Thanks to marriage, I have new adult cousins. I’ve gotten close to one in particular and she brings out this very big sister side in me. I wish certain things were said to me in my early twenties and she comes to me often asking what I think or what I’d do and I soo..I unload. She was born and raised in Iowa and has recently been given an opportunity to nanny abroad for a family friend. This girl has only ever flown to Indiana, California and Tennessee. And you may ask where in all of the world will she be spending her Summer? Switzerland! With a trip to Italy, France & London. Can you imagine? I’m convinced this is going to change her whole life. She’s felt kind of stuck lately and a little depressed. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think travel can heal.
She’s asking me what her personal Summer goals should be, you know, besides learning French and eating gelato for 3 months. So I find myself giving her the advice of… “people watching”. Not only that, but any qualities you see in someone else or someone else’s life, make them your own. I personally am not a very jealous person and I think it’s because I take on jealousy as inspiration. I think this has probably benefited me and maybe I should explain myself…
I think we all grow up watching movies, reading books, visiting friends and seeing things about other families that were different than our own, things we liked and were drawn to. Not to say that I don’t love many many things about how I was raised and my own family, because I do. BUT, there were things that intrigued me.
I remember I thought it was cool that some people had rugs in their homes from other countries they had traveled to, together. That some families camped and hiked together. I liked the parents who drank red wine with steak dinners and white wine with seafood. I liked the dinner settings where kids could say anything and it was this perfect blend of adults and kids conversing. I liked that some kids grew up in one house and had a height chart permanently on their walls.
When I first went to Italy & France I liked how many families filled the parks and the markets on the weekend. I liked how they seemed to live up to the stereotype of living for beauty and pleasure. I liked how kids behaved! They were playful and curious but quiet in restaurants and respectful of their parents.
So I guess early on, I started thinking… I can “cherry pick” my life. I can become more like the best people in my life and also more like the strangers I see that intrigue me. Of course, I don’t really know the strangers, so the hypothetical imaginary is part my of my fun and again, the reason I don’t really get jealous. I discovered that I can cultivate my future purposefully rather than just going along for the ride. So this is what I’m telling my new little cousin. It’s sort of like saying “find yourself and be who you are” but instead, “shop for the qualities you most want to have and create the life that appeals to you most”.
My cousin basically replied, “I can do that, I can cherry pick who I am?” “Yeah sure, of course! You can be whoever you decide to be.”
Don’t you think it’s true?
We don’t have to accept the exact path that our small town or our families or our heartbreak picked out for us. My theory is that we can make our life be more livable and more desirable at any point, AT ANY POINT. My other interjection, cherry pick your life authentically, don’t do any of it for show, do it for you. Do it to get closer the person you most want to be, a person that you are inwardly, fully proud of.
Love to you,