After many years of observation and experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to succeed in a job like mine is to be cool and reserved. Sometimes I’ve been lucky enough to find an ally at work with whom I can share gallows humor, but the higher I go, the more difficult that becomes. Instead I spend a good portion of my energy at work trying to suppress my personality, thoughts, and emotions, even while handling one impossible situation after another. When I slip and let my personality through, I often feel like I’ve made a mistake.
It’s only when I come home from work, shut the door, and am alone that it feels safe to let my hair down. Although I try to retain some openness to “meeting someone,” I can no longer imagine throwing myself into the brutality of the dating market on top of dealing with this job. If it happens, it will have to be serendipitous. Same with friendships. Children have finally come to represent additional conflict and stress at a time in my life when I crave less of those things.
Last weekend I spent almost an entire day at home reading through a stack of brilliant books, and I was delirious with happiness. Few things make me as happy anymore.
Some people may lose heart with trying for connection after their first brush with loss or disappointment; others bounce back time after time. I think I’ve finally reached my personal tipping point. I’m making peace with the idea that the coming years will be about building the nest egg that will allow me to retire to a frugal and solitary but free life filled with good books and, possibly, a dog.
Soon I will do the thing I vowed not to do in that I will sit down with paper, pen, and my various financial statements to figure out when that day might come. It will probably take at least eight years, maybe more. I will continue to schedule in points of light in my calendar, but underneath it all I will be moving steadily toward that goal.