I got an unhappy email recently from a unhappy adult speaking on behalf of another unhappy adult, accusing me of poor treatment and not respecting a longtime family relationship. The writer of the email stated that they were used to me “thumbing my nose at the world,” and were disappointed in my recent behavior. They said it like thumbing my nose was a bad thing.
I didn’t even know exactly what that phrase meant, so I looked it up and found (a) it’s an idiom and (b) it shows that “you do not respect rules, laws, powerful people or organizations or respect something or someone.” Yes. They’d nailed it. I still have no idea what this person is talking about or what situation they’re referring too, or why an adult is writing on behalf of another adult. And I don’t care to investigate. But I will admit that they’re totally right. I do thumb my nose at the world to some degree. And I think I’ve earned that right. The world had it coming.
For the most part, I’m actually a total rule follower. I listened to my parents and respected my elders when growing up. I had pretty good manners. I finished high school, then college and finally got a teaching credential. I never did drugs. I got married when I was very young. I gave up my short career and had kids. I stayed home with those kids and made a home. I volunteered, lunched, and kept myself presentable. The kids were clean and educated and happy. The family dog was living the good life.
I also didn’t have nearly as much fun as I should have in college. I didn’t date enough, so that I’d have perspective and experience. I didn’t work long enough or try to balance a career with young motherhood to see if it was something I’d like or could do well. I didn’t listen to myself. And then, I got left by my husband and was divorced. Thanks, world. Super helpful.
I played the game. I did all the things that I was supposed to. I respected rules and laws. I respected my vows. I followed what society suggests as the path to happiness, success and the American way. And you know what that got me? Not a heck of a lot. Do I want my old life back? No. Do I dig my new life? Hell yeah I do. Was it easy? Not on your life.
And along the way I found the people that I could count on. And those people weren’t necessarily the ones that society dictates either. I’ve got a rag tag group of friends that will do anything for me and I for them. These are the people who texted and called when I was down, who dropped off food or even just rolled their eyes in solidarity from across the room. They’re the people who showed up because they wanted too, not because they were required to. And I’m not related to most of them. That doesn’t mean they’re not my family.
So, I think I’ve earned the right to thumb my nose at whomever I’d like, even if that’s the world. World, I’ve played by your rules. And it didn’t work out so fabulous. So now I’m making my own rules, on my own terms. And I’m most worried about my kids and I. I’m worried less about what I should do, or what I’m expected to do. And it’s all falling into place because of that. So, yeah, maybe I’m thumbing my nose. I’m also sticking out a finger. You can guess which one.