Learn to define yourself

Published 9:33 am Thursday, March 3, 2011

Somewhere between Charlie Sheen’s multiple rantings on seemingly any show that he can get on, I found something worthy of my attention in Tuesday’s news headlines.

While taking in an interview of Sarah Brokaw (daughter of former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw) for her new book “Fortytude”, which chronicles her “aha moment” in her 40s when Brokaw realized that although she had lived the life she wanted, those thoughts of traditional values still echoed in her head.

She noted how her parents had been blissfully married for 47 years and though Brokaw’s life had not gone that traditional path of womanhood: engagement, marriage and children, she questioned if her life had taken a misstep.

Then came her “aha moment” when she realized it didn’t have to be that way, that there should be no shame in what path her life took because she had enjoyed it thus far.

While I’m closer to my 30s than 40s, I found somewhat of a parallel between Brokaw’s thoughts and my own. Last year, I had somewhat of a similar epiphany after I had been to one too many weddings in a year and, on top of it, my 10th high school class reunion, where everyone seemed to have children.

I wasn’t going through the motions alone. One of my close friends was voicing the same concerns of being frustrated with how her life had not turned out on a personal level.

Women tend to be like that. We’re filled with plans and ideas of how our lives are supposed to go and for the most part it’s a tedious dance for us. Like Brokaw, it’s instilled in us from the beginning by society that women are supposed to take that traditional path of spouse and family. Now days we’re expected to take it a step further and have career, spouse and family.

However, in the end, many of us are forced to choose between spouse and family or career. Yet somehow if we misstep in that “dance” from that traditional path, we are quickly reminded by our family, friends and society at-large.

Last year, something became very clear to me that we all have different paths. In the end it’s about whether or not you’re happy with the path you chose, or even create.

That life plan in your mind is meaningless unless it’s filled with things you want to accomplish, not what others imply you need. Worrying about the future or the possible “missteps” that occurred in the past will get you nowhere.

Furthermore, you have to learn to define yourself because no one else will do it for you.

While I still hear from my friend about how she believes her life should go, there’s a part of me that still wishes she will find that peace of mind and I hope she finds a way to enjoy her path.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: amanda.vanderbroek@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7209.