And so there I sat…squirming in my seat, fighting the urge to chew my cuticles. The urge becoming harder to resist as the conversation moves around the room, each time coming closer to me. My turn…it’s coming…oh, won’t they be disappointed or at a minimum, just plain bored.
I chide myself. I should have lied. I should have casually said that I’m a WWII Naval history buff and am working toward my pilot’s license, or that I went to college on a fencing scholarship (or martial arts??)…Oh, I know! That I just finished my 6th marathon and am currently training for an Iron Man. But I can’t lie. While it would certainly make for a better story, it’s not who I am. What do I have to say for myself? Um, I like to read and uh, I’m among the best at hunting down a blow-your-mind bargain, and I enjoy decorating my home, I recently made some curtains for my guest bedroom — I know how to sew a straight line (sort of), I grew up in the capitol city of NC (does that count for something? It is the capitol after all!), went to college in SC, started with the company in our management training program and have been here ever since. Nearly 16 years. I married my husband 11 years ago and that I have a 4 year old son and a 1 year old daughter. Sadly, the only “interesting” (or at best differentiating) fact I can muster is that every living adult in my family graduated from the same university (albeit certainly not an Ivy League one)…or that I collect vintage perfume bottles (??)…even that is only moderately newsworthy, not to mention stretching the truth a bit (truth: I recently bought some on eBay to fill an antique apothecary cabinet in my hall bathroom). The seconds are ticking away and I’m grasping at straws. Some fabulous fact! There must be one, right? It’s just eluding me. Nope. There is none. I settle back in my seat and chew my cuticle.
That weekend my husband and I went to our supper club where I sipped my vodka/soda and chatted with my girlfriends, regaling them with the story of my humbling “offsite” experience. We laughed and schemed about how we’re going to sign up for painting classes (and we really are!) so that next time I’ll have something slightly more engaging to say…and perhaps discover some untapped talent along the way, landing me in Paris painting along the Seine in my golden years. My realization: There is just nothing very interesting about me. Is that ok? Is it okay to not be fabulously different? Or important in the eyes of others? Is it okay to always walk the “straight and narrow”? To do the right thing—from High school cheerleading and Honor Roll, to the safe haven of a lovely Southern campus, Football Saturdays, Delta Delta Delta and Dean’s List, straight into work in the management training program of a Fortune 500 company (back in the welcoming arms of North Carolina). While many of my peers were backpacking around Europe, or “finding themselves” in elite towns out West among the snow capped mountains, I was sitting in a 5 x 5 cubicle with a 401K at age 22. And since then, 16 years have somehow blown past me. I certainly don’t want to sell myself short. I’ve accomplished some notable things along the way on my “resume of life” (according to my standards)… regular volunteerism in the community, a 6-month assignment for my company in a bustling and breathtaking CA city, a half marathon, a handful of trips to other continents, a few notches in my belt along the career track with a corporate title that seems to be impressive to those outside the four walls of my company, and perhaps the list goes on. Of course it goes without saying that the most important thing I’ve accomplished (and likely ever will) is the creation of two amazing little people who call me “Mommy.”
And so, life marches ahead…the days of our lives tick away. Nothing fabulous or earth-shattering happens. And the reality is that just maybe we’re lucky for that. I’ve often said that an uneventful life can be a good one. My life isn’t amazing or interesting to Ivy-Leaguers sitting around a high-rise conference room, or those looking for entertainment in a column in Vogue. But that’s probably just fine, if you’re someone like me who tends to play it safe. So, I’ll start those art classes and maybe take up hot yoga. And who ever really knows? Perhaps there is still a chance that I’ll write the “great American novel”, broker world peace, discover some profound scientific breakthrough, or paint a great masterpiece. But until then… I’ll rush through my work days being productive and efficient. And I’ll savor every second of story time and cuddling, trying to tuck the memories away so tightly in my head that they’ll last a lifetime. It’s no “Sex in the City” life, but it’s just satisfying enough for me.