I confess...I consider self-awareness to be one of my strong points. I know who I am and I think I've been pretty self-cognizant from a younger age than most. I know that there are parts of me that I can change, including things I SHOULD change. I also know that there are parts of me that are unlikely to change. Some are good, some not so good, but they are me. I believe that people are always works in progress so my definition of me is always evolving. "Me" isn't the sort of thing that one can really put in words, which is hard for me to admit since I'm word-obsessed. But that doesn't make it any less real, either the knowledge or the underlying truth itself.
One thing I know is that I have solid instincts. I tend to reach important decisions fairly quickly and that the instincts tend to be right. I also know that, despite this recognition, I am a master of self-doubt and I am not at peace with my instinctual choices until I've let my rational side examine them and turn them about. I knew I was going to Haverford the moment I walked on campus...I cite the barefoot tour guide as the clincher...but I still looked at and applied to many schools. But I belonged at Haverford. It wasn't a perfect place and I know it would be the wrong school for many people. But it was what I needed and I gained so much from my years there. I knew I wanted Betty (my Acura Integra) the moment I drove her but I still went and tested other cars. I went back to the dealer several times, walked away, and kept going back until I let the decision become real. I have never regretted the choice...even though the model wasn't on my researched list (that was actually more my mom's doing). I'd looked at dozens of wrong houses, enough to question my list of wants and needs and wonder if I was crazy. I put an offer on the right one within five minutes of walking in the door. It was perfect and I still miss it over 4 years later. While the marriage failed, I had the perfect dress. I knew it when I put it on. But it was only the second one I tried. So I went to three more stores. I tried on more white dresses. And then I called and ordered the one I knew was mine.
And then there are the decisions that I didn't make quickly. I chose UVA quickly, but the idea of going to law school was harder and I never fully committed. In retrospect, I think I went just because I felt I should. It is tricky to say I regret it since I don't know where life would have gone otherwise, but, if I'm being honest, it was the wrong move. I enjoyed the mental challenge but didn't like the career and I'm still exploring the right way to use the background to find my place. That decision has been on my mind lately since I remain on the job hunt, but it isn't the one that is motivating this post.
I always wanted to fall in love. I always wanted to get married. I never dated much...school took a lot out of me and I knew I couldn't fully participate in a relationship until it was over. As soon as it was, I found a boy. He met all my preconcieved ideas of "right"...highly educated, in the education field (not sure why but that's what I always saw in my mind), a liberal. And I did love him...I'll never deny that. He was, and is, a good person. But, in hindsight, it never felt like the college, the car, the house, the dress. I never felt that clear. I never just knew. I had to convince myself that it was what I wanted. Rational me had to convince instinct me, rather than the reverse. And the reverse had served me well.
I had to work at being in love. And I've come to realize that isn't right. Relationships are work. Liking someone full-time, a different thing than loving and one very grounded in day-to-day reality, is work. But loving someone should not be. I don't at all mean to say that it wasn't a true connection. It was. It was special and there were deep and true feelings. But, I was leading with my mind and not my heart.
So, rational me is not going to say too much in too much detail because it isn't appropriate for several reasons. But I will say that I've spent the past month re-learning myself, my instincts and my heart. I never understood the "I knew" concept when it came to the heart and to falling in love. Which is a bit silly, since "I knew" has served me well in other arenas. I'm keeping rational me in the picture because she has a purpose. And I recognize that what I know right now may change...I'm not taking for granted that things will always be, or feel, the same. Rational me is being sure to take time to let things settle and play out.
But for now, I am happily listening to my instincts and I am enjoying every moment.