I woke up this morning and I realized that my demons are gone. I don’t know when it happened, or how, but they aren’t here anymore. My demons looked like whys and hows and whens. Perhaps the worst was what will people think?
Those demons kept me frantic for years. I remember a pivotal moment when I met a young man in Chicago. He had a striking presence and with good reason: He had just graduated from one of the country’s most prestigious law schools. He was good-looking, brilliant, popular, and had a clear, impressive career trajectory. Everyone knew he was going places.
And then there was me. I had just moved to Chicago from a farm right outside the city limits of Goodlettsville (never heard of it? Yeah, nobody else has either). I lived in a house with my sister that had poor heating and drove a 1984 Chevy Ford truck with wheat barrels in the back to keep me from sliding in the snow. Nobody knew who I was, and I did not have high aspirations for law school or anything else.
Eventually, after coming up with plan after plan of impressive feats like ball after ball of crumpled paper on the floor, I was defeated. I wasn’t even sure who I was trying to please or impress, I just knew I felt inadequate. That marks the moment when I started wrestling my demons instead of trying to assuage them.
For years, I tried to harness my free-spirited personality into something “corporate” with little success. I decided to stop trying and instead to “go where the wind blows.” Since then, I have moved from the political world in Chicago to work for a software company in a small town in northern Oklahoma.
Two months ago, I spent several days in Colorado with a group of people who had all graduated from Ivy League schools. They were highly intelligent, cultured, (super fun!), but I concluded that I did not want what they had, after all.
I want to make my own way and take the path less traveled even if that path entails no recognition or public appraise. I want a small life if that means it can truly be my own.
This story of not one of self-empowerment, exactly. It is more about the beauty of living a quiet life, even a humble one. Not boring, mind you. I will never settle for boring. I enjoy the hustle and bustle of the big city as much as the next millennial, but there is something almost holy about the rhythm that allows you to rest. It was a piece to the puzzle that I didn’t even know I was missing.
There is so much joy in my life these days, but I don’t think it happened magically. I know the life that I want, so I don’t need to question it anymore. I have put the last of those demons to rest.
Did you know that I am an heiress? It’s nothing terribly impressive, just one big abandoned grain elevator that makes up about a quarter of our small town’s skyline. My grandfather bought it in the 80’s and it’s sat unused for about twenty years. I find the fact that I am going to inherit an abandoned grain elevator one day to be so odd and unexpected, it makes me laugh every time I think about it.
Now that I no longer concern myself with what people think of my life, I suddenly enjoy every aspect of it. I can like it for itself. I didn’t like the apartment when I first moved in. It has wood-paneling from floor to ceiling and it’s in desperate need of updating.
But, I’m only living here for a couple of months, so I researched the best way to decorate wood-paneling and made as many trips to Hobby Lobby as was necessary until I was satisfied with how my little apartment looked. It does not have the refined or chic look that I would have ideally. But it’s cozy and cheery and I love coming home to it.
The life I have craved for so long is finally coming to fruition, not because it’s perfect (looking at you, wood-paneled walls), but because I love it. I’m learning to celebrate the extraordinary nature of everyday life, free from the comparison of other people. My heart is so full and thankful that I could write and write about these days, where nothing very splendid or wonderful happens, but one day follows the other softly. But I don’t think there’s a need to make any fuss about it, as lovely as it is.
It’s my life, and that is enough.