Monday, August 10, 2009

To the Black Sheeps and the Square Pegs

I have a much younger sister. In fact, she recently just turned 16, I remember her, as a child, getting mad at me about something and shouting, “You’re not my friend!” I guess it was designed to hurt my feelings; but it didn’t. Ever the coach (even before I was a coach), I felt this was a great opportunity to teach a life lesson. I smiled broadly and calmly told her, “No, I’m not your friend. I’m your family. You get to choose your friends. You don’t get to choose your family.”

It’s true. The great thing about friendships is that you can make friends with people who share your interests, laugh at the same jokes and basically people who ‘get you.’ Sometimes your family does and other times … well, they mean well.

I am the creative, strong-willed free-spirit of my family. The black sheep. The square peg that will never ever fit into the round hole (or even want to fit for that matter). If it wasn’t for the fact that I look just like them, I’d wonder, if maybe, I’d been switched at birth. My family likes structure, they like the tangible and sticking with what they know. You get a job and you stay there … with any luck until you retire. You do something that can be easily explained in one word: teach, nurse, sell. Me? Well my one words: coach, writer, bon vivant, are inevitably followed by questions. Most commonly, “So what is it exactly that you do?” And the one that comes immediately after that one, “And, you get paid to do that?”

Over the years, I’ve spent sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters and books trying to explain things like, why I felt the need to move to California to pursue a screenwriting dream, or why I didn’t just want to teach or nurse (I had a job in a nursing home one day in college. It lasted one day; I didn’t even take the paperwork back so I could get paid).

I still don’t think they get it. At this point, I don’t think they ever will. But they accept it. And so do I. Last year, we went on a family reunion cruise. I convinced a bunch of relatives to come with me on a horseback riding tour in Cozumel. To my surprise, a lot of my family took me up on that offer (not so much with the parasailing!).

As we rode, my horse, whenever possible, would veer off the path, taking his own little side trips and diversions. My stepmother laughed, “It looks like you got the right horse!”

The great thing about family is that you don’t get to choose them but you love them and hopefully, learn to accept them just as they are, and they do the same for you. Teaching you little lessons about patience and tolerance and appreciation along the way.

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