12 April 2008

Rebel With a Cause

I would never, ever, use the term "rebel" to describe myself.  For my entire 25 years, I've followed the general rules in life:  I didn't drink in high school, I went to a good college and studied hard, and I've never even had a speeding ticket.  

Not to say that my life has been boring.  I've had my share of wild nights (oh tequilla!) and adventuresome moments (bridge jumping at 2 a.m., singing at The Stage, and etc.).  I'm happy with the way I've lived my life.  In many ways, I haven't followed the traditional rules:  I'm 25, I'm not married and have zero prospects of being married, I don't have kids, I don't have a career.  I'm just saying that I don't make a habit of being a rule breaker.

I've been thinking a lot about why this is.  And I've filtered it down to two main reasons:  1) I don't like getting in trouble, whether it's with a friend or with an authority figure, and 2) my biggest fear is that I'll disappoint my parents and family.  

While that doesn't sound like a lot, realizing this has been very liberating for me.  

I certainly don't plan on breaking the law (I am going to be an attorney soon), but I'm also realizing that some authority figures are not worth bowing down to.  For example, one of my major regrets in life is that I never stood up to a former boss of mine.  For obvious reasons (this is the world wide web...of gossip and backstabbing), I don't want to go into details, but I do wish I had stood up for myself and what I thought was the right thing for our organization.  Note to self:  Next time, have a backbone.  Believe in yourself and your mission enough to stand up and defend your position. 

But I know I'll always want to please my parents and family.  I have an abnormal fear that I'm going to be the screw-up, irresponsible child.  So I do what I'm supposed to in order to keep the familial status quo. Until now.  At 25, I'm rebelling:  I'm going to Chile for two months to live, work, and travel. 

Now, for most folks, this is probably not a big deal.  In fact, many families encourage these types of activities.  But for my family, this is probably not the best "life choice."  Not that I hold anything against my family--quite the opposite.  I love them for their Midwestern pragmatism and ultimate value in our family.  I also want to clarify that my family is not "small minded," provincial, or unadventuresome.  We just don't really do the study abroad thing.  Too far, too scary, too far from the family (we are all very, very close), and why live somewhere when you can go on vacation...with the whole fam.  So, my 2 month stint to Chile is raising eyebrows, to say the least. 

I'd be lying if I didn't agree with some of their concerns:  It's expensive, yes.  I don't proficiently speak the language. I don't know a single soul there.  And I've never been away from my family for more than a month at a time, and even then they were only 150 miles away.  I would be pulling the wool if I didn't admit that I will probably cry at some point because I miss them so much.  But I just can't get past what I'm gaining. 

A chance a fluency.  Realizing a life dream by going to a country I have always dreamed about. Reading Neruda...at Neruda's home.  Seeing the second highest mountain range in the world.  Visiting the southern-most city in the world.  Traveling up Matchu-Pichtu.  Working for an international non-profit.  And on, and on, and on.

So I've finally found a reason to "rebel."  So what if I'm 25, and this isn't really a rebellion.  For me, I'm breaking the ultimate rule:  I'm doing something my parents don't entirely approve of.  And that makes my sad in a very deep place in my heart.  But it also makes me feel wild, reckless, and young.  More than anything, I know that this is the right choice for me.  

I guess I had to grow up in order to rebel.  


Jessica said...

I'm sure your family is proud that they've raised such a wonderful daughter that makes the right decision in difficult situations and even in this case, made decision on her own, even after recognizing there are downfalls to the decision.

And, I can totally relate. My "rebellious" moment was when I bought an SUV :o) I didn't tell my parents I was buying a new car (I didn't want to hear the speech about how I don't need a car payment and how outrageous gas prices will be in a few years). I knew I didn't need a car payment ( I could afford it, but I went from no car payment to a pretty good car payment) and now look at gas prices, but I love my truck AND my parents even bought the exact same one a few years later :)

legaleagle2009 said...

Awww...you will love it! I know what you mean about rebelling against your parents, I am moving to Houston when I graduate and if you'd talk to my parents you'd think I have abandoned my family. I am glad you are getting to do something so few people get to do...Studying abroad is an amazing experience...I cried alot when I was gone too (I went for Fall semester in 2004) it was the hardest thing I have ever done and yet also the most rewarding...I wish you nothing but good time, spiritual and mental growth (and I REALLY can't wait to see pics!)

Becca said...

As someone who left their family (temporarily) to live in central Africa - yeah, sounds familiar. I don't know your family, but consider that their disapproval is their way of worrying about you. Even though Chile (and yes, even Rwanda) are safe places with lovely people - it is hard to sell one's parents on that, especially if one's parents have never lived abroad.

Your family loves you! They are proud of you (who wouldn't be?) and you won't regret your choice. I am very excited for you!