The act of packing my bags, shipping out presents, and boarding that flight from LAX to DTW is always unnecessarily traumatic; usually, there are tears involved. When I was unemployed last year at this time, it was especially difficult. Part of the reason why I left Detroit – and haven’t moved closer since – was that I felt I needed to prove something. What, I don’t know exactly. But I wanted to make my own life and live the life I’d always imagined on my own terms.
And for the most part, I’m doing that. I have a job I like and that I’m good at, I am completely financially independent, I have a great group of friends, and have just completed my first semester of business school. Ninety percent of the time I think I live a pretty great life.
…and then I go home. There’s something about this particular trip this time of year that makes me feel inadequate. Like I should have made some sort of “transformation” while I was away, but have come back the same old Carolyn. I feel like my job isn’t good enough and that I’m not successful or pretty enough.
And the thing is that I have one of the most supportive families I could imagine. Perhaps it’s that they’re as thrilled for me when I don’t do anything as they are when I actually accomplish something. It’s been a truly amazing year. I got my real estate license, secured a new job, took my GMAT, went back to business school, ran a ½ marathon… we should all be pretty excited.
My parents want nothing more than for me to be happy, especially when I go to visit them. And honestly, I’m thrilled to be getting on that plane tonight. If nothing more than to escape the stresses that have seemed to recently crop up in LA, I’m getting out of dodge. I get to see old friends, build some sort of mid-century modern gingerbread house with my brother the architect, eat my weight in gourmet cheese and play with the little cousins. I know nobody’s judging me – they’re just excited to have me back for a few days. But I am. I can’t help but think of all the coulda, woulda, shouldas this time of year.