When I Grow Up…
I started thinking about Tae Kwon Do on the train on the way home, which made me remember the horror of 6th grade square dancing in PE class which made me think about the goals I’ve set for myself throughout my life. (Yay, stream of consciousness!)
As I’ve noted before, one of the things that broke me down in Tae Kwon Do was the regularity with which we had to choose partners. Imagine not only having to TALK to somebody you don’t know, but also having to work directly with them and maybe even touch each other. *shiver!*
The first time I recognized the pain of partnering up was in that 6th grade square dancing section of PE. I LOVED PE up to that point. I loved to play games and be physical! But suddenly, I was betrayed. “Everyone grab a partner!” *sigh*
PE had turned into an activity based on being chosen by a boy for your popularity and looks. For the first time I realized I was a fat, ugly, naive nerd. And at about the same time, I started being picked on because of my awkwardness. I didn’t want anybody to think they’d made me cry or hurt my feelings, so I developed an armor of smart-ass, loud words and held my tears and pain in my stomach and my heart. And then I ate more to comfort myself.
The thing that helped me power past all of that was my goal of being an athlete. My brother, Mike, had played high school football and baseball. My cousin, Scott, was a state wrestling champ. And my cousin, Dennis, played baseball at the University of Tennessee and had an amazing, glittering collection of his trophies on display in the living room of his house. Every time I went there to see Granny or Aunt Jo or Dennis, I would stare at those trophies and count them and covet them.
I was the only girl on either side of the family and I wanted to prove I could keep up with those boys. They were my heroes! I wanted to letter in as many sports as I could and have a high school letter jacket just like they did. I wanted to get more trophies than Dennis had in that living room!
So I didn’t build myself in adolescence (not that I even would have known where to begin) as a pretty, soft and social girl. I set out to accomplish those athletic goals. (You didn’t have to be pretty or accepted to shoot free throws or hit homers. #marlahooch )
Concentrating on sports made the hurt from the bullying, and the lack of attention from boys secondary.
Even though I was a terrible player, I made the middle school basketball team on sheer hustle. I remained an outstanding softball player. My basketball team went undefeated and won the county championship my 8th grade year. I was one of three or four freshmen who made the softball team when I moved to high school. I continued to play basketball, and in the spring, threw shot and discus on the track team. I wound up lettering in three sports: 4 years in softball, 4 years in track and 2 years in basketball. I got that letter jacket and I wound up with more trophies than Dennis!
That goal I set for myself in elementary school had come to fruition after eight years of hard work.
In college I decided I wanted to work at Camp Glisson during the summers. This was just a matter of making it through the application process, but again, it was something I wanted to do, set my mind to and accomplished.
In high school, I decided I wanted to go to seminary after I graduated from college. I followed through, applied and got in.
But this is where everything starts pulling out of focus and heading off the rails. Yes, I got in. But I didn’t finish. For various reasons, seminary whipped my ass. It whipped my pride. It whipped me socially. It whipped me emotionally.
I started drinking to cover the pain that time, and really floundered for a couple of years until I met my future ex-husband playing coed softball. We got married and built a future together. But I didn’t really have any goals in mind. (And certainly didn’t have the goal of getting divorced 10 years later.)
And I haven’t had a real goal since then either.
I’ve finished three marathons and busted my ass to reach my goal in the last one. So my ability to set a goal and work like crazy to meet it is still there.
But I don’t really have any meaningful goals I want to reach. Isn’t that something grown-ups are supposed to have?
Shouldn’t there be something I want to accomplish? Something I want? Something I really care about?
Couldn’t someone just tell me what those things are?
Frankly, I still feel exactly like I look in this picture from when I was two or three.
Can’t we just play ball, eat supper, have somebody read us a story and fall asleep? Isn’t that enough any more?