Sometimes I wish my life were different.
And no, I’m not talking about my desire for hair without a crazy cowlick or the ability to walk in high heels without towering over my friends, even though those are real things.
I’m talking about my life right now. Here are some examples of thoughts that have crossed my mind this past week:
—Sometimes I wish I didn’t live in Omaha.
—Sometimes I wish I wasn’t dead-set on becoming a professional writer in some capacity.
—Sometimes I wish I wasn’t insanely busy.
—Sometimes I wish I knew the answers to the big logistical questions of life (What career will I end up in? Will I ever get married? Do I want to ever have children? Where will I end up living? Is graduate school in my future?)
—Sometimes I wish I were more sophisticated.
—Sometimes I wish I were less emotionally sensitive.
—Sometimes I wish life were more planned out.
—Sometimes I wish I wasn’t such a “try-hard.”
—Sometimes I wish things were different.
Once I get past the initial thought, I step back and truly examine it. Upon reflection, I have determined that most of these wishes are situational. Or, to put it another way, they have a giant asterisk in the sentence, lurking behind that vague term ‘sometimes.’ Once I acknowledged the presence of the asterisk, they were suddenly jumping out, no longer hidden in camouflage, but practically jumping off of the page at me. Let’s look at the conditional asterisks in the previous statements:
—Sometimes* I wish I didn’t live in Omaha.
*When being verbally heckled in the Baker’s parking lot by a drunk homeless man at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday; when somebody gets shot two blocks away from where I live; when I run out of quarters to feed the parking meter downtown; when muggings become commonplace on campus; when I’m caught in the snarl of rush-hour traffic made worse by water main breaks and seemingly endless road construction.
—Sometimes* I wish I wasn’t dead-set on becoming a professional writer in some capacity.
*When I become caught up in material desires, such as starting salaries and pay grades, instead of my internal desire, no—physical need to express myself with words and sentences and syntax.
—Sometimes* I wish I wasn’t insanely busy.
*When I feel like I haven’t had one moment to myself all day and all the plates I have been juggling crash to the ground. Then I remember that when I am idle, I become a human incarnation of a sloth.
—Sometimes* I wish I knew the answers to the big logistical questions of life (What career will I end up in? Will I ever get married? Do I want to ever have children? Where will I end up living? Is graduate school in my future?)
*When I pretend that I am grown-up, instead of a mildly-confused 21-year-old who is simultaneously thrilled and terrified for the rest of my life.
—Sometimes* I wish I were more sophisticated.
*Until I realize that my Midwestern folksy-ness, while affecting my speech and life outlook, is so deeply entrenched in the fabric of my soul that I could never fully extract it from my person.
—Sometimes* I wish I were less emotionally sensitive.
*Until I remember that the drama of life is what makes it worth living, and that my emotional perceptiveness translates into empathy, which I have identified as a core characteristic of my personality.
—Sometimes* I wish I wasn’t such a “try-hard.”
*When I forget that I was raised to try hard in all that I do, and anything less feels like cheating. Ambition is my mission, and I shouldn’t be ashamed of that.
—Sometimes* I wish things were different.
*When I forget how wonderfully blessed and amazing my life really is.
And with these hidden doubts and worries in plain sight, their subtext shown naked to the world, they suddenly don’t seem so scary. I know that I can conquer them because of the people in my life. Over the past week, a week that has kept me busy and furiously treading water to keep my from drowning in a big steaming pile of Magis, I have had fantastic and honest conversations with a variety of phenomenal people. Knowing I am supported and loved and cared for makes finding the asterisks in life easy.
Do you have any asterisks in your life?