>Did you know that half the summer is nearly over? That’s just crazy. I sent out a dinner invitation to the summer camp staff last night for next Tuesday so we could celebrate completing exactly half the weeks of camp. Half. How and when did that happen? I feel like in so many ways we are just getting our bearings and figuring this whole thing out, so it definitely feels like summer has only just begun.
>I think I am in serious debt. Remember the Perfect Jar? The one where I put 5 imaginary cents into an imaginary jar every time I use the word ‘perfect’? Well, I’m pulling it out again. Because I think I am slowly but surely losing sight again. Sight of what is and what most certainly isn’t important in life.
Tonight’s post is gonna be a simple one.
I’ve had this topic in mind for awhile, but I haven’t had the time or energy to sit down and write about it. Not that this is the best time, mind you, a time when I should be fast asleep and not pounding down the keys on my laptop. But when inspiration calls, you listen!
This week I have the upmost privilege of working with some of the sweetest kids in Abbotsford at our annual day camps. There are 4 little girls who are just not as athletic as the other kids, so we have been hanging out on the sidelines enjoying the sun and each others company. In true elementary-school-age-fashion, we have been playing Truth or Dare. Classic. Don’t worry though, I have been steering them clear of the “Have you ever kissed a boy?” questions. But today one of them said to me, “Rachel Rabbit…” (pause—that’s the camp name I have been given)… “what are you afraid of?” I thought for a second, but I knew fairly quickly what the answer was.
I’m afraid of being trapped.
In a room, in a car, in a relationship, under water, on the ocean, on an island, in a marriage, in a dead-end job, in an emergency, in a box.
In. A. Box.
There is a Saved By the Bell episode that I watched the other night that freaked me out. It was the senior prom (of course it was), and Jessie and Slater got trapped in the boiler room while they were looking for a ladder and no one could hear them and no one came to look for them. They were just sitting there against a cold cement wall arguing with each other and growing more and more hopeless as time went on.
I hate imagining what that would feel like. I mean in real life. The panic that would set in, and the harsh reality you would have to face.
Sometimes I feel like this is a tangible fear of mine in the sense that one day I could very well get trapped in a physical situation that I can’t get out of, like getting locked in an industrial refrigerator or something. But mostly, I think this fear is really based on something mental. Something unseen.
I think that all parents, teachers, aunts and uncles, and other people of influence in our lives sometimes try too hard to mould us into what they think we should be. From the time we are born, grown ups are thinking hard about our futures. Mostly they will lie and say that they don’t care what you turn out to be, as long as you are happy. But actually, I think that every parent kind of wants their kid to be a little bit like themselves. A chip off the old block. And so they start to make decisions for us about who we can play with and what kind of activities we will do, and if they want us to be really smart they will force us to do extra homework or take summer school.
That in itself isn’t exactly what scares me. Maybe I won’t even be able to define it for you. But I will use one really good example of how a friend and I have been made to fit into two very different and very opposite boxes in life:
Taylor and I were talking about our summer plans the other day, and I told her that I really wanted to take a trip somewhere, like maybe Hawaii. I was expecting her to be excited about that, and maybe even say that she wanted to come, but she didn’t. Instead she said that she thought it was a bad idea because she knows I don’t have a lot of money right now. That was a totally legitimate reply, but it kind of bummed me out. We even had a little mini argument about it. Later that day, we made amends and talked out what had happened. She told me that her whole life she has been taught to work for what you want. In essences, Work Now, Play Later. That was really shocking to me, but it really helped me see Taylor’s point of view. I explained to her next that I was brought up quite differently, in a world where there might not be a tomorrow so get everything out of life you can. Translation: There will always be work to do, so make sure you play hard.
Completely different upbringings. Completely different perspectives. No right or wrong answer.
When I moved to Abbotsford I was 19, and felt very young and nowhere NEAR ready for a serious relationship. Where I grew up nobody was in a serious relationship, actually. So it was a shock for me to move here and find that the girls my age were either married, “courting”, or already knocked up. I couldn’t believe it. I think it is kind of cultural here. So for the last 7 years I have felt really behind the times.
But although it took me awhile, I learned that this was yet another box in life. Only this was a box in which you had to get married and become a wife in order to be happy in life. Kind of like that box where you have to go to university the second you graduate and have a career at 22.
I don’t fit into either of those boxes. Or maybe I don’t fit into ANY box. I am 26 and single, in my very first year of university, still slightly unsure of what I want to do in life. And you know what, people? I am happy. I am surviving. I am gonna make it. Just because I am not married and don’t have a career does not define my happiness.
I am not trapped. I am not trapped. And I am just now realizing this.
In my bathroom I have a message that I cut out of magazine letters and framed. It helps me every single day to realize I don’t need to worry about being stuck in a box. That message means a lot to me. This is what it says:
why can’t you see
freedom is sometimes
another perspective away
There will always be four walls threatening to close in on you if you let them. If you let those stereotypes and preconceived notions and guidelines and rules and traditions in life get the best of you. But the fact is, babies are not born with manuals and nobody, not even God, has ever came up with a formula on how to live your life.
Well, except that we are supposed to love each other. And as long as I am loving others I know I am doing my best.
Also known as…Rachel Rabbit