Like any blog post I put here, I’m just throwing out “Random Thoughts” from my own wee brain for people to ponder and either incorporate into their own nest of ideas somewhere or throw away as completely useless drivel. Also, this one got long – but the points seemed important.
A discussion on Twitter the other day about colleges and college degrees and where women stand and social perceptions/prejudices/expectations made me put some of my long-term thinking together with Jamie and Claire.
I am not a ‘pretty’ person. I’m short, overweight and have no overly appealing physical features – except perhaps my eyes. I married my first husband for all the wrong reasons. See, I grew up in the 70’s and was constantly bombarded with the idea that I should ‘make something of myself’, have a career, be ‘more’ than a ‘traditional woman’! Problem was, that is exactly what I wanted to be. I wanted to find a guy to be a partner to and support him in whatever and have kids. Be the PTA mom…the whole bit. Not my families expectations, MINE. I felt that was something important…that family unit (maybe because mine was so f*%^3d up in my youth).
So I went to college and got a degree – not that I’ve used it for any job I’ve ever held – though it was good info for just living. I started out as an Elementary Education major (that WAS my family’s push), spent one semester in a classroom and knew I’d be fired rapidly if I ever got a job teaching. First graders were already working the disciplinary system to their advantage, the teachers had no authority and got very little respect. From 7 year olds! I was raised by two teachers (who retired in the early 1960’s) – nope. So I ended up with a Home Economics degree. I use that information in life – but it did me no good in my jobs.
I married a friend from college as he was the only one interested that wasn’t more of a ‘brother’ to me. Bad idea. I was in that weird place of being strong enough to be on my own but a little afraid of the idea and hey, all my friends were getting married so I was afraid not to. It didn’t last – in fact I knew walking down the aisle it was a mistake and did it anyway.
Second time through was MUCH better and, while we hit a bad patch for a few years, have been together most of 30 years now. (boy he’s going freak when he really takes THAT in). The rough patch? I kept changing myself to be more what I thought he WANTED….he kept tweaking himself to be more what he thought I wanted. We ended up hating ourselves, resenting each other and basically co-habbing without much interaction. We went our separate ways for a few years, and finally got divorced. Then, a year or so later, circumstances sort of threw us together again…we had both changed… a LOT. We started spending more time together and the magic came out again. We are doing great and should continue to do with the lessons learned.
I know, I know gentle reader. You are swearing in your head asking what can this possibly do with Jamie & Claire and how they seem to manage to stay so in love and ‘together’ against such, at times, nasty odds? Also, how can all this possibly relate to a recent conversation on social media?
I think women as a general rule (not all certainly but too many) are so focused on achieving something, they betray themselves to get it. For many this is a partner/spouse, for some a job/career, for others its ??? .
I met my heart mate under less than ideal circumstances. I was married. He was married. His wife bailed and my husband had become a live-in friend with benefits. Kyle and I bumped into each other again (we’d had a brushing acquaintance through business but I barely spoke to him & hadn’t seen him for months) because of my ex and we all became friends. My ex felt bad for Kyle’s current situation (staying with his parents after his wife bailed to another state) and invited him to live with us in our 3 bedroom apartment for a while till he could get sorted. There was a spark between Kyle & I, but we were faithful to our commitments. However, we saw each other as people, not potential mates. Friends that were both in bad situations. We saw the best and worst in each other just as human beings without expectations.
Ok…when Claire sees Jamie he is young, injured, cranky due to pain, and hanging with a group of men that frighten her with good reason. (I mean Murtagh DID knock her unconscious). When Jamie first interacts with Claire she is an obvious outsider – a threat – but also a woman in a very bedraggled state wearing (for the time) what amounted to a slip or nightgown. Not the best first impression on either side.
As time passes, they see each other in good and bad. She is a great healer and he is loyal and chivalrous. They are both stubborn mules with tempers. But they also become friends and somewhat reluctant allies. Claire is never anyone but Claire around Jamie because she can be. Jamie can let his guard down a little because she IS an outsider and won’t judge him the same or hold him to the same lines that his clan will.
I think Jamie had a ‘thing’ for Claire LONG before they were forced into marriage (I have a theory about the ghost that ties into this…I’m waiting) but he also felt due to who / what she was, politics with his uncles, his being an outlaw and a myriad of other factors, she was out of reach. He never tried to court her as such, he was just himself.
Claire was attracted to Jamie (what woman isn’t on some level am I right?) but again, her focus was to get back home to her husband and, while she liked and respected Jamie, she wasn’t trying to do anything to impress or ‘catch’ him. She was just who she was.
Because of this, I think they knew exactly what they were getting into (personality wise – no way Jamie could be prepared for the whole time travel part) up front and so knew what to expect in most circumstances. This is where I think a lot of modern couples do it ‘wrong’.
Some people (not going to lay this all on gals) are constantly glamming up – which the partner appreciates, but unless they have siblings/parents who are the same, really can’t understand just how much time, effort and money that takes and (if this is truly the person’s personality) come to resent somewhat after the courtship phase is over. Also, if all the courtship phase is the glam, what happens when you get to the living stage and don’t glam anymore? The new mate may feel gypped. How can you know if a potential partner likes YOU if all they ever see is the glam?
Also, both sides are so eager to ‘please’ this potential mate, that they remake themselves. I knew one gal from high school that loathed, absolutely loathed, fishing. Her brothers and dad fished constantly and she hated it – the process, the smell, the ick factor. But…she fell for a guy that loved to fish and so, she went. Gushed over it, pretended to enjoy all these outings and it caused real issues a year or so into the marriage when she flat refused to go out anymore with him and wanted him to cut way back on his outings. Had she been honest up front, it likely would have worked out much better for both of them.
If you have hobbies or activities that are important to you – that’s great. KEEP them. Invite the potential partner to participate. But remember, they have things important to them as well. By all means, find something you BOTH love to do together, but having your own pursuits/hobbies/activities is ok too. Balance in all things.
If that potential partner sees you at your worst sometimes – that’s ok. Let him see you after a night of being sick when you look like hell, smell bad, are in your grungiest clothes and not a great mood. Let her see you after you’ve crawled out from under an engine (having forgotten the time and the date you were supposed to be going on) covered in oil, smelling like gas with grit in your hair and a foul mood because the damn engine still won’t start. Reverse those two. (Hey, I will never claim to be a mechanic but I changed out a fuel filter all by myself and acted as a transmission jack for one of our rigs J) In fact, you’ll probably learn a lot about each other at such times. I’ve learned its ok to tell my partner I don’t feel like doing / watching / eating / whatever something just because it’s what he suggested. He does the same with me. He is (was) an avid rock climber, I won’t go near a rock face. I told him that early on. Once we were together, I had no problem letting him climb as long as he had a buddy and proper equipment, but I wouldn’t go watch. I had other things to do that I enjoyed.
Jamie and Claire are definitely a unit, but they are also distinct individuals and accept each other as they are. They don’t try to change each other or force the other into things. Now, with the added issue of being from two completely different times, Jamie sometimes has to assert authority just to keep Claire safe, and Claire sometimes has to school Jamie on a different way of thinking – but they aren’t trying to fundamentally change their partner.
So it all comes down to this for me: social pressure sucks. I am not, never have been, never will be a ‘glam’ girl. I wear makeup on stage, for cameras or very special events where there will be cameras (weddings). I’ll put up with what it does to my skin for a performance, but not for day to day living. I’ve gotten flack for that over the years – though not so much as I’ve gotten older and have better skin than people much younger than me.
Going to college. Tougher. Many jobs require it – which would be fine if they would accept life experience (especially if it directly relates like many have coming out of the military) in lieu of the degree. They often don’t and exclude some of their best candidates. I think this is an attitude that can and should change for employers – but it will take effort.
Some things absolutely require college. (Medical professionals, lawyers, teachers – though I don’t completely agree there). Decide what YOU want, what will make YOU happy and go for it. Trade schools tend to be much less expensive and give practical skills in so many areas. If money is the thing, pick a high end job and train yourself accordingly. If something more creative is what hits your hot button, you may have to accept you won’t ever be rich and plan that accordingly.
Bucking family, friends, societal pressures and your own self-doubt can be hard…but so worth it. I’m not perfect, I still struggle with having faith enough in my writing to really DO something with it, but I keep plugging away (I sometimes think writing is a disease you just can’t shake). Find your own balance.
My wish for anyone reading this is that can walk that road to self-discovery and know that good things are waiting for you. It may not be what you think you want or expect, (never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be living on a sailboat), but good things none the less.