The Cold Penguin

expanding the box

Challenge of the Week: Defining a Life

on June 9, 2014

You know that song Losing my Religion by R.E.M?  I’m finding it a little to close to home right now.  Though it’s not about religion, and one can argue that the REM song isn’t about religion either.  It’s about self.  I feel like I’ve lost myself.

I think all of my life I’ve followed along with the crowd.  A lot of this has to do with my childhood.  Being the youngest of two siblings, born 7 years after the other, my voice was often unheard.  As a child, of course my older brother’s teenage voice and opinion was much more important than my own.  And somewhere along the way I learned to just do what I was told or what was expected.  Not that I didn’t have my rebellious moments, but really they were few and far between.

And as an adult, I’m still in those patterns.  As a single adult, I was still very much treated like that of the much younger child. Me, a single gal renting a one bedroom apartment, had little say in what family activities were going on.  I was to follow the leader, which was generally the busy family of 4’s (my brother’s family) schedule.  So I spent my time going to t-ball games, dance recitals and watching the kids play in their yard or living room.

And with friends, yep, a follower as well.  I was never one to pick up the phone and call a friend to hang out.  It did happen, but probably not as much as it should.  I never suggested things to do.  I would just tag along with whatever my friends wanted to do.  My family life carried over into my friendships.  And obviously friendships don’t grow strong and last when you act like that.  I had a few friends call me on it.  They were right, but I always had excuses in my back pocket too.

So in general, I was taught early on my opinion didn’t “count”, so I just stopped having an opinion and went along with what the group said or did.  That is not a very good way to develop social skills or a sense of self.

(Note, I’m not blaming anyone, just sharing my thoughts.)

And now here I am, a married woman, and I just follow the lead of my husband.  I feel like I’m riding on his coat tails, just hoping he’ll bring me along for the ride.  And we have the typical conversations I have with really anyone in my life prior:

Him: “What do you want to do tonight?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

And yes, he has called me out on not making decisions too.

With this said, if I really don’t want to do something, I won’t and I’ll make it clear.  But, if I’m impartial, I won’t say yes, I won’t say no, I won’t say a word.

This leads to a lot of missed opportunities, frustrations, and boring nights spent staring at the television.

This also leads to my quarterly breakdown because I’ve become so overwhelmingly frustrated with my lack of life that I lose it.

And yes, I had one of those this weekend.  My husband’s life right now is busy, and mine is free and clear, nothing but free time.  While I spend my free time reading, cleaning or watching tv, and usually bored and feeling a bit bad for “wasting my life”, he is out socializing with co-workers at sporting events, experiencing new things and going on vacations with his friends, leaving me in the dust.

I want him to live his life and have fun.  And I feel guilty for being jealous and wanting him around because I’m bored.

So what to do?  That’s a tough question.  One I’ll be thinking about A LOT.

My challenges idea for the blog was designed to help me get this “life” I’ve been craving.  But I’m not sure it’s leading me down the right path.  Either I’m not focusing on the right things, not challenging myself enough, or both.

Usually I jump into joining a group (like my book club – which I didn’t go to on Sunday), signing up for volunteer positions (which are about as hard to get as a job!) or apply for jobs (jobs are still very hard to get!).  None of those have been working though.  So what will?

But I guess that’s my challenge for this week.  To think about specific steps (and some vague one’s too) to help better my life.  Because what’s going on now, let me tell you, it’s not working.

If anyone has any thoughts, suggestions, books, articles, etc. you think can help me, please pass those along!  I’m gonna need all the help I can get on this one.



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