About Me

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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Evaluating what we deserve

This started off as a response to someone's e-mail. As I was writing it, however, I decided that maybe I needed to share this with more than just one person. After all, I am sure many people can relate.

The person who sent me the e-mail, to which I was responding, was not in the best place in life at the time: a lousy job, lots of debt, a failed marriage - the works. What killed me was his statement, that this was all about fate and that was just the place where fate decided he had to be at that particular moment in time. Another thing that struck me was the negative emotions this person expressed talking about family - his family. I don't want to minimize anyone's childhood injuries - they happen, they can be bad and the effects are traumatic and long-lasting. But when someone says, "I wish I'd never had them," when talking about his or her family, it's pretty scary.

I am sure many people out there have experienced or are experiencing similar things. Buy when you start talking about your life, I want you to listen to yourself. Pretend it is someone else telling you about his or her life and ponder the meaning of the words that are coming out of your mouth. What I am about to tell you is not going to be pleasant, and you are more than free not to like it. But if you are telling me that you are a loser and you are broke and that's where you are supposed to be in life, my response is: Hogwash!

There is an awesome Russian proverb that says, "Hope for God but rely on yourself." God / fate / cosmic intelligence (or whatever else you want to call it) is busy - too busy, in fact, to have put you where you are and definitely too busy to get you out of where you are. How you ended up at this particular point in your life is, in fact, irrelevant. You may have been the victim of foul play, or of an unfortunate combination of circumstances or of your own poor judgment. No matter who or what put you there, you need to be the one who gets yourself out.

Nobody deserves spending their days stacking shelves at the grocery store if they hate it (I am willing to admit that there are probably some people out there who like that, but probably not a lot). Nobody is doomed to be forever chained to a desk answering phones and taking every manner of grief from total strangers. So, why would you say that about yourself? Why would you humiliate yourself by saying that the place where you are now is something that's just going to happen because that's the way it's supposed to happen? No way! Do something about it!

You said yourself - you think your job sucks. Find another job. Make a list of all your marketable skills and do it - you'll be surprised how many things you know about and how many things you can do that are a great deal better than what you do now and what you so obviously hate. And please don't tell me I don't know what I'm talking about - because I do. Turning one's career around is not easy, and the only reason I know that it is possible is that I have walked that path myself.

I have worked on the assembly line of an automotive factory. I have waited tables and washed dishes at the college cafeteria. On Christmas day of 1994 I was so broke and so hungry that while I was standing in front of an apple stand at a grocery store (it was Marketplace Wegmans in the Southtown area of Rochester, NY if anyone is interested), I was practically ready to steal an apple (I didn't). I spent Thanksgiving of 1996 picking oil soaks from under conveyors at a diesel engine factory where I was doing my internship. If you ever want to know what hell smells like, smell an oil soak from a manufacturing facility - they are that bad. I have worked in every lousy environment you can imagine in temperatures ranging from freezing to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

But I never, ever thought that was what I deserved - I used the cafeteria job to stop being hungry to a point of wanting to steal food, and I used the diesel engine plant internship to replace the cafeteria job - and so on. When I couldn't find a job as an engineer after moving to Charlotte, NC (Charlotte is a banking city - not an engineering city), it wasn't my fate who made a decision not to be snooty and go work as a temporary administrative assistant to keep from going broke - I made that decision. I was the most overqualified administrative assistant in North Carolina (I mean, how many admins do you know who have a Masters degree in engineering). However, those temp jobs provided me with a launching pad to something better, and then something better yet. Nobody deserves to live a crappy life, unless they are just not willing to do what it takes to change that.

If you don't like your family, if your parents, siblings or other relatives had hurt you to a point where you are no longer capable of loving them - fine. But would you have been alive today, had your parents not made you? Whatever else they may have done, they have given you the gift of life. So, if they no longer inspire you, if the wounds they have inflicted run too deep for you to forgive them, at least use the one good thing - the fact of your existence - to make the best of it.

Your marriage failed - OK, so did my first marriage. It takes two people to make and unmake one. It took two of you to unmake yours, and it took two to unmake mine. But I still believe in marriage. In fact, I gave it another chance and got married again and never regretted it. Just like you, I am nothing like a typical American superstar, who marries and divorces as often as he or she change their outfits. No! I was with my first husband for almost seven years - trying to overcome 13 years in age difference and the fact that he was paraplegic, among other things. It didn't matter - I loved the guy, I entered the marriage in good faith, it didn't work and that realization was very painful indeed, but I had move on. The fact that my first marriage did not work out doesn't make me a bad person and it certainly doesn't mean that I don't deserve to be in a good relationship.

The same thing goes for other aspects of your life - just because there are bits and pieces of it that stink, doesn't mean that (a) it has to be that way and (b) that you don't deserve any better. It all depends on you. Respect yourself and tell yourself that you deserve better and then go do something about it - you can, if you want it badly enough.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Loving that last sentence Maria...to me it's all about taking personal responsibility for your life and absolutely knowing and believing you always deserve the best.