“One thing you’re going to need to do is stop comparing yourself to other people,” she said. “You can’t measure success or happiness or progress by other people’s standards. Nobody can. But especially not you. You’re never going to fit.”
Her name was Pam, and she was doing a psychic reading for me. She looked at my soul, she said, and while most people’s souls look like philosophers or sages – calm, collected, focused – she said mine was a circus performer.
No, not a circus performer. The whole three-ring circus.
“I see you on the trapeze,” she said, “and swallowing swords.” I told her that explained a lot.
She had told me to come prepared with a guiding question or two, and I told her that I was often uncomfortable in my own skin. There were so many things I loved to do, learn, make, and talk about. A little insight into which direction I should be moving in would be helpful. When she was led to my soul by her spirit guide (bear with me, okay?), she started laughing. I made a face.
“Is it that bad?” You don’t want your psychic to laugh at your soul.
She caught her breath. “I’m sorry, Tessa. It’s just – you have led so many hedonistic lives, and you are obviously trying not to do that in this life. But your soul is your soul, and it wants experience. It wants to experience everything, and you have to let it. For a little bit, anyway.”
Just when I think I’m ready to grow up.
I’ve lived my life in a swirl of phases. I learned the clarinet, no, the oboe, no, the violin – because I just had to. I wanted to be an actress, a writer, a veterinarian. I wanted to live in Ireland, in France, in New Mexico, and each time I got wrapped up in a new obsession I thought it might be the thing where at last I’d found my niche. I thought each would bring me some kind of peace, some feeling of belonging and expertise. There are many people in my life who take my interests as jokes, almost. These next big things are fleeting, best left alone, never to be encouraged. I understand the sentiment.
So my soul’s a circus.
“Don’t worry, you’ll feel really comfortable and settled by 45,” said Pam. I think she saw my lip twitch.
“We’ll put it this way: you’re a three-ring circus now, and you’ll settle on one ring around 35. But there’s still a lot going on in that one ring.”
And I wondered what this meant for all those normal life goals that people have. Even I, a circus, have them – marriage, kids, a house on a farm with a horse. Or at least the marriage, kids, and a place I call home all the time. I didn’t ask her about these things, because I thought that finding my niche would lead to the comfortable settlement that leads to these things. That’s what people do. In fact, that’s what many of my friends and family have done, and I feel I’m falling behind.
But according to her, I’ve been spending too much of my life trying to fit pegs into holes, because they just don’t. They won’t fit. I won’t fit.
So all this energy I’ve spent trying to figure out how to be a grown-up, now that I’m 30, is just short of a total waste. I have to think of what to do with my five years’ reprieve. She told me to travel, to write, to work in a theater. These have all been tugging at my insides for months, causing such anxiety as I tried to numb them. I told myself to shut up, to be reasonable, to think clearly and rationally. Whenever I tried to think of a five-year plan I was intimidated by a blank page, not sure what to do when there were so many impractical desires clouding my mind.
As usual, I was doing it wrong.
“You need to know that your soul wants to experience everything – art and travel and everything else that makes your heart race,” said Pam, and I nodded, teary. “And you need to stop thinking that’s a problem.”