Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Elaine Reflects on The Alchemist, Part One

"That was what made travelling appeal to him--he always made new friends, and he didn't need to spend all of his time with them. When someone sees the same people every day...they wind up becoming a part of that person's life. And then they want the person to change. If someone isn't what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own."
~Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I am a friendly person who makes friends easily, but in the later years of my life, I have learned not to let anyone get so close that they develop expectations. I had a lot of long-term best friends in my life. The key word there was 'had'. The more I gave to each of these relationships, the more I was expected to be whatever they needed me to be, and they had come to expect more and more. I am sure it was not all one-sided, as I probably had my share of expectations, but having always been a people-pleaser, I gave and gave until one by one, they learned that I had had enough.

Shout out to my BFF Michelle, who is halfway across the USA, therefore making it nearly impossible to have unrealistic expectations of our friendship. Even if she and I lived closer, I still think our friendship would be the same for two reasons: 1) she is one of the most genuine people I have ever met, and quite self-sufficient in her own life; and 2) she is the first friend that I made where I didn't have to live up to any preconceived notions. We met a week after I moved from Connecticut to Florida where I didn't know anyone. I was away for the first time from my family and the people I had grown up with. No one knew me, so I could be myself. I was the authentic Me when I met Michelle, which is why our friendship has endured for 23 years. (We still laugh that we proved our then boss wrong. He mocked us for planning to meet at the Hard Rock in Orlando in ten years. He said in ten years we wouldn't even remember each other. HA. We may not have made it back to Florida, but we were at each others' weddings!)

The reason this quote resonated with me, is because I am finally at a point in my life where the only person putting demands on my time is me. The husband and the dog get as much of my time as they want, because that is the deal, but other than that, I am the only one standing in my way now. If I want to spend the evening writing, reading or even playing Candy Crush, that is up to me. If I never get that book finished I have no one to blame but myself.

The dream is real now, because I have cleared away the so called clutter in my life so that I can focus on MY dreams, on what I want from MY life. I am sure that sounds selfish, but I spent most of my life being unselfish and that did not get me anywhere. I am not suggesting you ditch your friends and family to go after what you want, but set some healthy boundaries to ensure that you have time for yourself. After a lifetime of being the good friend, the good daughter, the good employee, the good cousin, et cetera, I had a hard time setting boundaries. I had to literally move out of state to truly have my own life.

Now that I have it, it is time to do something with it.