The problem with having a strong opinion AND an outspoken personality is that when you make finite statements that include the word “never”, well, you sentence yourself to be judged by a jury of your friends and family when you change your oh-so-made-up-at-the-time mind. I may have been heard saying things like, “I NEVER want to have kids,” “I’ll NEVER move to a small town,”“I NEVER want to own my own business,” “I would NEVER be caught driving a minivan,” and “I will NEVER be that mom.” Okay, so how many of those self-fulfilling prophecies have I had to eat? Every. Single. One.
At the very enlightened age of 37, I find myself an owner of two businesses, a mother of two children, a past owner of a minivan, a recent transplant of my own doing to a small town, AND… I have been that mom… more times than I care to admit. Now, maybe you’re a little more careful than I am with the wordings of your spoken statements, but the 180 degree shifts in my thinking have me wondering what has happened to me that has so drastically changed my mindset.
When you’re young, you think that you have your whole life planned out: what you want to do, what you don’t want to do, what you can or can not accomplish. Upbringings can influence your ways of thinking as well; parents sometimes push their children to do things that are more so their own unfulfilled life goals. And societal norms also influence our thinking about we should or shouldn’t be able to do.
Women in general face an uphill battle in the work world and in the home-life world. Society wants us to want to be mothers – the best Pinterest-type moms, but it also demands that we are strong work-driven women who can succeed at both cleaning and breaking the glass ceiling. It’s an unattainable perfection, all while being underpaid and under-appreciated, I might add.
In my case, saying that I NEVER wanted to have kids was my selfish, youngest child self who was born without the mothering gene speaking; I didn’t yet have an understanding of what was really important to me in life. Yes, I’d slap my younger self if I could go back in time, but some lessons can’t be taught. They must be learned, and often the hard way.
Not wanting to move to (or rather, move back to) a small town was my inner fear of racial hardships rearing its ugly head and telling me to avoid the issue altogether. Having grown up in a small town where everyone knew everyone else’s business, I wanted no part of that until, of course, that’s all I wanted: people that recognized me at the grocery store, connections in and to a community that I didn’t know I would come to yearn for more than the most poignant of pregnancy cravings.
My aversion to owning my own business stemmed from growing up the daughter of parents who were overworked and under-appreciated in their small town grocery store/gas station business – a business that stole their youth, the vacations we were supposed to have, and precious time that can never be relived. Yes, the business was their life and provided for our family, but the stress and unpredictability that came along with it made life frustrating at times. Regardless, entrepreneurship was in my veins, and while being a business owner is not easy, it is very rewarding and I, in my businesses, don’t have to deal with most of the logistical nightmares that they did.
The minivan thing – well, I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about. No one wants to drive a minivan, but unfortunately, there are times when the purchase becomes a necessity. “It’s so practical”… blah, blah, blah – still looks like a minivan, drives like a minivan, IS a minivan. (I believe that’s why you see so many aggressive minivan drivers – they’re mad that life has forced them to drive a minivan and minivan syndrome is why you see so many mid-life crisis-ers with convertibles or sports cars… just sayin’!)
Oh, and being “that” mom is being the mom whom everyone is staring at because her child is throwing some sort of epic arms-and-bodily-function-flying public tantrum. We’ve all been there, and if you haven’t, it’s only a matter of time. Before I had kids, I tooooooootally was the one sneering at moms with screaming kids at Target or at restaurants. “Why can’t she control her kid?” I’d whisper to my husband. Then my son was born and he cried through his entire baptism… thanks, karma! I got the memo.
NEVERs can be dangerous. Whether spoken by ourselves or by others, NEVERs are hard to get past, and they’re also hard to swallow when you have to eat them. Every never is like a wall, and every time you think or say another never, the wall is fortified, making it harder to push through. Did I want to tell anyone when I changed my mind about wanting to have kids after many, many, MANY years of being adamant about not wanting any? Um, no. However, it’s good for us to grow and change as individuals, to realize what in life is important and to keep learning with every new experience.
In your life, your NEVERs might be CAN’Ts, but the only person that is truly holding you back from breaking through those ever-thickening barriers is you. If the evil seeds of doubt were denied their nourishment from our own fears and insecurities, what would stop any of us from going for our dreams, stepping outside of our comfort zones, or living without regret? We all need to make mistakes to learn and grow. I mean, if you don’t play the lottery, you are NEVER going to win (that NEVER is pretty definitive… unless of course you stumble upon the winning ticket on the sidewalk).
If there is something that you’ve always wanted to do, something that you’ve always wanted to achieve, something that you’ve always wanted to try, but you’ve told yourself you can’t, or you’ll never… it’s time to change your mindset. New things are scary (believe me, as an over-thinker, control freak, type A+ with anxiety, I know!), but when you get past those hurdles and look back at where you stared, what you’ve overcome, and what you’ve accomplished, you’ll be proud of yourself, you’ll be a stronger person, you’ll have grown and you will have greater self-confidence. Try not to let your NEVERs dictate your life, to pigeon-hole your hopes and dreams. You owe it to yourself to be happy and to be able to look back at a life lived without regrets.