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Actor or Spectator?

standard November 13, 2006 2 responses

For months now I’ve been toying with the thought that we are all either actors or spectators of our own lives. We can choose to to be spectator and just let others make decisions for us; let ourselves go where our life leads us, or we can be actors and choose to take an active role in our lives by consciously deciding where to lead our lives.
For a long time now I have felt like a spectator in my life. I’ve let myself get carried along by the tides. I wake up, do my thing, go to work, pick up C, make dinner, take care of things around the house. Everyday seems to just be a variation on a theme. Sometimes the routine is so, well…, routine that I space out for long periods of time. At other times I feel like I’m standing in the room, watching myself go through the motions. It freaks me out, but I feel powerless to change things, it’s like I can’t take charge.
“I don’t want to be a passenger in my own life”, but I don’t know how to take control. Whenever I think of anything major I want to accomplish it seems unattainable. There are just too many variables, too many people who depend on me and who need me to stay the course. It’s just easier to keep on doing the same ol’, same ol. I tell myself that I’ll figure out what I should be doing later, when others don’t need me as much.
Even when I try to do something not so monumental, say, participate in a big novel writing contest, life gets in the way; C starts fighting sleep, people at work start thinking they are actors in a remake of Dallas (seriously, it’s like a soap opera there!), M starts freaking out about Bar results (next Friday at 6pm, cross your fingers) and needs to chat for hours in the evening.
When you are single and young you think the world is your oyster. You think that you can do anything you set your mind to. And you are right, technically there really isn’t anything holding you back, especially if you have family to fall back on! When you get older and settle down, when you start a family, you loose much of that freedom. Your life isn’t your own anymore. You can’t decide to do something on a whim. But that shouldn’t mean that you don’t do anything!
I have to remember that my family is important and their well being is crucial, but my happiness is just as important, if not more so. At the end of the day if I need to make some serious waves so that I can find myself then I shouldn’t be scared to try.
A friend of mine used to say that he was scared he wouldn’t be married by the time he was 30. He really felt that it was crucial to do so, that it would symbolize that his life was on track. I’ll admit that I felt relief on my birthday this past July. I thought to myself “I may not have a career, but I’m married, I have a house and I have a kid.” Check, check, check. Three things checked off the master To-Do list. You know, the big list created by society?
Sometimes I question our decision to have a second child (who me, second thoughts? No!). I can’t help but wonder if I’m just letting the master To-Do list decide for me, if I’m letting my life run itself according to a plan someone else thought up. At other times I know that I want this baby more than anything else. I want C to have a sibling, I want to be a mom to another little one. At those times I think that I am just scared to let my life get away from me even more.
I know I can take control of my life. I can make small changes. I can take sewing classes, learn a new skill. I can take over leadership of my book club. I can write my novel. Without putting my family in jeopardy I can take control of my life and do things that are important to me, that make me feel fulfilled. I believe that not “being a passenger in your own life” doesn’t mean constantly rocking the boat, but keeping your hands on the wheel (helm, whatever it’s called…) at all times, being aware of what is going on and not letting things happen without your OK. It’s about setting small, realistic, goals that eventually lead to a larger target and acknowledging the achievement of each goal. I think I might finally be ready to be an actor in the story that is my life. I’m done being a spectator.

This post was inspired by the wonderful people at Sunday Scribblings. Please click here to read other posts responding to the prompt “I don’t want to be a passenger in my own life.”

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2 responses

  • It’s your life. That includes family, yes. I disagree with a statement you make: life gets in the way.

    It can’t. If you veer off and go around life, than you miss… life. It has to be part of what you do, who you are, and it has to fuel that big novel you’re going to write someday.

  • Oh- it’s ALL life.

    I was thinking about a (Freudian?)typo you made (not to pick because I am the QUEEN of typos and out-and-out don’t know how to spell its) but you said that you loose your freedom when you have a family and it made me think that it a way it does just that. It lets loose all those decisions with huge consequences they never had before. It makes us painfully aware of our freedoms. . . (sorry- should have written this on my own blog).

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