Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I'm 50!

Knowing things before they happen. We wish we knew what was ahead so we could plan for it now. I live in the hub of young single people in Provo and I've heard many times the phrase, "if I just knew when I was going to get married, I would feel better and I could just have fun until then." I don't think this is a surprising notion to my fellow singles. Outside the sphere of singledom, the same struggle exists, but in a different skin. The unemployed looking for work or couples dealing with infertility, for example. We all yearn for certainty in the future so we can feel good about the present.

I was plopped on my roommates bed just an hour ago regaling the evening's events and not sure how we got onto this subject, but we started talking about meeting our past, present, and future selves. Oh, I remember how. I was thinking about how fascinating/embarrassing it would be to watch myself from within another human. We talked about what we would say to our 4, 12, 50, 60 year-old selves. Would we be friends with our current selves? Would we have the same thoughts because we are the same person, or would it depend on the mood we're in? If we came from totally different backgrounds, would we understand each other? Would we recognize each other? So crazy, right? Whatever room you are in, look at the door and imaging yourself walking in. How would you feel? What would you say? Would you welcome it or reject it?

I had emotional reactions to the ages 4 and 50, so I'm going to talk about those two a little bit.

What would I say to my 4 year-old self?
I would tell myself that I am of great worth. I would hug me and and kiss my cheek and tell me how loved I am. Right now as I close my eyes and imagine it, I feel so much love for this cute, chubby-cheeked, bubbly (that's how my mom describes me) little girl. How is it that I struggle to feel that now? Why does my age change the way I feel about myself? It is my strongest desire that she know her potential. I don't want her to hold back because of fear and I don't want her to be intimidated by hard things. She is so capable and I want her to believe it.

Me in kindergarten

What would I say (or rather, ask) my 50 year-old self?
This is where things come full circle. My initial instinct is to ask her to tell me everything happens from now til then. Do I get married and have kids? Am I happy? Do I have a career and if so what am I doing? What have I learned? What have I become? Is it gonna be hard? All these things.

As appealing as it sounds to know the end (not that age 50 is the end, but for the case of my argument we'll go with it) from the beginning, Imma have to pass on that one. Uncertainty. Discomfort. We need them. Terryl and Fiona Givens discuss the concept in their book, The Crucible of Doubt, like this:

"The grand project in which we are engaged is one that moves us away from stasis, ease, comfort, and equilibrium, and toward an end that is yet to be determined--precisely because our choices are yet to be made. . . it is the tension itself, the irresolution, the ambiguity and perplexity of our lives, the very feelings of alienation, estrangement, and dislocation, that are our rescue from the complacency and stasis of an eternal Eden. Like the sand in the oyster shell, the torment of uncertainty is at the same time the spur to our spiritual vitality and growth."

A-freakin-men. I love that. If someone had told me at age 20 that I'd be single at age (almost) 29, my little heart might have shriveled up and died.  I would have seen that as such a horrible circumstance for myself. I didn't get it. However, being 29 (nearly) and single is not terrible. It's actually great. Unexpected, but great. I like who I have become and the role of marriage in my life's play hasn't made an appearance in a single scene.

I'd say the overarching theme of my young adult years so far has been the quest to understand myself and the discoveries have been absolute gems. Sometimes it's real hard and lots of times I'm real confused, but I understand myself so much more now than I did nine years ago. I could never have known at age 20 what a delight it is to have gotten to this point. Y sin esposo.

Uh, on second thought, maybe I do want to meet me at age 50.
I'll be looking pretty fly.

Life, you guys. LIFE! Sometimes you want to kick it in the face because it's so frustrating, but other times you want to kiss it all over because it's just so awesome! To experience is a beautiful thing.

(A little help with the title of this post if you didn't catch the reference)

Did I mention that I met Molly Shannon?


Megan J. said...

Ideas for a title: Time Warp; Then and Now; What I Really Think of Myself; At What Age Do I Finally Get To Say What I Want?

Those are just a few. It was a very interesting discussion last night! Glad you wrote about it! :)

Kiley said...

I want to kiss that four year old Shelly, too! But not on the cheeks, the lips. That is more our style. I would kiss the 50 year old Shelly on the cheeks though, because seriously, look at those fleshy selves! Kiss them! Why does that website think the only symptom of age is chubby cheeks? That's not real. Did you see that commercial during the Super Bowl about how young girls self image changes with age. It was cute and sad.

Kiley said...

Oh, and I think the title should be, 'fleshy selves.'

Emily Richards said...

There's this Brad Paisley song called "Letter to Me" which is basically everything a country song should be, so ya know, cheesy and story-like. But it's cute and it always makes me think about what I would say in a letter to me 5, 10, 15 years ago and so on.

Also, you're one of those people I always think "WHY hasn't someone snatched her up!?"

Shelly said...

I will listen you that song, Emily. Thanks for sharing! Also, thank you for saying that. #jointheclub

Shelly said...

Kiley, I will kiss you any day.

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