I’ve got a secret…
Actually I’ve got a few.
No, I’m not having an affair. I’ve never stolen. I probably haven’t lied to you, even if I’m not always honest.
But there are things about me that I don’t want you to know, but here I am sharing them. Because, maybe, just maybe, they’ll help you come to terms with your shit, or me come to terms with mine.
1. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up (I’m 36)
I never did. There was a time, when I was four or five, when I wanted to be a fairy. Or a nurse. By the time I was old enough to make my own curricular choices, nothing appealed. I mean nothing. I liked learning — history, politics, political thought, but none of those translated into a career that appealed.
If today I was to advise the 22 year old fresh graduate I once was, I would tell her to pursue her love of history, do that Masters your professor recommended, you have nothing to lose. For the life of me though, I can’t imagine what the future me would tell me to do now.
2. I want you to think I’m much younger than I actually am
The characteristics that I find most appealing in others are kindness, humour and intelligence. I also value them in myself. I hope you think I am all of these things. Yet, more than anything else, I want you to think that I’m at least a decade younger than I actually am. In fact, you already do, because that’s what I wrote above.
I’m not sure if this is because I’m the product of a society that values youth and beauty more than anything else, especially for women. Or if I’m just shallow. Or this is part of an existential crisis and a fear of death. But who has time to deal with that now?
3. I love my husband, but…
Many years ago, a colleague in her fifties told me that marriage is extremely hard and that you have to work on it every single day. That may been true for her I thought, however it wasn’t going to be for me. I had read The Bridge Across Forever and that was the sort of love I was anticipating. Except, I’m no Richard Bach*, and neither is my husband.
We are flawed, selfish, angry human beings who resent one another for the unhappiness we suffer. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to be apart than together. Yet, together we have created a family with lives full of love, laughter and joy. Nothing could be worse for any of us than tearing it apart. I’ve come to the realization that marriage is extremely hard and that you have to work on it every single day.
4. I’m anxious
Not all the time, but a lot of the time. At a social events, at work, at parents meetings, taking my kids to the doctor, visiting the family that has lost someone, sharing something I’ve written. If something goes wrong, I’m convinced I’m responsible. It’s irrational and it’s silly. So I regularly remind myself that none of it matters, and if even if it matters today, it probably won’t tomorrow. Days, weeks and months can go past and I’m fine. But eventually something will happen, usually something minor like making a mistake at work, forgetting to book an appointment, once receiving a letter from a lawyer, and all of a sudden as if out of nowhere the fast heartbeat, sweaty palms, butterflies and shaking return. And once again I’m anxious.
5. I may be on the road to hell
Not because I’m a bad person. But because that particular road is, as we know, paved with good intentions. I have good intentions, many in fact. In the past fortnight alone I have considered, although maybe daydreamed is a more accurate description, of creating a scheme where hi-tech companies that provide fresh fruit and vegetables to their employees donate 1% of their budget to feeding the children of asylum seekers in Tel Aviv daycare. More recently I came up with the marvelous initiative of creating a drop-in center where volunteers can help children of matriculation age prepare for their exams. If my track record has anything to go by though, these ideas will occupy me for a day or two, only to be forgotten.
*The relationship he wrote about didn’t last, much to my relief.