When I was in Boston on Sunday, I saw a lot of fresh-faced college freshmen driving around U-Hauls and carrying big boxes into their new dorms. And it made me feel sad. I'm out of chances to start all over. I wished that I could go back to college and figure out my life again. I would go to a different school, be more confident, look better, care less what other people think of me, and take classes just because they sound interesting. I could move to new cities, travel to exotic places, and try new jobs. But really, what I was nostalgic for is the opportunity to define myself.
I thought that going to college meant I could reinvent myself. When I was in high school, I narrowed my choices to four colleges: a tiny, liberal arts college in Maine; a large university in Boston; a small-ish school in Tennessee; and a medium-sized school in Texas. I think that I saw four new visions of me: a sporty, outdoorsy liberal; an outgoing city woman; a preppy Southerner; or ... I'm not sure what I imagined at the last one. But that's the school that offered me a full scholarship, and that's where I went.
I realize now that college didn't define me; I defined myself. Maybe if I'd gone to school in Maine I would have a different accent or have a different job, but I would be the same essential -R- that I am today. And I really don't want to go back to being 18 and having the old issues about confidence and fears about What Am I Supposed To Be Doing With My Life. (Not that I don't still occasionally have those fears, as this whole entry is pretty much just a reflection of last week's minor 1/3 Life Crisis.)
So I'm feeling better now about being old and having already made a lot of the major choices in my life. And I realize that if I did want to move across the country, I really could. H and I aren't being forced to stay here. We live in Minnesota because we like it. And if I want to have a new career, I can. I could go back to school or apply for new things, if I wanted to, but I don't. (Although my current job is taking up a ton of time lately, which is why I have not been blogging much.)
There's another part of me that always thinks my life would be better if it were more like [insert name of other person here]'s life. I am always comparing my situation to others' and deciding that the other person has it better. So I got to hang out with my friend in Maine, and then I thought that I should move to Maine because he and his family love Maine, and he has a great job, and he probably has more friends than I do. And I see people hanging out at the beach, and I think they seem so much happier than I am, so I should move to New Hampshire, and then I could be as happy as them. Why do I do this? I don't know what people's lives are really like. And moving would not necessarily make me happier. Plus I'm not even unhappy now! But I can't stop comparing, and it is kind of a sickness. Ugh.
I think I am over my nostalgia now and am remembering how happy that I am day to day. I really wouldn't trade my life for anyone else's right now. Well, maybe Melinda Gates. But only if H could be Bill Gates. And I could still be 28. And H could still be 29.