I've always wanted people to like me.
It's been my greatest weakness and one which I share with plenty of the world's population. After all, humans are social creatures, right? Of course we are. But trying to live a life so others will "like" you leads down a steep, rocky slope to the badlands. It leads to anxiety, suffering, and unhappiness. I have no desire to wallow in that mire ever again.
Yesterday, our school's band director shared a nugget of wisdom he learned as an undergrad: when you take your first job, disband the booster club.
What? Throw away all the support? All the fundraising? All the advice?
His explanation: even though you might step on a few toes, it leaves you free to direct your band and run your own program without being beholden to a sea of sometimes disparate and not-so-reasonable voices. I live in a world of metaphor and didn't lose the correlation with my life. After Aimee died, I received support from scores of people and silent encouragement from even more. She touched many lives in Lawrence, undergraduate school at the University of Columbia, and all the way back to her childhood in St. Louis. Plenty of people wanted to give back. I get that. I respect it, too, and I'm grateful for those who care. I will always be grateful for those who care and share their love.
But I must make decisions for my life and the lives of my kids on my own. I continually feel pressure from those who would have me "be" Aimee--at least live my life as they assume it would be should she still be alive--but I'm not Aimee. Never was. Never will be. My life changed irrevocably with her death. I'm the director of this band and must do what is right for me and the boys--us. It might not be what someone else would choose. Likely, it won't be. I'll listen to advice, weigh its merits, but chose the path based on what we need.
Will I make mistakes? Sure. Will I take risks? Absolutely. Will there be hard days? Of course. Will there be joy and love and goodness? Of course--I know there will be plenty of love and goodness. The trail up the mountain is just as rocky as the way down--but I hear the lakes are clear and beautiful and the view breathtaking--much better than the swampland at the bottom of the hill.