I’m sitting here at a major crossroad in my life I never expected to be at left wondering, how did I get here? I feel like I’ve worked so hard to have a decent career, have a good income, provide for my family, and generally not do evil. How is it that I’ve ended up separated for a year, searching for a divorce mediator, and questioning so many aspects of my life?
I think the answer lies in questioning why have I done everything I’ve done up until now? Why did I work so hard to have a decent career? Why was income important to me? Why did I work so hard to be a family man when I’m realizing there are aspects of it I was just not in lockstep with my partner for?
Fundamentally, much of it was the pressures I was feeling from outside of myself. I am the child of an immigrant family. A family uprooted and thrust into a society they knew very little about, refugees from a civil upheaval in their home country. Escaping a situation where one could be killed simply for being well educated, or even just wearing glasses for that matter. I can only imagine that at the forefront of adjusting to a new country with two young children that their main concern was that everyone fit in, didn’t stand out, didn’t make waves.
As such those values of “fitting in” were ingrained in me from the start and all throughout my life. But what is fitting in? When I was split between my life outside of the house, just trying to keep lockstep with my peers as an American and my home life, expected to fulfill familial duties and expectations I was never even exposed to. What is fitting in, when you’re told not to stand out, but in order to succeed in corporate America, you have to stand out from your peers as having something they don’t?
In today’s context, how do I promote and live by an ethos of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice when I come from a background of fitting in and not standing out? I don’t feel it’s a scenario unique to myself, but likely shared with anyone that feels like an “other” to varying degrees. And just as everyone is unique, so too is their approach to handling their situation.
For me, up until this point in my life, I’ve chosen the path of least resistance. I have tried to fit in with what I perceive as social norms. Get good grades, get a decent job, have a wife and kids, buy a house. I’ve done all of those things and I’ve been lucky to have had that opportunity. But again as I sit here going through a divorce, no longer in that house I worked so hard for, not being a part of my children’s lives in the way I always saw myself as being, and I can only blame myself.
I realized that I’ve failed at all of those because I’ve never allowed myself to just be myself. I’ve invested so much into trying to check all the boxes I never asked, are those the boxes I really wanted to check? How do I invest myself in anything when I don’t even know what it is I have to invest?
I have been extremely privileged to have had the opportunities to achieve what I have. I have no regrets that I met, married, and still continue to have an extremely intelligent, diligent, and honest best friend. No regrets that I have two extremely intelligent, happy, and charismatic children. The regret I do have is that I have not been able to give them 100% of myself, 100% of what they deserve.
So, now at this crossroad of a major regret, I’m trying to flip the script. I am no longer concerning myself with what is normal, what is expected, what is fitting in. I’m taking the time to truly figure out what will make me happy and who am I as a person. To take the harder path because I already know that I may be met with resistance and criticism, possibly from some of my own family. But, there are a handful of people that I want to always be a part of my life and to be a part of theirs. The very least I can give them at this point is 100% honesty, and that starts with figuring out and being honest with myself.