The Vanilla Center
By Kelly Conroy
Among my sisters, in particular, I am a square. I’m constantly doing things like “the dishes” and “saving for retirement” and other, incredibly boring tasks. Neatness has never been a struggle for me. I could happily spend a weekend cleaning and reorganizing every closet in the house. But my sisters are something entirely different. Like a fabulous disarray of passion and anguish, their closets explode. Their college plans went off course. Their careers draw them into the depths of their craft, even if it’s unpaid. My sisters erupt in colorful tattoos and unnerving piercings. They binge on shoes and chase shots of whiskey with pints of beer. They’re magnificent and terrifying and somehow made from the same gene pool as me.
I’ve always been the vanilla middle between two explosively flavorful sisters and, for the most part, I’m at peace with that. But sometimes, when I’ve had one too many conversations about financial planning or a certain E-40 song comes on the radio, I yearn for the return of a younger, less responsible Kelly.
I tried to keep up with the party for a solid five years after my college graduation. I tried so hard that I spent my 26th birthday in hysterical, boozy tears. But as weekends passed and hangovers lingered, my idea of a great weekend changed. Maybe it was the 5:00 a.m. boot camp that Russ and I did for a year, maybe it was watching my savings account hit $0 during wedding planning, or maybe it was the boost I felt in my career when I actually started paying attention to it. Whatever the combination of causes, my weekends went from carefree to productive, from happy hour to Home Depot. My weekend joy is now the farmer’s market and early morning pit bull cuddles. Because those things are amazing.
People joke about it all the time. Like all of a sudden, you wake up at 28 and decide you don’t want to go drinking with your friends anymore. But it’s not true. It was a series of decisions, painful mistakes, and constant re-prioritization over time. I literally watched my life shift into a normalcy that I had fought against since I was 14. And it’s still really conflicting
Every other day I feel differently about the adult path I’m walking. Some days, my highest priority is to renovate our kitchen and increase the equity in our real estate. Other days, I want to sell everything and travel the world and write fantastic stories. Or, at least just not have to pay for things like life insurance or an IRA.
Sometimes it makes me feel like a crazy person for wanting two different lives. And sometimes it makes me feel like an L 7 weenie when my safe, boring decisions are squeezed in amongst my beautiful, ferociously alive sisters. But in the end, every choice I have made was for a reason. I may have traded benders for brunch, but I’m pursuing a life that I feel so lucky to live.
I’m grateful for the lessons I learned and the boundaries I pushed – they helped me steer toward the things I wanted in life and push even more boundaries to get it. Because, in the end, it’s up to me to determine my own version of an adult life. And I’m so lucky to have sisters that remind me not to be pressured into a life that I don’t love.
Repost from the Politely Wild Blog