Friday, June 13, 2008

Out of the Ordinary

What makes someone unconventional?

Unconventional is defined as "not conventional; not bound by or in accordance with convention; being out of the ordinary." Convention is defined as "generally accepted custom, practice or belief", and conventional as "settled or prescribed by convention, customary, commonplace, ordinary."

Most of us are pretty conventional, we follow trends in fashion, in electronics, and in the milestones of life. And there are elements in our lives, when we choose them, that set us apart from everyone else. They are small elements, for instance, when everyone else in your circle of friends likes hiphop, you like country music. Not too far out and radical for fear of losing the tenuous hold we perceive we have on the comforts of our lives. Instead of following our hearts, we follow our friends. When you're a kid, this can lead to poor judgement in who we follow and where it leads us.

It also takes us on a long and winding road to pursuing our dreams, with far too many detours sometimes.

I can't even remember what I wanted to be when I was a kid. Like most kids, I was pretty directionless. We didn't have much money, so my options of college were pretty limited, as well as not being the thing daughters wanted to do. My achievements in school, in sports, in pretty much anything, were downplayed and dismissed. I was supposed to settle for being a wife, maybe a secretary or store clerk, until I married and then being a housewife.

Now don't get excited, being a mother and wife is a lot of work, and a mostly thankless job, albeit a very important one. It was just something I wanted to postpone, partly because of what I observed as a kid, and partly because I didn't see very many men appreciating their wives. I wanted to "do" things, not observe them from the sidelines. In my young eyes, men had all the fun, all the recognition, all the inside "secrets" and very little responsibility. Remember, I didn't see what my dad did at work, I only saw what my mom had to do, and how much there was. Mom had to take care of the house, the three kids, and my dad. She had to juggle the finances, pay the bills, wash, cook, clean-up, etc. My dad, on the other hand, went to work, came home, was served supper, sometimes did yard work, and watched TV. Us kids were not to disturb him.
What's up with that?

So, I went in a different direction. I moved out at 18, I did not get married, I did not have kids. I went to work. I did things I wanted to do, within my means. I traveled. I did go to college, but I have yet to attain my degree. I became a storm spotter/chaser for the National Weather Service, for 14 years now. I became a wildlife rescue volunteer for the local wildlife department of the animal humane society, for 18 years now. I became a published poet. I started a business after losing my job of 15 years. And at the ripe old age of 47, I married a wonderful man and became a military wife.

I am a lucky woman, because I learned to listen to my heart.