Hi everyone! I could list tons of intelligent-sounding reasons for starting this blog, but what it really comes down to is that it seems like everyone else I know has an amazingly insightful and entertaining blog, and I want one too! Even children have blogs now! I just received an e-mail linking me to the blog of a two month old! As usual, I am behind with the times...and so, I join you all in sharing opinions, one post at a time.
Here in Philadelphia, it is impossible to ignore baseball as October comes to a close. But, as the Phillies chase the title away from the favored Tampa (Devil) Rays this fall, I can't help look back on the last time they went to the World Series in 1993. When the Phillies played in that series, my dad and I stayed up way past my bedtime, wore our Phillies hats, and ate TONS of contraband junk food while John Kruk and his teammates took on the Toronto Blue Jays. We were giddy during game 5 when the Phillies scored early at the Vet and kept the series alive. We were heartbroken when Toronto used their home field advantage in game 6 to rally back in the ninth inning and win the title. (I was especially heartbroken when my dad informed me that the $5 I bet Anthony Resnick on the game was coming out of my lunchtime ice cream money.)
Why did I care so much about the Phillies you ask? After all, anyone that knows me knows my true sports love is football, and I bleed black and gold. However, in 1993, I was obsessed with all things related to Philadelphia, my father's hometown. My logic (which I can't really argue with) was that my Dad was the coolest person on the planet and so therefore, his hometown had to be the coolest city in the entire world. I may have lived in Butler, but my wall was decorated with posters of the Philadelphia skyline and pennants for the Phillies/76ers teams...next to a Steelers pennant, of course. I brought in pictures of my trip to Independence Mall for history class. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up as part of a Parent/Teacher Night project entitled "About Me", I made sure to include that I'd be working IN PHILADELPHIA. I also mentioned in this essay that I would never marry (yes, Dad, I know I still owe you for that bet we made...clearly, as evidenced in this post, I should stop betting on things that are not guaranteed), I would become a successful emergency room doctor, and I would have a dog named Bosco.
I think we can all sense the irony here. Fifteen years later, I do actually live in Philadelphia, and it is not exactly the dreamland that I envisioned it would be. Now that I have seen more of the country and the world, I long to live elsewhere...at times, anywhere else would do. More than that, I am engaged to be married, studying for a PhD so I can go into scientific publishing (gasp! a field somewhat based in the liberal arts!), and dogless. I got it wrong in fifth grade. Way wrong.
I am so happy that I was wrong then, because that plan for my life no longer makes sense to me. It wouldn't make me happier than I am right now. Still, many people do not share this view. Many people (older adults) watching my life from the outside wonder if all of these changes in my life are really for the better. Though I doubt they still see me as a fifth grader, they can't let go of the person I used to think I would be. Questions like, "Is she marrying too soon?" and "Does she think she's not good enough for a better career?" linger around extended family gatherings and professors' offices. Words like "settling" float loudly in the air, but no one dares to speak them to my face. Like so many of my peers, escaping this label of settling is becoming a challenge for me. And sometimes, this can be really really frustrating.
Here's how I see it. The thing about being an adult is, change is the one thing we all can rely on. It is frequent and never easy. And so, as we experience changes in our lives and in ourselves, we learn, and as we learn, we adapt. Does that adaptation sometimes mean settling for something different than we expected? Absolutely. Will we have to sacrifice some old ideas about the future to make room for new ideas? Of course. Does that always have to be a bad thing? No! I truly don't think it ever has to be a bad thing, as long as we are continually looking out for our own happiness as we make the decision to go off course. Change can be good! Will we get things wrong? Human nature says that we will. Are they always fixable? No, but there is always a way to move forward. How can we tell the difference between settling and making unexpected choices? Well, I suppose this is easy for me because I already know what settling in a negative way feels like. I do it all the time. For example, "I really want to eat this yummy, greasy pizza for dinner...but I'll be healthy and settle for a salad instead." (Okay, who am I kidding...I rarely settle for a pizza alternative as healthy as a salad.)
And so...though my Dad is still ridiculously cool, my Phillies hat is buried somewhere deep in my closet, probably underneath one for the Red Sox. And although I can't escape all of the crazy Philadelphia sports fans running around the city over this coming week, I am definitely not one of them (though don't get me wrong, I would rather see the Phillies win than Tampa). I probably won't even stay up to watch the game tonight with a feast of junk food. Instead, I think I'll settle for eating a Fudgsicle, reading a book, and a good night's sleep. If that really even counts as settling at all.