Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Girl I'm Meant to Be

As I was reading blogs last night, I came across a thought-provoking entry from Markings: Days of Her Life. The post was about women, careers and expectations, but from a personal, rather than societal point of view. She quoted a poet who had written "I'm not half of what I'm meant to be" and then she talked about how she too wasn't half of what she was meant to be.

What an interesting concept: What we're meant to be.

I remember taking a test in high school which essentially was supposed to tell you what you wanted to be when you grew up. I don't remember any of the questions at all, but I remember the results quite vividly. The results were provided both as a written narrative and as a kind of chart. It was a circle sectioned off into quarters, like a pie (PIE!). Your strengths were displayed as a point somewhere within the circle. Different quarters represented different disciplines, such as science or literature or mechanical aptitude or the arts.

I remember being excited to take the test, because I was never one of those people who had known since the 3rd grade exactly what they were going to be when they grew up. I thought the test might provide some insight that I hadn't noticed.

I got the test back and looked at the graph. There was the circle, divided into four beautiful quarters. And my point? My tiny dot that held the answers to all my questions and was nothing less than the key to my entire future? It was smack-dab in the center like a bullseye. It was equidistant to every single occupation listed on the sheet. When I found the narrative, what it told me was that essentially, my options were wide open. But I didn't know whether wide-open options meant: 1. I was so smart I could do anything I wanted, 2. I was so scattered I couldn't stay with one thing very long before I got bored, or, 3. I should really stop making Christmas Tree Patterns on bubble test sheets. So much for standardized enlightenment.

I'm not half of what I'm meant to be.

There are lots of measurable things in my life: height, weight, the weekend to-do list, how many miles before the next oil change, and the number of times TeenTuna informs me that "I'm just not listening to her." These answers, in case you're curious, are as follows: Average, I just bought smaller jeans last week so suck it, down to 7 because I RULED the to-do list today, I bet I can last a little longer, and, I don't know the answer and the reason I don't know the answer is because even though she TOLD ME THE ANSWER, I'm just not listening to her (eyeroll -- exasperation -- stomp!)

But I don't know how to measure existence or life-long potential. And honestly, I don't know whether I'd want to. The results might not be pretty. Maybe I'd discover that not only am I not half of what I'm meant to be, maybe I'm not even a quarter. Maybe not even a tenth. Maybe my minuscule potential percentile means I'm nothing more than an enormous ball of missed opportunities and disappointment. On the other hand, what if I found out that I'm all I'm meant to be? That this is it? That I can't get any better or do any more? That I'm tapped out? That would be some undeniably depressing news.

The best I can do is be content with who I am at the end of the day. Acceptance is hard enough to come by from others, but seems nearly impossible when we ask if of ourselves. I don't want to live a life that is measured by points on a graph. But at the same time, I want to be sure I always have goals and hopes and dreams and yes, even to-do lists. There has to be something to work towards, something to think about, something to plan for, and something to conquer every day.

And that is what I'm meant to be.
Accepting of myself today.
Planning, hoping and dreaming for tomorrow.
No measuring required.


Antoinette said...

Wonderful conclusion, and so true. And because accepting oneself IS so hard, that's another goal :)

annie said...

This was very interesting. I think you probably could, actually, have done (and could still do) just about anything - you have good analytical/pragmatic skills and are also good with language and the arts, you are a good teacher, a good observer, and even a good swimmer. That's pretty rare, I think.

By the way, I don't remember anything about the results of those tests other than that mine were predictable, but my brother was directed towards "clergy" and "rodeo clown" among other things. That's kind of like being a doctor, isn't it?