“You are the way you are. There is nothing you can do, or could have done to change things. You can’t worry about what might or might not happen. You will always be the way you are.”
These are the exact words my doctor told me today. I found her words profoundly comforting. Now, to allay any concerns you might now be having, let me just tell you: I am fine. I am going to be fine. But I did schedule an appointment because I wanted to make sure.
It’s funny. Typically, when people ask my age I am I do not mind answering – I am 30. Often when conducting interviews people think I am a student – perhaps high school age. In some ways, I am actually in better shape than I was then. Which was in shape.
Currently, I am the youngest – and slowest – member of a local running club. The only other woman on the team actually started getting faster once she turned 40. She is just a few minutes away from qualifying for the Olympic trials. I want to be like her when I grow up.
But then sometimes, in certain circles, people respond to my age by asking whether I am married and thinking of starting a family. I am not. And apparently I am supposed to be. In San Francisco it was normal to be 30, single, and childless. In Utah, it is not.
I guess I never expected to be here. And I don’t just mean in the Intermountain West. I mean, since childhood I have understood that you never get any younger. Still. Breast exams. Sunscreen by choice. Wondering about my fertility? That must be someone else’s life. Really, I am almost bored writing about it. Except I’m not.
It all kind of scares me.
For the past decade I have somehow managed to get away wearing ‘business casual’ and ‘casual Friday’ dress every day. I don’t own a suit. I still don’t know how to braid my hair. And all these other concerns don’t exactly fit into my daily repertoire, which maybe includes brushing my hair before jumping on my bike and pedaling up to campus. I have yet to consider how I am getting to work once it snows. Clearly, I am not ready to be an adult.
But I guess it doesn’t really matter. Ready or not, here it comes. And according to my doctor, there is no point worrying about it. Because your past and your future are written in your genes. Some of it can be altered, some of it can’t. So go. Live well. And call me if you notice any changes.
For some people, this answer may not be satisfactory. Maybe it sounds like a cop out attempt by a busy physician trying to get me out of her office so she can move on with her day. But maybe she is just right. Some things are out of our control.
Growing up, we are told: You can be anything. President of the United States. Just work hard. Put your head down and move forward. Growing up, we are not told: You will likely not be President of the United States. Still. Work hard. Put your head down and be happy. We aren’t really prepared for things not working out the way we planned. For being okay with a position in middle management.
Sometimes I think we rely too much on data for our failures, or for things that do not go our way in life. We scrub it for answers. We twist it until it seems to fit our case. We need something to explain why we are where we are. We need to be able to pinpoint where we veered off course.
For me, it doesn’t leave much room for chance, gray areas, or shit luck. I can work on my speed, I can work on my endurance, but I take great comfort knowing there are just some things I cannot improve in my life. No matter what I eat. How much I sleep. Whether I drink, or smoke, or worry. Because I have a tendency of worrying too much. For me, this answer was perfect. I have worked hard. I am doing everything right. And I am the way I am.