Halloween always creeps up on me. It comes at the tail end of a busy time for me at work, and even though I’ve been stuffing my face with candy corn since October 1, I haven’t quite given thought to the holiday.
I should love everything about it – the creative costumes, the decorations, the parties, the treats. But somehow, I always forget about it. When I finally realize that it’s right around the corner, I can never quite decide what I’d like to be.
Lately, all I can think is, “I think I’d like to try being myself for a while.”
There’s this career coaching exercise in which you’re supposed to design the person you’d like to become. You pull qualities and experiences from people whom you admire, and you begin to build your new self.
The trick is to start with a clean slate.
To forget for just a moment that I’ve spent 30 years hanging out on the fringes. To forget that my sheltered childhood led to sheltered adulthood. To forget about fear and doubt and preconceived notions about myself. To forget that most of my true adventures were shared with characters in books.
The treat is to imagine what could be.
To imagine the next 30 years of jumping into the middle. To imagine a curious adulthood that leads to great stories I tell my grandchildren. To remember how deeply I loved and tried and experienced life. To remember that the greatest adventures were my own.
I don’t think it’s ever too late to do this, although there’s a lot of fear wrapped up in changing course.
My Gram Sara spent a good 60 years of her life caring for everyone except herself. She was born into a family of 10 children, raised two of her own, cared for her live-in mother-in-law, and then her very sick husband. When Gramps passed away and the giant three bedroom house was left empty, I’m sure she mourned for the adventures she didn’t get to have in her youth. I can imagine her trying to steal minutes for herself here and there, and then suddenly, all of those minutes belonged to her again.
She has this vest that she is very proud of – it’s filled with pins from all of the places she visited in that next chapter of her life. She cleaned her slate – she met a guy, traveled the country, moved to Florida, made new friends, and built the life she always wanted to have, but didn’t know it when she was younger. Now in her 90s, her trips have slowed, but she pulls out pictures from her favorite adventures so she can show her grandchildren that she lived.
Gram Sara is a wise woman.*
I suppose it’s never too late to begin again. The trick is to start fresh. The treat is to start becoming who you’d like to be.
[ Candy! ]
*My favorite words of wisdom from Gram Sara: