Maggie's Field Notes
Advice and counseling from Maggie
Maggie is our advice columnist and is happy to offer you advice and guidance in many areas of your life. Ask Maggie completely anonymously for any advice, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I feel like this past year has completely changed me. There are things about myself that I don't like now. I feel like a different person. Will I ever change back? How do I get back to who I was?
-Unknown, West Seattle
You will not change back. Our movement, as living creatures, is forward. There is no way to erase what has changed us. That doesn't mean the good parts of yourself that you once admired are gone forever. They are all still within you.
Inside of your heart is a door. Open it. Behind the door is every person you've ever encountered: your mailman's sun-red hands, your barista's blue eyes, your mother and father holding your small hands as you stand for the first time. People change us. Our experiences don't vanish. They are there, behind the door, pressed like flowers into the pages of a book. What you once loved about yourself may seem lost, but it's just buried under the new occupants of the room.
You won't be changing back, but you can and should open the door in your heart and scavenge through what you have collected in this past year. Reorganize. Recognize that you can't throw anything out of the room. Garbage doesn't exist there. Set aside the negative things you have attained in the past year: bad behaviors, new social anxieties, distrust. Put them beneath the brown quilt in the back corner. Understand that you are learning from them. Nothing in life is attained without the benefit of learning from it. Find what you once loved about yourself. It's waiting to be dusted off and placed back on the shelf, where it belongs.
'Close your eyes and imagine the best version of you possible. That’s who you really are, let go of any part of you that doesn’t believe it.' -C. Assaad
I just found out that I may not be able to have children. I used to think that one of the main purposes of life was to reproduce and be a parent. How can I come to terms with this?
-Losing Meaning, West Seattle
Dear Losing Meaning:
A parent's work is hard, but I can think of nothing more fulfilling. I'm sorry to hear the sad news you have received, but there is light to be found elsewhere. You could still parent a child. Or, certainly, you could find purpose and meaning in your life outside of child-rearing.
Let your life serve the purpose of bettering the lives around you. Let your life's purpose be in providing love and assistance to your friends and family. Everyone has their own unique purpose, or many! Having biological children is also not the only way to become a parent. If you strongly feel that your personal purpose in life is to be a parent, you could adopt. There are many children in the world who are in need of a parent that feels so strongly about the prospect of raising a child.
'It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God.' -Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
When I think about my boyfriend of seven years proposing to me, I feel like I'm not ready. If I don't know that I want to spend the rest of my life with him now, will I ever know?
-No Kneeling Please, Admiral
Dear No Kneeling Please:
Marriage is a leap of faith. No one knows what the future holds or what their life will be like in twenty years. Much is left to the whims of the world. Certainly a path awaits you. Marriage is an acknowledgement that despite the uncertainty of the path, two people are willing to join hands and say: 'I choose to stay with you.' It is the confirmation that you will continue to plod the yellow ground and carve a path in the earth that keeps the two of you running together, a river of merged water.
Your longevity together as a couple serves a basis for my understanding that there is a deep love between you. What you need to ponder over is whether your reluctance to marry is due to general anxiety about the fluctuating nature of the future or an unhappiness with your current partner. If it's the latter, talk openly with your partner about how you are feeling. Let him know what is standing between the two of you. That is the only way he or she will be able to fix it. If it's the former, feel reassured by the fact that marriage is not a denial of the fluctuating nature of the future. Rather, it is an acceptance of that fluctuation and an agreement to hold hands in the changing waters.
'There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit./ There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle.' -Pablo Neruda
The song of doves is within their flight together.