I need to apologize again for my temporary absence. I got hit with a very bad flu which, of course, coincided with a definite increase in the list of things that I am asked to do for other people as well as myself. I’ve been crawling into work for a few hours a day to make sure that I don’t fall behind on experiments, making lists of things I have to buy and mail, people I have to call within very specific hours, appointments I need to make and bureaucracy I have to take care of on behalf of others. It seems that this week everybody wants a piece of Crys, and that holiday seems like a very, very long time ago. I’m tired, I’m frustrated and I just want to be sick in peace, which has led to a little (for want of a better word) soul searching on my part.
“Being a grown up means making yourself do things that sometimes you don’t want to do”. This mantra has been hammered into me since I was a child and I have deeply internalized it. I try to find compromises everywhere in order to make everyone around me happy, and what would make me happy always gets last priority on that list, because I am always happier when those around me are happy. My mother wants to be with me for Christmas, but she doesn’t get along with my boyfriend at all, and she makes him very tense. So, my two options, obviously, are to either fly down to be with her for Christmas, leaving my boyfriend all alone, or drive her up to Germany and have a crappy tense Christmas and try every which way to make sure she stays in my house as little as possible, right? Notice how what I actually want to do, which is stay here for Christmas with my boyfriend and without my mother, never made that list.
My colleagues say that I need to start doing things that I want to do, regardless of how that makes others feel. For me, that feels incredibly selfish, something I’m not very good at. What am I supposed to do, break my mother’s heart? Leave her completely alone on her favorite holiday feeling like her own family can’t stand her? Turn her passive aggressive feud with my boyfriend into an openly aggressive and hostile one in which they cannot spend a single civilized minute together? Keep giving into her and wind up being one of those women who lives alone with her mother so as to better cater to her every demand?
What is being a grown up, really? Is it learning how to swallow your wants and your needs, and doing things for other people? Or is it learning to find the strength to stand up to others and figuring out what you want to do for yourself, even if that means deeply hurting those around you? These questions are hard for me to answer, but somehow being sick and feverish and still feeling pulled at and requested of have brought them to the forefront of my thoughts.
Right now, I don’t know how to answer these questions. How very stereotypical of me, a “Millennial”, having reached the age of 28 and still identifying with this meme
I might have been the “mom friend” from the age of 12, who made sure that everyone got home safe and didn’t lose their purse on a drunk night out and cooked for everyone including my male friends who wanted to impress their dates, but I still haven’t figured out what it means to be a true adult. The cooking, and cleaning, and paying bills and keeping a job, that’s the easy part (psychologically speaking obviously, not practically). Figuring out where I stand in relation to others, and how to deal with people I love yet don’t get along with at all? Shit, I’ll have to get back to you guys on that one.