A dear friend emailed me yesterday about my future son-in-law’s great job news (he started today and it went pretty well … 2 hours of OT on his first day). She has struggled/been struggling the last couple of years and felt like she was taking their good fortune and turning it into a Debbie Downer conversation because of her own circumstances. I did not take her comments that way at all, because I know her heart and I know she is very happy for A.
Still, the fact that she felt the need to apologize for not being more demonstratively overjoyed got me thinking. Right now, she is working very hard and making slow progress at debt repayment. Her life has grown more stable than where she was just a short time ago, but when you live on a paycheck-to-paycheck budget while in paying off debt it seems like the bills will never be done and there will never be enough disposable income to not panic with every immediate car repair, home repair, medical bill. I have been in her shoes and remember it vividly; it is one of the many things that keep M and I almost debt-free (we still have a mortgage).
From where she is right now in life, feeling discouraged about the slow debt progress and working 2 jobs to pay the bills, it probably seems discouraging to see others get a break and a better paying employment. This to me seems like human nature. She was her usual self, so gracious and genuine in her congratulations and good wishes. Yet I suspect she felt a little defeated by the news, and likely comparing herself, wishing that she too was getting a better paying job with a higher wage.
Through her life’s lens, this tale looks like a happy ending and happily ever after, and in some ways for my daughter and son-in-law it is that. I understand her wishful comments, looking forward to better days for herself and her family. I tell her frequently that things are getting better, that progress is slow but there IS incremental progress. For the most part she believes me. But when you are tired and beaten down, you stop really hearing the cheerleaders in your life. And that’s okay. Because I am not a cheerleader who stops when your attention turns elsewhere for awhile. I will still be here when you look back.
I have been thinking about off and on all day today, and I realize that how we view events that cross our paths impacts our attitudes and our feelings about our own life and times. I overlook this frequently in my own life, until I am so distressed by what I am immersed in that I have to shut down and take a break from watching the news or reading certain types of blogs. It is far too easy for me to start finding imperfections in my thinking, in my writing, in my personality, in my life. The negative forces are with me, all the time, inside my own head, and when I get weakened and start listening to the snarky, negative voices and give in to that shade of darkness.
I am still not the uber positive blogger, and I am actually grateful for that. I would not be as real if there was only white bread goodness here whenever I posted.
I strive to be the realistic version of myself, warts and all. I am the one who receives good news from others and sometimes, while gracious and happy for them, wishes it were me, wishes I were so fortunate, wishes I could have that relief. To covet what others have is human, I think, and does not make me Darth Vader piloting the death star targeting earth and all humanity. In fact, just today I was thinking (and posting) about an associate who possesses great and mysterious skills in marketing and dealing with clients. I perceive her doing her job as graceful and effortless, whereas in reality she is working hard and exhibiting learned and well-honed skills. IF I wanted to work at it and put forth the buckets of blood, sweat and tears to learn to behave in a similar manner, I could probably master it as well. If I had the time, energy, and appropriate funding to return to college and seek out opportunities within that field, I might be able to embrace and acquire the ability to charm and sell.
Where I’m going with this rambling tale of various things … my “lens” tells me that I lack the temperament to do marketing and/or sales. Based on my life and experiences, I would likely hate the entire process of trying to learn and adapt myself to that particular career field. Just like my dear friend, feeling like she turned something that should be happy and joyful into something about her and a personal tale of woe, her lens is a little dim right now, growing weary beneath the weight of sole financial responsibility and clearing a backlog of debt. Her apology was unnecessary, but I understand how she felt and what she meant. Things are improving every day. One day she will look out through her life’s lens and realize the sun is shining and her view of her life is absolutely stunning in the brightest sunlight.
I am looking forward to that day, because together we will pull out the album documenting her journey from here to there and marvel at all the places she has been and the obstacles overcome.