On Turning 50: Part 1

At 50, I am content in so many ways. And in ways that a lot of people just don't get.

What is most important to me is my own sense of inner peace and my children. There seem to be fewer and fewer people that I want to truly open up to and spend time with. No, I am not calloused. I just think we see more and more people looking to fulfill their own agenda, looking for the easy route, needing validation through other people.

Well, validate yourselves, people. Seriously. Know your own worth.

I still believe in honesty, even at the cost of my feelings. I love raw, bold, outspoken people because I would rather be around people who let me know where I stand with them instead of those who just want to to be liked. I hate being lied to more than anything. Hurt me with the truth, and make me see and understand my faults or at least consider your opinion of my faults, but don't feed me lies. This is a very complex issue with me. I would rather love a friend for all their weaknesses who is honest rather than someone for all their strength in lies. You can't recover from lies in a relationship. Friendship or otherwise. Trust me on this, you can't.

I still love most aspects of my job. The very best part of my job is the interaction I have with students. Yes, there is the asshole or two who makes me angry from time to time, but also there are students who I am now very close friends with. Like Jessica, who was my student way back in the '90s. She is now a colleague and one of my closest friends. I was the reader in her wedding this past summer, and I love her dearly. There are so many other people I have met while teaching at the local community college that have vastly enriched my life. Perhaps some days I say just what they need to hear. It goes both ways, though. Many days one of them says just what I need to hear. That is the amazing way the universe works. And, yes, I believe in that. That there are messages that just make their way to us in the least expected ways at the the right time.

My students inspire me in so many ways. Just tonight I had an online conversation with a former student, Erica. She is now 24 and just graduated from DePaul. My heart hurts for her. She recently lost her grandmother who was her very best friend. We talked about how she needs to write it all out. And in her telling of her need to write it all out, I feel my own need to write it all out. Here I am, all because of her. My neglected blog has come back to life because of students like Erica who say they need to write: "I am doing what you taught me to do." In her trying to find a way to tell her own story, I have felt the need to begin to tell my own. She has made me want to write again.

I cannot even explain what it is like to go to work feeling a bit down about something and having a student say one thing that changes my entire day. There could be 15 shitty things that happen, but that one nice statement changes everything. And, wow, the power of thank you. Just last week I showed the film Amistad in my American literature class. It is a two-hour film, and it took forever. But in the end, my students thanked me. We take so much for granted. On Friday, I took my English I class donuts. They devoured them. And in the end, they thanked me. As I age, I appreciate those thank yous more and more, because we hear it less and less.

I no longer know where I stand politically. All the candidates seem to be arrogant assholes. What has this all come down to? I feel as if the current presidential nomination is nothing more than a reality TV show. Ugh. Enough said.

And I believe what Michael Moore says about the media trying to instill a sense of fear in us. Call me an idealist, but I still believe there is way more good happening in the world. Yes, go ahead and show us that story of a murder about 350 more times. I still don't buy that I should never leave my home alone, especially as a woman. I still believe that in my greatest time of need someone good and honest will be there rather than someone who wants to rape and murder me.

At 50, I really no longer sweat the small stuff, and it, quite frankly, astounds me when someone asserts that I care about something much more than I actually do. I cannot control other people's choices, and I don't care to. I believe that we all choose our own paths.

I am really a simple person trying to find my grounding in an overly complicated world. And you can be assured, I have more to say on all this (hence, Part 1).


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