Rabu, 26 Oktober 2011

Why Not ???

Like most individuals on this planet, I have spent a good deal of time fantasizing about the life I would have if only I could choose. I would be more confident. I would be more adventurous. I would get more education and get a better paying job. I would choose satisfying and complimentary relationships. I would feel like I had a valid place in this world.

As much time as I spent fantasizing, however, I probably spent even more time wallowing in the misery of my real life and making excuses about why I couldn't accomplish these things. I began to assume that every day would be the same as the last. I even started to believe that dreams were for kids and for irresponsible people that intended to bounce from one failure to the next.

Then, one day I had an epiphany. At the time, I was a housewife raising three small children. Though I have the amazing ability to stretch a dime into a dollar, money was always extremely tight. My life centered around taking care of my children and finding ways to stretch the budget just to pay for the necessities of life.

I really loved being with my kids. I felt it was an important job and was willing to sacrifice to do what I felt was the right thing for my kids. But I had a good number of aspirations that didn't involve cleaning up messes, rereading stories for the hundredth time, or playing with bugs in the park. I wanted to be able to pay the bills each month. I wanted to become more confident and able to be part of an adult world. I wanted the freedom and ability to drive my children to various places. I wanted to see and learn a little bit about the world. I wanted to go to university and get my archaeology degree. In short, I wanted to be Tami, the person, and not just Mommy or Mrs. Brady.

For several years, I stewed about my quandary. I had always said I was going to go to university but frankly no one believed I actually would. The most vocal members of my family questioned why I would even want to go to university, especially to take archaeology. Archaeology was a job for single men. The only mothers who would dare train for such a job were simply trying to run away from their responsibilities. I had no intention of abandoning my family and so I eventually decided to give up on my dream.

My brother came to visit one day. We were both venting about our lives and talking about our bleak futures. I told him that I had finally given up on my hope of becoming an archaeologist. He asked me why I had to give up on this dream. I remember him saying "why not". Rather irritated at my single brother's grasp of the seemingly obvious, I explained the situation to him: my responsibilities, my lack of finances, my confidence issues, my lack of an adventurous nature, etc.

Over the next few weeks, for some reason, I just kept replaying that conversation in my head. I kept hearing "why not". Yes, I could list a whole book of reasons why I couldn't become an archaeologist. Strangely, however, these reasons seemed more like excuses.

I started wondering what I would tell my children if they were in my place. Surely, I wouldn't tell them to settle and be miserable. I started questioning why I was so willing to run away from a challenge. Finally, I realized that if I didn't at least try to reach my goals, I was going to regret my decision for the rest of my life.

Within six months of that epiphany, I started taking university classes. I researched and found student funding. I volunteered and then got a part time job at the local museum on weekends so that my husband could watch the kids while I was working. I practiced my driving skills and learned how to take public transit. I pushed myself to interact with other students and resisted my natural urge to run away from the large crowded campus. I scheduled my classes around my children's school schedule, even taking a few late night classes, so that my children would not require daycare and would never come home to an empty house.

Seven years later, I had earned an undergraduate honours degree in Archaeology and graduate degrees in Archaeology and Heritage, awarded with distinction. I now run my own archaeological consulting company out of my basement. This allows me the freedom to choose my projects so that I don't have to stay away from my family for long periods of time. It also allows me the option to take on non-archaeological projects such as the writing of this book without the loss of income associated with working part time. Moreover, I found that as I reached towards my goals (sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing in my attempts) that in moving through or around these obstacles and challenges, I became happier in my life and more confident that I could achieve other ambitions that I had. My husband says I also became a lot nicer to be around.

In this way, the phrase "why not" changed my life. Perhaps, you too can change your life simply by asking yourself "why not".

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