Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Timing of Expectations and Disappointments

I was preparing my day when I stopped in the middle of my morning to ponder things that have recently occurred.

In the months before the winter break, I tried to make a conscious decision to be less outwardly focused and more inwardly focused. That seems like a strange thing for me, an introvert with a few extrovert tendencies, to not be strictly developing my own goals and aspirations.

When I decided to pull back, not completely logged off, I also decided to evaluate my own level of expectations and disappointments over the past two years that I was "on" so much.

One of the first personal disappointments and reminders to be patient centered on my thoughts of obtaining my doctorate.

I was only a few were chosen to attend, all expenses covered. It was at that conference that the unquenching thirst for knowledge and teaching filled me with optimism. I even aspirationally posted a photo of myself as Dr. and pondered if my then-forty-something age would prevent me from seeking this goal.

The years that followed found me studying for the GRE, my old GMAT scores were outdated and despite my still-un-framed MBA was well earned, it was not good enough to get me into a doctoral program. It was also at that same time that I decided that I needed to take some classes. Coursera came to me at just the right time to consider my life in liberal arts versus marketing or advertising.

Time has a funny way of not waiting for one to be finished with whatever one is doing.

Children also have a hilarious way of demanding our time and attention for the eighteen years of hand-on parenting needed to develop fully actuallized adults.

Both seemed to flip my calendar pages to include my youngest son now being a senior in college, my middle son a  married man and father, my oldest son a writer, producer, and artist, and my two daughters now in middle school.

I stopped and looked around my home office, glanced at the photos on the wall, the books on the shelf, and wondered if there was still time for me to do what I wanted to do and still guide the girls to their fullness.

The funny thing about my pondering is that it doesn't seem all that unique to me, a now Jubilee plus one woman that was told they only wanted those "fresh out of undergraduate so we can groom them" doctoral candidates. What was I possibly thinking about getting another degree? Did I even need one to be relevant, accepted, or considered for my contribution?

When I pulled back from social commentary about all things Black Lives Matter, I pulled into what I was doing to make lives matter within my St. Louis suburban sphere of influence.

As a perpetual educator, I'm preparing for my third summer of a youth literary circle, I've started a parent educational support group, and while not active in Ferguson as much, am still consulted about things related to parent advocacy and education. I served on a community task force examining the flaws of majority dominated educational paradigms as it relates to minority students in suburban districts. I was asked again to run for office and declined. There was a board request and a committee appointment to add to my already full calendar, and of course, there was the issue of my writing.

I am a Jones Generation woman and wondered if that put me at odds with the Baby Boomers and Millennials who are vying for attention. Were we voices squeezed out of conversations on equity, inclusion, diversity, access, and lives? Did it matter that I was a middle-aged, well educated black woman of mixed bag heritage that was not ready to go sit in a rocking chair? Would I have to make one more change to my résumé to go to work full-time in my field or would another client seek out my advice but not want to hire me because they couldn't afford my rate? Do men of my age experience the same questions or is it expected that gray on a man indicates wisdom?

My pondering of place and purpose led me to just pull back and embrace the disappointments of time and place.

There is absolutely nothing I can do about the last few  years that shifted expectations and increased doubt. There was some consolation in speaking with other black women in my age range who shared the same frustrations, dashed hopes, and diminishing expectations as the slowing recover seems to leave us standing there  with unwanted résumés, We gathered together to lament and strategize and ponder what we may need to "do it ourselves."

A group of "iron sharpening iron" cheerleaders was just what I needed and in the past few months, sought to be and give.

We encouraged each other on adventures, decided we were not too old to write that book, go back to school, travel abroad, or even pack up and leave a place where comfort began to wane. We decided we were worth the focus and the challenge.

What I learned in personally accepting that disappointments will happen, the calendar pages will turn, and expectations will still keep me hopeful, is that it is part of the life journey. In my uniqueness, I am also not that unique in wanting to fill my dash with challenges and contributions. I decided it was still possible.

The timing of exectations and disappointments will never come when we want, much like the snow that has yet to come or the flood waters that damaged communities this winter, we know that in the unexpected, we can sometimes step back and evaluate what matters most.

© 2008-2016, TFBG
Tayé Foster Bradshaw is a writer,latte lover, and avid wooden pen user who lives and works with her husband and last two children in a St. Louis suburb.

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