Friday, August 28, 2009

This makes me sound completely insane, but I'm 95% sure that I'm not.

I've started this bloody post three times!!  I'm trying to be funny, witty, humorous ... pretty much everything I don't feel right now, so I'm just going to write it the way I feel - it may lack some of the grace and charm of other posts, but - hey, I think that exists mostly in my head anyway!

I have always felt that I am two very different people forced to live inside one body.  There is the sarcastic, independent feminist me who is skeptical of anything resembling religion, conservatism or traditional gender roles, and then there's the shy, calm homebody me who is deeply spiritual and wants nothing more than to have a family.  Needless to say, my two "mes" don't get along.  Life might be a bit easier - if not exponentially more complicated - if I had a third me, the mediator, the one who sets priorities, goals, passions and then decides what of the other two "mes" is best suited to take the lead in any given situation.  This, however, is not the case.  Both my mes (is this getting complicated for anyone else?!) have equally loud voices, equally strong pulls and hate the priorities of the other "me" equally as much.  There is no middle ground.  When I was younger these two mes ... 

(okay - wait - time-out; this whole "mes" stuff is getting really confusing for me, so I'm sure it is for you, and given my inclination for naming things, it only makes sense to give my two mes different names: feminist me is now Xena, Warrior Princess and homebody me is now Laura Ingalls Wilder ... okay, time-in)

... When I was younger, Xena and Laura played nicely - they generally got along and even helped each other out; when Laura was too shy for a party, Xena would step in; when a situation required more delicacy and tact than Xena could manage, along came Laura.  Now that they are both all grown up, however, with heir own dreams, goals, passion, etc. they have realized that only one of them can get their way, and they are fighting tooth-and-nail for the complete destruction of the other.  Now that I'm in my mid-twenties (on my out of my mid-twenties, actually) I really need to start making some life choices - deciding which way to go, what path I want to be on, which one of the "mes" dies - Xena or Laura - because I really don't see how they will coexist happily again.

Meet my two-personalities (see - I told you you didn't want to live in my mind):

Xena has an exuberant passion for life.  She's a fierce friend and companion and has unreasonably high expectations of herself and others; most people fall very short of these expectations and her disappointment is keenly felt.  Xena wants to live a fast-paced, high-powered life in the big city, traveling extensively and being the absolute best in her field.  She loves having people around - thrives on activity - and truly wants to help the world.  She wants to get divorced just so she can live with the same person she's living with now, but not in the "conventional" way, "fuck this institution called marriage" (oh yes, and Xena swears ... A LOT).  She never sees herself having children - it wouldn't fit into her lifestyle or goals, and simply isn't a priority.

Laura, on the other hand, wants desperately to have children and is feeling their absence daily; she wonders if it's maybe already too late to start.  She deeply values her spirituality and wants to practice it, uninhibited by convention or space.  Give Laura 5 acres with trees, water and tools and she'll be absolutely content.  She wants to raise animals, spool wool, grow her own food, have a ground-cellar, and the space to create, work and live without having neighbors listen on the other side of the wall.  Laura is exceedingly private.  She has few friends, but those who are can expect absolute devotion and compassion.  She is quick to forgive herself and others and simply wants to live in peace with her family, her farm and her thoughts.

So, here I am - the big, main, body Me, Emily - housing these two totally different set of ideals and goals, trying to figure out what the hell I actually want from life - where am I going?  What am I doing?  Do I want the country or the city?  Friends and activity or family and peace?  Xena or Laura?  It has to be a choice - one or the other.  There is no compromise or middle ground; neither of them would be happy with that; both would be disappointed and unfulfilled.   If I make a decision, however, I think I will also mourn the loss of the life-not-chosen, the death of the other me.  I know it has to happen, but how do you choose to kill half of your dreams - half of yourself?  How do you decide which path to follow?


  1. Similar to this and yet also different is a documentary I watched not to long ago (and then bought because I found it so interesting). Your post reminded me of it. It is called Searching for Debra Winger and was done by Rosanna Arquette. I think you would find it really interesting. You should look it up. I highly recommend it.

  2. I have already killed a half of my self. And I feel so bad, for I miss her so much. However, one should be choose. I am in your position, has choose Laura for my life. But, Xena always come and tease me. You know what I did to her? Burried her in my diary...
    Choose one and kill the others....

  3. first, I don't think you are insane at all. =) I think that your blogs are so relevant to the twenty-something woman of today...or at least they are often relevant to my own life and experiences.

    I have faced similar dilemmas. First, I tried to decide whether I wanted to be an editor or a school psychologist and after that I was torn between being a school psychologist or a clinical psychologist. Both times I found myself struggling to decided between a life in which I was pursuing my career-related passions to their fullest extent or finding a way to have a career and somehow also be the kind of mother I want to be and pursue all of my non-work related passions, like traveling, cooking, writing, and reading. It all just felt so important and I couldn't see a way to reconcile all of my interests and all of the things I wanted to accomplish in the one life I have. In my case, I did try to find a compromise between the two (or three) sides of me, but the jury is still out as to whether my life will turn out as planned. =) I chose school psychology because I will be able to live anywhere, take the summers off (good for pursuing my other non work-related passions), work part-time or take time off to raise I family if I choose, and still find enjoyment and feel as though I am making a difference in my career. However, this is a particularly rosy picture of the future and I am sure that there will be some twists along the way...

    Anyway, back to the point I originally wanted to make. When I was making my decision I tried to imagine myself as a 50 or 60-year old. I thought about the things I would want to occupy my thoughts and life at that age and the experiences I would most regret not having and those that I would be the most fulfilled by. I think it really helped me make a final decision. I guess we will see if I am right about my predictions, but so far, so good!!

    I really love reading your blogs...everytime I feel as though I came away with something or learned something about myself by reading them. =) Tonight I had Matthew read your blog too and we had a nice discussion about the challenges facing women in the modern world. =)

    Anyway, thanks Emily! (And sorry for rambling on...I tend to be very long-winded)

  4. Have you ever wondered if that is the whole point to having two sides of yourself? Because maybe the two sides make up the WHOLE you? I don't think you HAVE to've made it this far just fine. Just let it work itself out :)

  5. i can so relate to this post. especially that last paragraph...i feel like i have been trying to answer those questions for years! oy. i tend to agree with jillian though! both those sides make up who you are as a whole....if you let one go completeley, you might not feel, well, complete!

  6. So, choose EmilyLaura - she's more time-sensitive. Because EmilyXena WILL be there to pop out and make her so much cooler & not lame. In other words, you'll always wonder what it would be like to be all Xena, but Xena will never really matter how hard you try to kill her. You won't be letting Xena go at all-she'll just sit back & bide her time. You'll just be forcing her to let Laura have a turn. Because REALLY...Xena's had far more of a share. And when you're done raising itty bitty BabySquirrels, Xena will once again have her whole chance. Think about it - BabySquirrels need someone who is a compassionate Laura for hugs and to let them know that they'll always be loved & a nice bitch-slapping Xena to push them to strive for their best(AND if for no other reason than to make sure those other little shits out there don't step out). :) That and Xena will be proud of her kick-ass contributions to Laura's masterpieces.


  7. Spirituality is so important. I think you mentioned this in a prior blog. I wonder if Xena experiences spirituality differently from Laura. For instance, Xena may not have many, if any, rituals, but perhaps being a warrior is how she experiences life in its fullness. What is she a warrior for? Is Laura a warrior in any way?


  8. Krissi - I'll have to see if the library has that documentary; it sounds interesting - I like watching people who are the same kind of crazy I am!

    Diansyll - *sigh* I know I'll have to eventually choose, but I'm just not ready to give up part of me ...

    Rachel - that's a really good way to look at things - when I'm 50 or 60 what I am going to want to see in my life ... I'll have to think on that for awhile. I certainly don't think that my experience is unique, especially for women - there definitely is still a choice to be made between family and career, which is essentially what this boils down to; I want both, but I'm such an "all-or-nothing" kind of person that it's hard to see a happy medium ... something with summers off would be nice ...

    Jill and Meg- You're both totally right; it IS the two halves that make up the whole me, but they just don't get along! I WANT to be able to live with both, I guess I just haven't figured out how to yet! I won't feel complete if I give up one half, I just wonder if making a decision one way or the other is better than making neither side happy ... ? I don't know the answer to this.

    Heather - Laura-Emily is definitely more time sensitive. It's ridiculous how completely unprepared I feel for children, and therefore absurdly frustrating that my body is telling me, "it's now or never, baby!" Grrr ... I think having children would be a wonderful experience, but I just don't know that I'm willing to give up a career for it, and I hate that I feel that I have to make that choice.

    Ash - Xena definitely experiences spirituality differently than Laura, and rarely identifies it as such; her spirituality is completely entwined with hard work and helping others. It's a very outwardly focused spirituality, where Laura's is inwardly focused: family, self, earth ... and vice-versa Laura is a warrior as well - a warrior for peace and family ... they are both very strong personalities - passionate about their own things, and in that they are similar.

  9. Reading this, all I could keep thinking was, "Wow! Your me's and MY me's would make perfect friends." A lot of the time, I have the same problem and I also have not figured out what to do. I am just kind of already on a path of a healthy mixture of the two where they can both play nicely (hopefully) but at the same time, it really feels like a dead end. My advice (Like I know what the hell I'm ever talking about) is to just answer your questions you've asked yourself at the end and see which one has a louder voice. (strong, feminist me is always louder, so she's always shouting and causing a ruckus.)

  10. hey there! don't worry, you're not the only one in this situation. I do feel like i have 2 personalities as well. but i also feel like there's no need to divide those 2 or to choose. i mean Xena and Laura are YOU. there's no way you make one of them shut up or worse kill one part of your dream. i think you only need to accept you're those 2 girls and learn how to balance it.
    First step: accept you're in that position
    Second step: learn which one is expressing herself when and how
    Third step: find a balance or find a way to use the perfect side of you depending on the situation you're in (just like when you were a child). that is so interesting though because it makes me ask myself why we can do it without problem when we're children and it's suddenly so complicated when we are in our 20s ... any thouhts?

  11. I think there's more expectations when we're older. When we're kids the entire world is open to us - we can be anything we want to be! - it's a super rosy picture with no complications. When we get older, however, there are choices to be made. When we're kids people still tell us that women are men are more equal in the work place, that you can be both a career woman and a mother, which - I'm sorry - is bullshit. To a large degree women still have to make the choice between the two: sacrifice your career for your family, or sacrifice your family for your career - you can't expect to do both full time and do them well! Do I really want to work my ass off getting a PhD just to not be promoted because I have a child (of course it's much more complicated than that - passing on time-intensive projects, family sick-leave, etc., but essentially it's because you have kids). Of course men do face this as well, but let's be honest - it's not nearly as difficult in THIS regard as it is for women (they have their own set of issues!). It's in our 20s that we're having to make these decisions - I think that's why it's harder to make our personalities play nice.

  12. There are some incredible things Xena can do while in the Laura mode. A definite need for Xena personality is when coaching a little league team. The parents can be difficult! A home based business can combine the talents of both personalities. Volunteering for a fire department really requires the Xena personality.