(The quote below was found in this book)
“People said: ‘Oh, be yourself at all costs.’
But I found that it was not so easy to know
just what one’s self was.
It was far easier to want what other people
seemed to want and
then imagine that the choice was one’s own.”
- Joanna Field
I celebrated my thirty-ninth birthday last week. This birthday got me thinking (even more than usual) about who I am, who I was, and who I am still struggling to become.
I read Joanna Field’s quote and nodded my head in recognition. Looking back, there have been instances when choices, big ones, weren’t really a choice but more a matter of there being no other choice. For instance, I really didn’t want to graduate high school and begin my college education at a community college (Los Angeles City College). I went to LACC simply because it was the closest college campus to my home, and because it was all I could afford. I didn’t choose to transfer to a university as a non-car-owner and be entirely reliant on public transportation to get me back and forth (six buses a day for that commute). But, I enrolled at California State University Northridge because it was cheaper than a UC school and it offered classes on the semester system rather than the quarter system.
On the other hand, there have been choices, big ones, that were entirely mine. Marriage and parenthood -- the hows and whens have been up to me.
But then there’s my autoimmune disease -- something I certainly didn’t choose. It’s forced me to transition from a career as an elementary school teacher to the life of a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. And while I’m grateful for those gifts, I didn’t choose them. I’m hoping that somehow, somewhere along the line, there may be some choice for me to make, some way of giving myself some control over an uncontrollable situation.