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Monday, April 8, 2013

Discussion: Happiness as I Grow Older

Found on Facebook...so whoever posted this thanks!

I just celebrated my baby sister Tegan turn 20 years old.  I remember when my brother Matthew turned 20.  And my other younger sister MaryBeth turned 20.  I remember watching kids I had known for years turn 20, even some kids I used to baby-sit.  And I don't think I've ever felt so old

Intellectually I know I'm not.  My birthday is coming up and I'll turn 29 years old.  I am, like every other year, excited for my birthday.  I don't actually care what age I'm turning, I just think that its a special day (because no one wants to live in a world without me right?).  For the better part of my life I also tended to have friends who were a decent age younger than me; I related better with them.  It was only in my mid-20's that I began hanging with people of my age group and older more frequently (though a large-ish percentage of my close friends are still shades younger).

Recently an old HS classmate of mine contacted me (and presumably others in our graduating class) about getting together for a 'reunion' dinner since we never had a 10 year class reunion (with facebook, and the fact my class was never known for school spirit to begin with, its almost redundant to have one).  A fair percentage of my classmates still live in the area, if facebook is to be believed, and apparently some are nostalgic (I don't know why).

I flatly refused.  High School was some of the worst years of my life and while I don't have anything against 95% of my classmates, I wasn't on particularly close terms with that 95% either.  Through facebook a lot of us have reconnected and we will send the odd facebook shout out for this or that, but by in large they ignore me the same way I ignore them.  Until this stupid dinner. 

I know that my life is not what most conceive as 'successful' or 'normal'.  I'm working a job that (with my new payraise) will only just barely cover me and what I need to live outside of my father's house (with a roommate).  Its soul-sucking, and pretty unappreciative most of the time, but it pays my bills.  I only have an associate's degree.  I don't have a significant other or kids.  I spend most of my time reading, blogging about books I read, attending conventions or hanging with my friends.  My savings is basically what I'm saving to attend more conventions (and move out).

My classmates, by comparison, live what society deems 'normal' lives.  They live in apartments (or houses) with their spouses and kids.  They spend their money wisely by saving for their future.  They don't go willy-nilly across the country to interview an author or attend a game convention.  They are in higher management jobs (at the very least) if not high paying other jobs with loads of responsibility.

And they made me feel guilty.  Guilty enough to toss aside my anxieties.  Guilty enough that I was prepared to send an email this morning saying I would attend.  Until I read a post at the Book Snob's blog entitled "Answers on a Postcard".  Basically Rachel came to a realization that I needed to come to.

My 'happiness'...my 'normal' doesn't include working a high responsibility job for a high salary or getting married and learning how to compromise with a husband and kids.  Its not taking vacations to places like Malibu or Miami or whatever.  Owning a house and keeping it up to date in trends of style and decoration.  Its not wearing the latest styles or starving myself to a size 6 or living in the suburbs (though I do right now). 

Running this blog makes me happy (most of the time).  Reading what I want to read or finding a new author for a tour makes me happy.  Attending book signings (even when I can barely talk to the author) makes me happy.  Going to conventions and geeking out about books or games or the internet makes me happy.  I like having the option that if I want to play a game for 5hours on Friday night its hurting no one but me.  I like that I can take an entire Saturday and read for 24hours because I'm beholden to myself.

And yes even though my job makes me stressed and miserable I like the fact that I know my job well enough that people consider me a source of reliable information.  That I have the trust of my coworkers.  Is that selfish? Probably, at least to most people.  This is my life and its the only one I get (putting aside the question of reincarnation, etc etc) and damn straight I'll live it the way I want to.

The fact is I can live the way I am and be happy.  Do I have moments of 'Oh man wish I made $60K!' or 'Wouldn't it be nice to have a significant other right now.'? Sure.  And I hope to one day be able to transition into a job where I am making a salary that's not poverty line and I meet a guy who understands that sometimes I need my space.  But I'm not going to compromise my happiness to conform to those standards.

It took me 29 years, but I found a life I'm happy to be part of.