I try very hard not to be a superficial, shallow creature.
But I am trained to look for things of beauty and compositions which sing to soul and eye. I live in the world of impressions and design and aesthetics. I spent years in school and then professionally honing my snobbish visual sensibilities.
It is practically bred into me to be drawn towards that which is a beautiful, clean-cut, complete.
(Hey, at least I am honest)
Life, however, has a rather wicked sense of humor.
And often the thing we truly want, and yes need, most in life will come your way in unexpected packaging. The challenge in life is to see past that surface and appreciate the content. It’s a continual challenge for me personally. And it factors into many aspects of life…
FAMILY MATTERS –
I am blessed with a close-knit family. We are small and simple… with really no complex dynamics to speak of.
**NOTE- I am not implying any negativity to less traditional family arrangements. In fact, I often find my family to be rather vanilla and dull with just the one set of parents, two siblings and a handful of cousins. Talk about the small side at the wedding ceremony!
We are that pure little nuclear, lacking any steps or exs or much in the way of extended. My family looks like what it does, and that is my own personal normal. At the moment we are a nice little paired up group of parental units and siblings. (Well, as soon as I get my butt settled down we will be nice and complete and wrapped up, that is.)
But then I went out into the world and extended my social setting beyond my family. And discovered an unending plethora of family makeups. Families whose complicated relationships and terminology and interconnections made my brain hurt. Families for whom I need at least a chart or tree or three to understand from a technical standpoint.
Some families also have nothing to do with bloodlines or genes. They are collected and amassed and forged out of purposeful decisions, similarities, a little bit of chance or need and the ability to recognize love in many forms.
And these families have just as much worth and value as mine. It’s just different packaging.
Learning to see how the same concept of family can be expressed in a variety of configurations was an early and valuable lesson for me.
CAREER MATTERS –
(I will start by throwing it out there that I adore what I do, and pretty much recognized my desired career path in 4th grade. So for me, this packaging/content discussion isn’t about finding the type of work you want to be in.)
When I finished grad school in NYC, I wanted to stay there. I could picture my life there. Barring that, I was awfully set on moving back to my beloved PNW (That’s the Pacific Northwest for the uninitiated). Anywhere along a coast. I am a water girl… and both east and west contain family and the ocean.
And then this amazing job opportunity quite literally fell into my lap out of the blue. I wasn’t looking to move to Denver. It was a place I had lived and loved, but a seeming lifetime earlier when I was a different person in a different place in life. I had done Denver. I had moved on.
Denver had ghosts I had no interest in revisiting.
But the job…. the job made me salivate. I had an instant connection with my future boss. It was the type of work that really was my dream. The type of experience I would be lucky to find in 10 years, let alone right out of school. I would be idiotic to turn it down.
However the packaging made me pause.
It was not the place I wanted to live, not the region, not the city, not the proximity to family, and not the fresh start I craved. It felt like backtracking in my personal life to advance in my career.
I fought it. I fought the logic of it all and looked that gift horse in the mouth and balked.
I had, however, been foolish enough to make a bold statement to my mom not that long beforehand, stating how I had faith in the universe and was just going to put it out there and trust that the right thing would come my way. I had just assumed the right thing would be in NYC or Seattle.
Fate called my bluff and I paid up. I manned up and moved to Denver with hope and trepidation. Is it the ideal physical location where I want to be? Maybe not. Was it the best thing I could have done? Absolutely.
Underneath that unappealing ghost-filled packaging was pure career gold, once I recognized it.
MATTERS OF THE HEART –
This one is the trickiest, dear blogosphere. Really the only unresolved aspect of these three for me. And the one I struggle with the most.
Let me be very frank. I think it is natural and normal to have a mental picture of who you imagine ending up with. For me that includes college educated (since I am an education snob), white collar job, near my own age, comparable socio-economic and family background. A similar lifestyle and habits and social circles just make sense.
I feel as though if you were to do a line-up of the men I have dated over the years, it would look like a schizophrenic casting call. Shortish, really tall, maybe a slight propensity for lanky, tan, pasty, light, dark, blond, brunette, red heads and some unnatural hair colors too. I am not aware of having a clear cut physical type.
I certainly have a personality type; driven individuals, thinkers and a bit nerdy. Perhaps with a touch of charisma and bravado as a bonus. But that is content… and we should get back to that pesky packaging.
I think it’s human nature to expect to be drawn to someone whose superficial aspects mirror your own.
And I have certainly gotten caught up in the “good on paper” relationships. And some of them have been about as flimsy as said paper, with no depth or connection on the things that actual matter.
The content I really want in a romantic partner?
- Someone who is kind.
- Someone who is generous of heart and wants to make a positive impact.
- Someone who isn’t willfully ignorant or naive, but still optimistic.
- Someone who listens, thinks and challenges me to think differently.
- Someone with an adventurous spirit, even if life hasn’t let them explore it.
- Someone who is just a straight-up good person with a good soul.
I know, that is a specific and demanding list. But you know what it doesn’t include?
Physical descriptions. List of accomplishments. Job title. The old-school A/S/L declarations from early online chat rooms. Any of the basic things you peruse first on an online dating profile.
It doesn’t include any of the packaging.
Because packaging shouldn’t matter in the important aspects of life.
Just like my job, and just like with my family and even my friendships, I absolutely believe the right thing WILL come along if I open myself up and let the universe do it’s job. Quality content may not come in the form I expect it to. And it’s my own personal challenge to be receptive. Try and see the forest for the trees, if you will.
Especially in someone that could really be something wonderful under the superficial surface.
I hope I can see past the packaging to the content of everything in life, but especially in the people I meet.
I hope you can too.