Sunday, June 25, 2006

Repeat and rewind

A week ago, as almost every weekend, Dad called again. I love talking to him, but as I have mentioned before, there are just some issues that I dread. And once again, he tried “the talk”.
“Remember, I am not trying to tell you what to do”, he said. I knew immediately what was coming, and my stomach knotted up.
“But I had a chat with Sabine the other night. And we were both thinking that maybe it is better for you if you come back to Germany.”
“Dad…”, I began.
“I know”, he hurried to say, “but don’t you think it is better for you to be around your family?”
“Dad, we’ve had this conversation. I am not coming back.” I couldn’t stop myself from sounding somewhat antagonised.
“Don’t you think it will be easier for you to find a job here?”
Well, I knew what he meant by that. It meant that he would get me a job somewhere. Man, I really don’t know what it is, but why does he decide to be supportive now that I am nearly 30? I could have used it when I was 15, but then all was geared towards making me independent, which was mostly throwing me in cold water.
Dad seems to have this idea that I am an undervalued genius kid who shouldn’t do retail. But I love my job. I love the book trade. It’s not that I wanna be stuck in a bookshop for the rest of my life, but I have no problem of learning all about it and use it as a stepping stone into publishing.
“Dad, remember this. Everything I wanted I got eventually, but most of it I got later than expected. But I got it! I don’t mind having to wait and work for a few years, and nothing is wasted time."
"I know. You're right. But just think about it. When you come to visit, let's just have a talk: you, Sabine and me. We all put down our views and discuss this like reasonable adults."
The knot in my stomach grew instantly bigger. Don't get me wrong, I love Dad and Sabine and they are great people. But this talk wouldn't be among us three, it would be them versus me.
The problem is, I am not good at discussing these things.
"Dad, there is nothing to discuss. I have made up my mind already. I don't want to go back. It would be like admitting I have failed."
"That's bullshit", he said.
"It's not to me. I am happy here. I have achieved one step in life I wanted to go, and that was to get away. Why would I throw that away?"
He sighed. "Alright. Just allow me to think about it. Not worry... just think about it. Okay?"
"Okay", I said.
I know he means well. I keep saying that. And I enjoy that he cares, but at this point it suffocates me more than anything.

I think what really gets me is this. I dunno how it all came to be, but because I was so shy and timid and anxious as a kid and it was hard for me to slip out of my comfort zones, my parents came to believe that I would never amount to anything (mother), or manage to go through with anything. Dad only started to believe in me when I rebooted my life by dropping out of school and becoming an au pair. I got a job and worked for a year to pay nearly 4,000 DM for driving lessons to get the required license, and did an unpaid internship in a kindergarten and loads of babysitting to get my childcare references. It was then that I learned that determination is what gets you what you want, and to persist even when things don’t look rosy or don’t bring immediate results. Being a nanny made me grow up and completely turned my life around, but the fact is that Dad never thought I could go through with it till the very end. He only became convinced after I got back. I dunno why suddenly he seems to have forgotten.
Him trying to “help” me this way really is a way of saying that I am inadequate, and it makes me feel the way I felt as a kid. Not having your parents believe in you is a fucking stumbling stone for a kid, it’s weakening and discouraging because we look to parents for everything, and I remember how hard it was for me to work up the courage to face all I wanted to do on my own.
I am just tired of being under scrutiny, of feeling like I owe an explanation for everything I do, of having to live up to expectations. I know Dad means well, but the underlying issue is that he doesn’t trust I can do it on my own. It makes me feel like I am 5 again, and I hate that feeling. That’s why I want total independence, so I don’t have to explain myself anymore. I know I shouldn’t let it affect me, but I guess I am just wired that way. I know better than thinking that other people’s views are an accurate description of who I am, but reminding myself that this is not the case, but that I can be whatever I want to be or do whatever I want to do, is hard sometimes.
I need all the encouragement I can get, and it does disappoint me when I am not getting it from the people I need it from. Not disappoint. It scares me. It scares me when it comes from people who know me well, because what if they are right? I don’t even want to finish the thought... it turns the knot in my stomach into a ball of pain.
I tried to explain to my dad that my main goal in life isn’t a career. It’s happiness. Having a career is just one way to achieve it... but one thing I know for sure is that I could never find that happiness in Germany. My only happiness would derive from the hope of me one day getting away from it. I’d rather be a waitress in England than a publisher in Germany. Knock on wood that I never have to get there to prove my point.

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