One must know what one wants to be…

“One must know what one wants to be.” Émilie du Châtelet

People said: ‘Oh, be yourself at all costs’. But I had found that it was not so easy to know just what one’s self was. It was far easier to want what other people seemed to want and then imagine that the choice was one’s own.
– Marion Milner

From the ever-wonderful Brain Pickings by Maria Popova ( 
Finding who I am in the world, rather than who others want me to be, is a continual process. I think it is for everyone. And, letting go of my own expectations for myself- based, of course, on others’ expectations of me – to learn who I really am has taken time, and has been one of the more challenging endeavors of my life. 
I don’t think I could have had it all figured out in my twenties. Perhaps if I’d been more self-aware, I could have figured this out in my thirties. But as it is, I’m in my forties. Approaching true midlife, assuming I am fortunate enough to live a long life. Some days, I lament that it has taken so long for me to own who I am, for lack of a better phrase. Yet other days, I realize that without all the experiences and challenges I have faced, I would not be who I am today. 
Evolution requires time, and thought, and the willingness to change. For me, it took more time than I anticipated. 
I think I’m finally okay with that. 
I think I’m finally okay with who I am. 
Still evolving, of course. 
Still growing. 
But growing into being me – not someone else’s version of me. 

Lady Gaga? Seriously?

From her Oscar acceptance speech, 2019: “If you are at home and you’re sitting on your couch, and you are watching this right now, all I have to say is that this is hard work. I’ve worked hard for a long time,” she said. “It’s not about winning. But what it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. There’s a discipline for passion, and it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down, or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave, and you keep on going.”
– Lady Gaga

You never know from where you will obtain a bit of insight for the day.
Treading your own path, not someone else’s, and recognizing that giving up is not going to get you to your goals.

I had runner’s envy at the gym the last few days.
A new member (I guess?). She’s fast. She’s gorgeous. She is a wonderful runner.

I’m slow. I’m nowhere near gorgeous. And I am a plodder.

But I get out there (or in there, as I am mostly a treadmill runner…) and I do it. Because for me, it’s essential to my mental health.

I am not her, she is not me. I need to run my own race (however slow…).

It’s the same at work.

I just saw someone got funding for a grant that’s similar to what I want to do.
I was initially really, really jealous.

And then I realized, her grant info is now publicly available. I can learn from her success.

My race. Not hers.
My study. Not hers.
My life. Not hers.

Accentuate the positive…

Image result for quotes accentuate the positive
I’m trying, I really am. 
I realized that the common denominator for many of my challenges with relationships in the past few years – with my husband, my former best friend, etc. – was my persistence in focusing on the negative and forgetting, quite frankly, about all that was positive in those relationships. 
I was choosing to see the few bad things, and ignoring the good. 
This was particularly true in my relationship with my husband, and the challenges that I, quite honestly, largely created. 
So now… now I am trying to let go. To accentuate the positive. To remember that there is so much that is good in my life, and in these relationships, and in life in general. 
It’s not always rainbows and bunnies, but… it’s a darn good life. And I need to remember that. 

Building my bridge

No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk! 
– Nietzsche

I needed this reminder this week – that I am the only one who can build my life. 

I choose to do what I do. 
I choose to put myself out there – teaching, lecturing, submitting manuscripts and grant proposals. 
For someone who is excessively introverted, this constant placing of the self in front of others – sharing what I have created, what I think is so critical and important, is so so hard. 

It is so hard. 

And yet. 

This is the life I want to build. I want the freedom to ask the questions that I want to answer. 
I want what I do to be driven by my passions, not someone else’s. 

This is my life. I only get one. 

If I don’t build it the way I want it, then, well, it’s not going to be a very fulfilling or happy life. 

Putting my work out there for feedback and (often) rejection is hard. 

The alternative, though, is that I would have to cross someone else’s bridge to build my life. 

I get to build this one. It’s a remarkable privilege, to have this freedom, these choices. 

It’s also a remarkable challenge. One that I need to rise to every single day, every single week. 

It’s been a crap week. Monday sucked. Tuesday was great. Wednesday, sucked. Thursday, meh. (It ended better than I thought it would, so that’s something?)

Friday I have more meetings than I thought possible. 

Then, for two days, my time is completely my own. I need this weekend to reset, recalibrate. 

I am so, so grateful for the privilege, the opportunity to build this life, this bridge, for myself.