Filling Your Niche

the lucky ones

Last night, I tagged along with Miss G to an info session on the ASL interpreter program she wants to apply for. The presenter had everyone go around the room, introduce themselves, and say a few words about why they wanted to be an interpreter.

The answers were many and varied. One gal had been a nurse for 20 years and said it was time for a career change. Another was a special ed teacher who was burned out on special ed, but had a passion for teaching deaf kids specifically. Some other guy used to be a film producer, ran into an interpreter on set, and turned his life around based on that chance meeting. A younger girl said her brother was deaf, and a somewhat older girl said “I’ve always thought about doing this in the back of my mind. And finally I just kinda decided… well, if not now, then when? So here I am.”

All different ages. All different educational backgrounds and careers and life stories. But every single one of them nodded and murmured in agreement when another one of them talked about their passion for ASL and deaf culture, each affirmation cementing them together more firmly into a tribe. Including my kid. My 16-year-old kid, who has apparently found the thing she wants to do for the rest of her life before she even knows what real life even is.

I spent the hour-long info session alternating between feeling excited for Miss G and fighting vivid jealousy. And sometimes trying not to cry.

Granted, my blood sugar was low because it was right at dinnertime (who plans these events anyway?) but at just shy of 40, I think it’s safe to say that I will probably never find my one true passion. And I waste a lot of time imagining how my life would be easier if I could.

And also granted, I find myself tribe-less these days, which is both unusual and depressing. One of the hazards of working from home, I guess, along with feeling displaced and stuck (again) in another job that I thought (again) would be fulfilling and came up short. Plus, feeling disappointed that our plan of moving to CO didn’t work out as we hoped, and trying put off (at least, for now) that wanderlusty itch that means it’s time to head for new horizons and try try try again somewhere new.

There have been times in my life when I knew exactly what I was working toward. When I was surrounded by people who had my back like I had theirs and we were all in it together, times when my tribe and my passion were fierce and true. But having lived through and loved those days only makes my current lack of tribe and passion all the more poignant.

So seeing Miss G poised at the tip of diving into her own tribe, seeing her lit up and sure and focused– that’s gotta be the most reassuring thing a parent can see. There’s no way I could have predicted this path for her, and no way I could have helped her find it either. I’m super stoked she stumbled into this on her own, and at such a young age. And I’m also loving the absurd coincidence that we just happen to live 10 minutes from a school with one of the best interpreter programs in the country. Hot damn.

Life is goofy. Some days, it reminds me of the slippery dance you do when taking a fish off the hook: caaaarefully slide your hand down to avoid getting poked by the dorsal, expecting the slime to make gripping impossible and then being surprised every time that you can hold on after all. Success is always uncertain, right till it’s not. You never know quite what’s next, and it’s always a nervous business reaching for that manically flip-flopping goal.

But, you know, if you don’t reach, you can’t put your line back in the water again, and it’s a real short fishing trip.

So, in the interest of escaping the weird stupidity that’s been closing me in lately, I decided to jam an elbow or two into my comfort zone’s ribs and take Sign Language I and II with Miss G next year. Not because I think ASL is my passion too, but because when your goldfish bowl starts shrinking, you need to push back. Do things you haven’t done. Try new stuff. Keep moving forward to the next thing. Even if you’re not one of the lucky ones who knows exactly what that thing might turn out to be.

moving forward

Maarit • 05/14/2015

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