If I Could Have
By April McQueen
If I could have been the me I thought I would be, would I have been disappointed in the me that I have become? I could have gained it all: power, prestige, and professional position, but lost everything important: all-giving love, ultimate joy, and everything else, positive and negative, that gives deep meaning and universal purpose to a lifetime of any duration.
The absence of wealth left space for wisdom and discernment. Some things that seemed important, are not. Some things that felt unimportant, are extremely important. The important things became my foundation. My spiritual beliefs and physical choices, for example, are not just important to me, but they are necessary. They made it possible to grow and nurture all the other social, emotional, intellectual, and psychological elements that formed me then and make up who I am now and moving forward.
Nevertheless, in my life as a convert to the faith, I am sometimes filled with chronic imposter syndrome. Rooted in my choices, however, is strength. I can skillfully balance internal chaos with a surface appearance of external order. This façade can leave me feeling exhausted and overwhelmed after pretending to know about something I am expected to know or to be someone that I am not. It only serves to stress all that I do not understand and still need to learn about my chosen faith. Thank goodness for a lifetime to practice and the gift of grace while I try.
Despite the ups and downs of my life, I am glad that I did not make other choices, even if I could have. I am happy with my experiences as female, as middle-aged, as Black, as American, and as Catholic: unique no matter what labels people attach to me. Their effort to understand these adjectives first, often comes with an inability to distinguish the me that is beyond such artificial categories as these, keeping me as other and outsider, with me trying and failing to belong.