This week, I had a friend tell me that I don't choose to have challenges in my life which in short, I guess, means I am playing it safe and not doing new things. This came at an interesting time, as a blog I sometimes read had asked if we (old folks) have had our best jump which meant-- is the best yet to be and do we live that way?
Well, you know I am a writer, writers are interested in exploring emotional issues. So I was bound to look more deeply at both of these not only for myself but for how we end up thinking as we do.
In the conversation with my friend, who does know me but maybe not as well as she thinks, I asked-- what challenges am I avoiding? (I myself was thinking I wrote three novellas, put them out as well as two full books all to less than favorable reader response-- you know that because you don't get sales-- Didn't that qualify as taking on a challenge?) I've also tried to learn marketing (see above for success ratio) which is definitely a challenge for me. Add to it that I have stuck to writing what I believe even when it was not popular. Not challenging?
Guess not as she then listed off the things that I had said I don't like as well as that I still wear my hair the same way I always have. She said:
"Reread what you have been writing just here. You have closed your mind to doing more abstracts for your trailer (for eBook trailers). going on cruises. playing games. pleasing romance writers, or anyone else."Our conversation before that had been about some places I was not happy; so that led to some of this question about challenges. I think what she was saying was that if I took on more challenges like maybe cutting my hair in a pixie cut or going on a cruise, I would be more satisfied. Basically, what she listed as the challenges I have rejected are things she likes to do-- please others, play games, go on cruises and paint abstracts. (I had earlier said I don't like big parties, and it didn't make the cut but maybe she doesn't like them either). Anyway that led to some introspection on my part.
When I got to sixty, one of the things I decided was that I had done everything I felt I had to do or that society said I should do. I'd been through a lot of diverse experiences (okay I had never gone on a cruise or gone to a drunken party) which included having and raising a family, ranch life, deep immersion into a religion, leaving said religion, and other things I won't be mentioning here (or to my friend). I had felt at sixty, which is a full lifespan, I now had the rest of my life for me-- for only doing what I wanted to do. Which means I didn't have to take someone else's challenge.
One of the pluses of being my age is I have tried a lot of things. Some I liked and kept in my life. Some I rejected. Some I reconsider once in awhile to think if I have changed or the activity has and I might then like it.
Maybe as part of being a writer, I have an imaginative ability to put myself emotionally into a situation to assess how it'd be if I was physically in it. Based on what others have told me about the cruises, which they love, I can imagine what it's like on a cruise. The only part that would remotely appeal to me would be seeing say the coastline of British Columbia if that was the only way, watching whales or porpoises-- in short the part about nature. The things others love about cruises (like organized play activities, casinos, shows, parties, gourmet food, and tours where someone else plans what you see and gets you there) sound very 'unfun' to an introvert, which I joyfully am.
I can't please other writers or other people for that matter if what I am doing doesn't please me first. I can't write their stories. I went through counseling some years back (actually three experiences with different professionals, not to mention a few times with psychics which can be like counselors), and one thing I learned was what it means to be a people-pleaser and how it was no longer working for me-- if it ever had.
So making someone else unhappy or that I won't do what they want, that's not on my agenda of caring about. Sorry, but that's their problem. This also doesn't mean I never want to do something for others. Sometimes it's what I want too.
I can be convinced by hard facts to rethink a position but by almost 71, I do pretty well know myself, what I like, or don't like. I don't feel a need to prove anything to anybody including me-- which can seem contrary to someone who would like me to do what they think would be better for me. Sorry... wait, not sorry and not going there again ;).
As for always the same hairstyle... well, there is curl and less curl (two photos taken within a week of each other)) But otherwise I found a way I like to wear my hair-- give or take an inch or four-- and whether I have bangs. I do evaluate it once in awhile, but I had short hair in high school and haven't wanted it since. Why should I change to a hairstyle that doesn't suit me emotionally even if it would be more flattering-- and it might be. So what. There are other reasons to do things than that.
As for whether my best jump is yet to be, my best experiences are yet to be lived, I never say never, but I am pretty sure I had my best jump years ago. I knew it at the time. I savored it at the time. I don't live in it today nor the need to relive it.
One life lesson I fortunately learned early is always live fully right where I am. I still do that. That I believe my best jump is behind me doesn't mean I cannot still have great experiences and successes ahead-- or not. I never say never ;)