I read this article on Gretchen Rubin’s page recently and it felt like someone had poured cold water down my spine. There’s a name for this? And it’s drifting? Rubin is one of my favorite authors. I highly recommend all of her books, her blog and her podcast. Rubin defines drift as “the decision you make by not deciding, or by making a decision that unleashes consequences for which you don’t take responsibility.”
I have never really taken the time to know myself. Within the last year, however, I have been trying through writing and meditation. It seems to be working, but honestly, I still don’t know who I am. I have not yet figured out what “feels right” for me. I like to be “busy.” Instead of acknowledging complex feelings and dealing with them, I like to have something else to do to take my mind off of things. It sounds like a terrible defense mechanism, and it is. It is the defense mechanism used by those of us too afraid to deal with the really heavy crap life deals us. Instead of dealing with the crushing loss of a close friend on graduation day in college, I went straight to law school. A decade later, I am glad to be a J.D., but I don’t know why I went to law school under those circumstances. To put one foot in front of the other? I felt so depressed in 2003 that I thought if I stopped moving, I might die too. Looking back, there is no evidence to prove I would have been any worse off if I had waited a year or two. I do remember calling my law school that summer and asking if I could defer admission for a year. They refused, saying that I would have to reapply and that it was really competitive, so there would be no guarantee I would be accepted the next year. So with that threat in mind, I went and became one of the 25 brown faces on campus. Then on the first day of class, I met a young lady who had deferred from the year before, just because she felt like it. And of course, the law school allowed her to do it. I will never know why she got that privilege and I didn’t, but I remember the hot anger flushing my face when I heard her say it.
I have little to no memories of that first mission critical 1L year. It is a blur in my history. It feels like it was an intricate charcoal sketch that someone ran a big pink eraser over, smudging and dulling the fine details into gray. I remember 5 people who were integrally important to my survival, but I hardly remember the rest. This year is the 10th anniversary of my law school graduation. Those 5 people are still the only ones who really matter to me.
Just like the theme, this post has started to drift. Let me try to bring it back. I drifted to law school, but learned there that I love criminal justice. No matter where I’ve tried to take my career, criminal justice, public safety and law enforcement keep bringing me back. This is one of my callings, one of the things that “feels right” for me. I think part of drift is caring too much about what other people think (see last week). The more I get to know myself, the less I allow myself to drift to things that don’t “feel right.” I am finally fully aware that I am in charge of my happiness, and that I cannot expect anyone else to look out for it on my behalf. Yes, law school was a very (!!!) expensive drift, but one that has added to my happiness. I’ll add a follow-up happy post when my meager career in criminal justice, public safety and law enforcement finally allow me to pay off my student loans.
Stay tuned for 20 more years!