The blank stare


Sometimes you realize that, with no bad intentions on anyone’s part, communication can be difficult in different worlds. I love and adore my family, but the choices we have made in our lives are different, especially so in the last year. This can make communication about certain things a little difficult.

I have been thinking a lot about my “next steps” recently. Mostly this is because I get asked about it all the time. “So, what are you going to do now?” It seems not quite ok to say, “I don’t really know” or “I am thinking about it” or even “I may move to Mexico”. These responses meet with a blank stare. Perhaps it is merely a projection on my part, but trying to divine the meaning in this blank stare leads me to read things like, “Isn’t there some time limit on this little mid-life crisis/ fantasy trip of yours, Stephen?” or “Isn’t it time to put away childish things?”

I’m sorry, guys I’m just not there yet. Something is undone, and I am not quite sure what it is. I am in the midst of figuring out some things about life, and I need more time. And since I am no financial burden on anyone (at least not yet), why not take this opportunity to keep exploring the world? How many people are this lucky? Why throw myself into an upstanding career right now when I honestly don’t know what I want to do? I may be forced by economic circumstance to do just that at some point in the future, but until that time leave me my exploration.

Everyone makes different choices in their lives, and often they need to justify them as the best ones for everyone. I am perfectly comfortable with the notion that each of us takes our own path. I don’t need other people to make the same choices as mine for theirs to be valid. But perhaps it is inevitable for us to project our ideal of happiness onto those we love, especially if we are happy in our own lives.

I would love it if people felt more comfortable engaging with the other (and themselves) in their what-ifs. I am (mostly) genuinely interested in the lives of those around me, and am comfortable engaging in examining their joys and sorrows and asking questions. Perhaps it is difficult for us to put ourselves in the shoes of the other and ask more probing questions or offer more than a simple “ok, whatever”. But it is worthwhile to try.


  1. Mom says:

    It IS just projection on your part. Others in your family have made different choices, and we may be bemused by some of yours, but we all genuinely believe they are your choices to make, and utterly and completely valid for you. Just different from ours.

  2. What if people were interested in “being” rather than “doing” and “having” …! :)