Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Fig Tree

Here is a quote from Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar:

"I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.
From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out.
I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as i sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet".

I love it because it is sad and tantalizing and ambitious and distraught... and I can empathize! Since I started working as a dietitian, I vacillate between what else to be - I since have gotten a Masters, a Board Certification to specialize and have sought and reached  a management level position. This all tells me I am looking for a more fulfilling role within my profession. But if given the opportunity, I toil with changing the profession all together - I'll go to Medical school- Neurology, I decided. No, that takes too long, too demanding, too family sacrifices... I'll go to PA school, about two years, function like a doctor, improved income....No, I don't want to go back to school just to feel like someone's bitch, someone's assistant.... I'll be a pharmacist! That is what I started out aiming to do out of High School - I worked in pharmacies, I applied and got in to several pharmacy programs. But, no, gosh it's boring the work you actually do as a pharmacist - pill counting, retail, measuring- and it will take like 5 years of classes with uncertain stimulation value. I'll be a Psychologist, I love the mind, I do enjoy counseling, which I do as an RD, I can work part time at my will, and make better money...But can't I do the same thing if I just get a Masters in Social Work?? With that interesting 2 year degree I can be reimbursed for counseling and spin the angle of nutrition with eating disorder clients, adjustment to new disease diagnosis, (such as those nutrition related) as well as a mix of other issues that I enjoy talking about :) But what do I enjoy possibly the most of all? Writing. Should I write a book? Should I attempt to publish my poetry? Should I combine writing and nutrition and write a nutrition related book?? A cooking book with my own healthy twists on recipes, since that is a hobby of mine?? (more fig branches) But, with writing, there are so many writers out there already, my niche could quite possibly be saturated. And it feels very invasive and vulnerable to display my poetry to anyone and everyone - it's like letting thousands of complete strangers into your personal world and thoughts. I can't even write a cyber blog without disguising my names and locations!
The other paramount fig branch, which I do snack upon now while looking at the others, is being a mother. The job with no degree required, no qualifications whatsoever. The job with a reward that is internal and gratifying while equally discouraging, overwhelming and trying. It is the most difficult and purposeful job I have ever done. When you are given advice on choosing a career, you are told to take on a job that you find purpose in, a job that you love, a job that gives you a sense of accomplishment and worth. In this job, my clients take me as I am, I don't have to wear a suit, I don't have to wear make up. No one has made a comment if I wore my pj's all day and didn't brush my teeth until mid morning. My clients don't complain if I give them the same presentation two days in a row and they applaud with praise if I simply give them the genuine gift of my presence. My clients are loyal to my business, whether I fail or prevail - they will stick by me and do it with unbending love and appreciation - just because I am their boss. There is no politics. There is no merit increase, or withholding of an annual raise. There is a lunch buddy, a movie partner, a playmate, a stimulating learning environment for boss and client, there is a challenge, and there is job security.
I guess the adjustment to motherhood is protracted and when they get to an age where you can breathe again, your mind searches for a bit of that selfish craziness. And not to leave out the wonderful husband I have who listens to ALL my ramblings, supports my curiosity and praises my talents like no other person could do.

So here I sit in the fig tree with lots of branches that I could reach if I wanted to, but unlike Sylvia Plath I do partake in the sweetest figs in front of me that I snack on. I will most likely continue to let the other figs shrivel up and google new figs and make spreadsheets if I so fancy. But I actually have all that I want- I have a job that I do on a daily basis that I feel more passionately about than anything else, I have degrees and qualifications in a field that I actually do love, preach and practice - these tools can find me the counseling job that could balance me out and fulfill me, I have a business partner that is infinitely supportive, knowledgeable, committed, and I have my wonderful friend in these words, in this anonymous blog - more for my benefit than anyone elses, I bet - that just revealed right in front of me now where on that fig tree I should be.

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