When I Was Your Age

Walking across campus these days, I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the complexity of my emotions.

This may sound cliche (it certainly feels that way), but I see younger people than myself moving around doing mindless, ordinary, everyday things and I want to grab them by the shoulders and make them see how much they might take for granted.

Of course that would be awkward. I just see them as being so fortunate to be at this place in this time… doing what I should have been doing at that age (listen to me -I’m not old enough to be going there yet). They have only themselves to care for, life is wide open for them, and they are in it and living for themselves. They have made the right choices to put them into school at the appropriate age.

Sometimes, as I move through the hustle and bustle of people and smells and traffic, far from my domestic duties and my steady stream of days without a sense of personal accomplishment, I feel like a hostage who’s escape is only temporary. I fear being pushed back into the prison of poverty and underwhelming interactions with people who judge me through an inaccurate filter as someone who has nothing worthwhile to offer.

I have become a statistic, just as I feared. When I was young, I wanted nothing more than to be self-sufficient -independent and free. I wanted to be a writer. When I found myself pregnant and single, I wanted to destroy the stereotype and provide a life for us through my own intelligence and hard work.

Now -married, parenting two boys, and struggling to find the funds and the fortitude to finish the 4 year degree I started in 2002- I have boxed myself in with regrets.

I cannot blame my husband for other people seeing me as little more than a wife. I cannot blame my children for other people seeing me as nothing else but a mother. I don’t want someone to blame for my unhappiness. I just want people to respect that the world is not simple and neither is anyone living in it. We all fight our battles every day, but so few of us recognize the struggles of the rest. These judgments are dismissive and ignorant, and ultimately -you are who you judge.

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