Monday, May 22, 2006

It's Never Too Late

It’s Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been- George Eliot

When I was a little girl I was raised by two wonderful parents and four sisters. There were a lot of advantages to being the youngest child, and the late child at that. It was great having the love of so many people, so many parents, and so many cheerleaders. There were also a lot of disadvantages too.

Thankfully I survived pretty much unscathed and with a lot of good qualities. But there is one negative trait in particular that I inherited that I have not faced until now that I’m an adult and that’s the “it’s too late syndrome.” I call it the “it’s too late syndrome” because ever since I was a child my family had this attitude that it was too late for anything. Basically, the attitude was that that ship had sailed and that there would never be another opportunity.

Example, I was a little girl of six watching the 1976 Olympics and I’m watching Nadia Comaneci making history, becoming the first gymnast to ever score a perfect 10. At those games she received 7 perfect 10s, 3 gold medals, one silver and one bronze. I remember telling my sisters that I wanted to become a gymnast and I was told that it was too late. That basically I needed to have started when I was three or four, because that’s when gymnasts began their training. I find out now as an adult that Nadia Comaneci began gymnastics at the age of 6.

The point is this, I didn’t want to become an Olympic winning gymnast necessarily. All I wanted was to take gymnastics. Maybe we were so poor that my sisters told me that so I wouldn’t dream for something I couldn’t have. Maybe that was their way of protecting me. Whatever their reason it was one of many times that I was met with that attitude or I heard that kind of negative language.

I loved ballet and I was told the same thing. In defiance, I took a summer ballet class when I was eleven. I was told by my sisters, that if I wanted to dance ballet I should have started when I was younger. Besides, they said, I was too fat. This negative behavior wasn't even my sisters' fault either. It was learned behavior from several generations back, passed down to ours. It was a family trait.

I’ll never forget the first time I found stretch marks on my body as a pre-teen and the look of pity and disgust I saw on my sisters’ faces when they found out. I felt like I was ruined. I might as well hang it up. I could never show my naked body to my husband because I was flawed. That was the message they sent to me, even if it wasn’t what they meant. (It wasn’t until that I was older that I saw stretch marks on my friend’s thighs that I realized that some people just get stretch marks.)

So I went the other way. If I was going to be a failure at my weight and my body I was going to become a winner with my mind. I was going to become educated and successful and therefore I wouldn’t need a husband to support me. So what if I was fat? Therefore the more educated I became the more weight I gained. I took on the attitude that I was self-sufficient and that looks didn’t matter. But it did. Health wise it was the worse thing for me, but no one ever put it that way to me.

Now that I am married and that I’m a mother I find myself working so hard not to transfer that negative attitude to my children. I have to fight so hard daily to not have that, “oh well, it’s too late anyway,” attitude about things in my own life. Little things that can add up to big things. Like weight loss. Like writing. Like getting things done. When my little girl tells me she wants to become a fire fighter, a doctor, a mother, I don’t tell her, “no.” I tell her she can be anything she wants to be because she can. We all can.

We are all waiting for the perfect time to do this or to do that. We’re waiting until the kids go to school, or the time changes, or until we retire, to do what? To start living and to do the things we really love?

My writing is not perfect, my blogging is not perfect. I just write for the sake of writing, like musicians play for the sake of playing, and artists paint to paint.

But I keep waiting for the perfect time to finish writing my novel. I keep waiting for one open day a week when I can go away by myself, or for the kids to go to sleep, or any excuse to write. And I know I just have to write and to finish it! Let the chips fall where they fall. That’s what editing is for. To fix all the imperfections, but at least I got it written. This is the “it’s too late” demon I must fight. What's yours?


Karla said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog.I love your blog! I sent you an email because I did not want to leave this LOOOONNNGGG comment on here.

Sangroncito said...

Good for you for being conscious about not transmitting the ¨it´s too late¨ message to your child.

Coco said...

It's never too late...
A valuable lesson to teach your little ones.

Un fuerte y caluroso abrazo.

ShoeGirl said...

Thank you for the wonderful e-mail Karla! It made me cry!

Sangro, Living it up in Colombia! Beautiful photos on your blog.

Coco, Thanks! Give your mom a hug from me.