follow a passion when day to day outsiders and even those closest to us step in with their two cents. “Do you think it takes just one person to change the world?” How do you plan to pay your bills in a life of activism and philanthropy? 80 hours a week?! What about settling down and having a normal life.” It makes me sad that so many have been encouraged by society to live within the norms, and even more so that they folded, leaving their dreams to the younger (and less experienced) generations to pursue.
I am far from purged of the bad habits I have picked up in the last year, but I am aware of the ones that I surround myself with. It’s not easy anymore, and the reality of balancing my own passion-filled life with the circumstances I have found myself in has finally set in- and no, I am not giving the haters what they want by leaving those passions in the dust.
As I conclude this World Wide Web declaration, I feel more than relieved that I am back here on my couch, focusing on the here and now, my challenges and successes, and writing again. Your passion, whatever it may be, is never going to disappear no matter how hard you might try and mask it by accepting the way things are. Luckily, a few months have been enough to wake me up so that I can take back the reins of conformity and rise to the next challenge. I understand that if everyone let the trivial things in this life wear them down, we would never progress- as individuals or a community overall.
Believe it or not, the election season is just getting underway. Even more immediately is the controversial NATO summit that is taking place in under a month which is expecting thousands of protesters from around the country who are fed up with the actions of International Organization. In the next few months, you will all be sure to hear about candidates, issues and events on the international stage that are sure to blow your mind… And those are just the events that are on the calendar!!! With the issues that are plaguing our community everyday, we deserve to have a place to turn to learn, discuss and instigate movement toward change and a better world.
Take some time to get involved – reach out to me if there is a topic, issue, agenda you wish to hear more about.
I am back in my chair at the Ovary Office – here to make sure that we are educated, informed and able to effectively take control of our future, one woman’s passion at a time.
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Lauren was born and raised in South Minneapolis and like many other innocent midwesterners got sucked into the black hole of Chicago politics 4 years ago. As the LGBT Coordinator for the Gery Chico for Mayor Campaign she attempted to take on the entire city and hasn’t looked back since. Now working for a communications firm, she spends her extra time running around with cases of PBR playing in different sports leagues, hosting couchsurfers from all over the place, and deciding how she is going to change the world. A simple lady at her core, she has decided that the first person to send her an edible arrangement must be the one.