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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Marching to My Own Beat, Dear

While writing is definitely my thing, being timely about it is not. In college, I turned in every paper late but I promised myself that I would not be a tardy student in graduate school. But here I am with a two week overdue paper and no time to write it in.

The problem with turning in papers late (aside from the grade aspect) is that I am missing out on a shared experience with my fellow classmates. I realize that, in many ways this experience is similar to being single over 30. Just as my classmates are reviewing and revising their returned papers, my peers are buying furniture with their partners and raising children. When I turn my paper in next week, it will be a solo experience because everyone else has already moved onto their revisions.

Of course, life doesn't have the same kind of deadlines that school has and there are many wonderful, fun & amazing single women over 30 -- I just don't know any of them in real life (I know lots of them online though!! Last week I wrote about looking for these wonderful single friends.) But I do have a different feeling about being single now that I've crossed the threshold into my 30s.

I am in no way saying that there is anything wrong with being single after 30 or that I am unhappily single. Nor am I saying that 30 is an age deadline for coupling. I am just saying that I didn't go with the majority. And I miss that common experience.

When it comes to time management, I've always been a busy person with this demanding Drill Sargent in my head saying "Get up. Work out. Quit being lazy. Keep going. Are you a quitter?" This Drill Sargent was effective for the first half of my life but has recently become this thing that I rebel against daily. I watch TV just because it temporarily silences the Drill Sargent.

The other morning I woke up angry and tired after a semi-sleepless night. I had so much to do and this unfinished paper tugging at me and a dirty house and an unwalked dog and a car that needs work and a garden that needs planting and chickens that need a chicken run (and on and on and on).

And then I thought to myself "What would I do for myself right now if I were my own best friend?"

And the answer was: "I'd go get myself some water and make myself some breakfast and a cup of tea and then I'd clean the house."

The thing is, those were the things that I was going to do that morning anyway. But approaching them from a nurturing perspective, from a place of caring for myself, was so much more joyful than just jumping at the Drill Sargent's commands.

So now I am trying to cultivate this new voice in my mind which sounds like a sweet little old lady and ends every sentence in "dear": "You might want to work on that paper now, dear. You will feel so much better when it is done, dear."

I call her Mother Nurture. She is very encouraging.

So, when it comes to being single I could listen to the Drill Sargent who says: "Quick! Quick! Quick! You aren't getting any younger! Get online. Date. Even if you don't like him and he is ugly and negative and a total downer. Give it a shot. Do you want to die lonely and miserable? Everyone else is already married. They have something to live for! What is wrong with you? Hurry up. Get in line. Do some pushups and put on some makeup -- you need it!"

Or I can listen to Mother Nurture: "Dear, you've got plenty of time. You're a wonderful person. You have done a lot today, just think of all you've accomplished. You listened to your friend and talked to your dad and you worked in the yard and went to a rehearsal. Look at how accomplished you are, dear. Now, I know you're tired, dear, but wouldn't you feel better if you finished up that volunteer work you've been trying to get to for a month. It will only take an hour or so. Just finish that up tonight and then tomorrow afternoon you will have time to work on that paper. You have enough time, dear. Don't worry."

Now this is either schizophrenic or totally awesome. I love Mother Nurture. She helps me take care of myself instead of beating myself to bits every day. I think I might be able to turn papers in on time now that I'm not just trying to silence the Drill Sargent with compulsive Hulu watching.

I can't say, however, that I'll be "on time" with the rest of my life. After all, I march to my own beat, dear.