Autonomy in the Age of the Universe
I’ve somewhat unintentionally started referring to the combination of fate, social pressure, and God as simply “the universe.” Basically, it’s the combination of both the ethereal and substantive external loci, all pushing in one way or another.
For as long as I can remember, so many of my actions have been done because I have taken these pressures and internalized them. Other people’s opinions and thoughts were given too much weight, and because I didn’t want to disappoint someone, I went with it. I was so afraid that being myself would scare people away, so I kept “me” under wraps for a long time.
It was little stuff, too. I remember shopping for bed sheets for my college dorm room. There were two sets I liked, one striped and one floral. I liked the floral better, but my mom was very excited about the striped set that “was just so Cindy” that I put the flowers down and bought the striped sheets.
With big things, it wasn’t much different: the relationships I had were dictated by the opinions of others. Well, maybe dictated is too strong of a word, but they were completely influenced by others. As a teen, I was told by the popular girls I wasn’t allowed to like a particular guy not because another had “called dibs” already. Wasn’t allowed. And so I tried to not like him. I tried and tried, but the heart (with some urging from those pesky hormones) thinks for itself. The real trouble came when he liked me back. I felt horribly guilty for being the object of his affection because I wasn’t allowed to be by the other girls. Who cares if it was what I wanted, and what he wanted; I didn’t think I had the “right” to want.
That propensity to discount my own desires served me well, for a while, as an officer. Officers are trained to put themselves last, to trust that others know better. It’s so ironic that the efforts put into making me a “better” officer ended up giving me the confidence to push back against it. To decide that what I want matters. And it’s OK to want.
Now, at an age far too old to finally be learning this lesson, I’m getting a clearer picture of what I want. Not what my parents want for me. Not what my friends want for me. Not what my church says I should want. Now what the universe says is OK to want. What I want. Here is what I know I want (so far):
1. My own space, where it is quiet when I want it quiet, not full of anyone else’s stuff, and where I can sleep until whenever on my days off if I want to.
2. My own car, which should happen pretty soon. I’m thankful for being able to share one, but never underestimate the power to come and go as one pleases.
3. I want to be able to eat chicken and peppers five days a week if I feel like it without hearing a single comment about it.
4. I want to work somewhere that doesn’t leave me smelling like work. Even more importantly, I want to work somewhere I love, doing things that make a difference.
5. I want to buy lip stain without worrying about its impact on my budget. I want to have gobs of lip stain. And probably start buying up YSL mascara, too. I’m going to be well painted in YSL by the time I’m done.
6. I want to wear clothing with necklines and seams that make my boobs look good without worrying about whether someone else thinks it’s inappropriate. If I like it, then sod off.
7. I want to start saving for my Australia trip. No matter how poor I am, I need to get on a plane and visit the home I’ve never been to and see family I’ve never met.
8. I want to be in single-digit clothing. I’m not too far away now. But I’m not there yet.
9. I want to kiss Stupid Face just because I like kissing his adorable, stupid face.
10. I want to wear my new magenta dress, pretty shoes, and drink martinis with Brandon and the guys who graciously welcome this straight chick on their occasional birthday parties at the gay bar. Thank God Grant is having a birthday soon, so that dress will have the tags ripped off soon enough!
11. I want to say what I’m thinking without so much self censorship. This might be the hardest. Maybe even harder than getting to single-digit clothing… A tossup at best.
OK, so I want more than that, but I think that’s a decent start at wanting. I want. Whether the universe agrees or not.