Recently, Oprah said most people, especially women, lead their lives following a course that is not their own.
I mean, you’ve noticed, right? How a woman will partner up with a guy, and pretty soon she sounds like him. Maybe even looks like him, body-wise. She used to be thin, now she’s not. She used to be debt-free, now she’s a spendthrift. Used to be politically apathetic, but now she’s a passionate partisan.
This phenomenon fascinates me. I want to write a book about it, a novel of four women who, over the course of a summer all realize they’ve fallen victim to this. I don’t really want to write about a younger woman – I figure we all did it when in our teens and twenties, but then you start to figure out who you are and what you need, and theoretically, you don’t become the clone anymore. No, the people who interest me are the older women who are still stuck in this mire, whether they know it or not, and whether they change or not.
Of course, this is only a problem if it’s a problem. Sometimes people influence each other for the better. In some ways, I’m my husband’s mini-me, but that’s more a case of God shaking her head in despair and sending me a car salesman, due to the fact that I desperately needed somebody to show me how not to be such a doormat and martyr. But I’m not talking about the good influencers, and neither was Oprah. She said,
Unless you find a course that is truly your own, you betray yourself, and then you’re no different than the person who betrayed or hurt you.
Sometimes pain is sweet. The fact that we’re not “allowed” to clean up the garage, because he insists on things being a certain way, means we get license to complain without actually having to do anything about it. Not taking the reins is a relief, sometimes. So is the feeling of being limited by somebody else – it’s how a lot of us were raised, right? We’re told to be obedient, follow the rules, let the other person go first, give up our seat, be flexible. It becomes a habit. Pretty soon you’re afraid to take the reins, but it’s okay – you’re comfortable with it. Resentful, but comfortable.
Let me ask you this: What if you had no limitations? What if you could do, create, live, or be exactly what you wanted in the days, weeks, months, years to come? What goals would be on your list, and how fantastic would it be to realize those goals? Now, ask yourself what is standing in your way, and what can you do, if anything, to get around it? If you’re tempted to shrug and say, “Nothing,” I have a titillating question for you: are you happier with that answer than with the alternative?