Out of Control —by Jamie Levine
I’ve always been a planner. And a control freak. I want to know how things are going to happen and when they’re going to happen; and then I want to make them happen. So when I recently met up with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen since the spring and responded to some questions she had for me, my answers almost surprised me.
“Are you working?” she asked. “Yes!” I responded, “I just started, after taking the summer off after graduation.” I then explained that I was working for an agency as a speech-language pathology clinical fellow, providing early intervention services for children under the age of three in their homes. And while I’m very happy with my placement, and early intervention may even someday become my passion, I never intended to wind up here. Before, during, and post-graduate school, I did always plan to work with children—but never with kids this young—and never outside of a school setting. But clearly, my plans didn’t work out…and so far, that’s been a good thing: The company I’m working for seems fabulous, my supervisor is great, and being able to affect change in children this young will really make a difference in their lives. On the other hand, my externship experience working at a public school didn’t feel as rewarding to me, and to be honest, I didn’t enjoy it at all. So perhaps an unplanned career choice is the best one for me.
Another major topic of discussion with my friend was dating. “Are you still juggling a bunch of guys?” she asked. “And you’re not still seeing ‘gym guy,’ are you?”
“Um, well, I’m actually not juggling at all,” I responded. “And I am still seeing ‘gym guy.’”
“Wait! ‘Gym guy’ is your boyfriend now?” she correctly deduced.
“Um, well, yeah…I guess he is my boyfriend,” I admitted. Though this label still feels quite odd rolling off my tongue.
Back in January, I met “gym guy” when I was casually dating a few other men. On our first date it was quite apparent that we had great chemistry together and wanted to see more of each other. However, “gym guy” was a self-professed commitment-phobe, who made it clear that he only wanted to see me once a week, and that I should keep dating others. I decided I’d date him “just for fun” until I met someone with whom I wanted to get serious. I never took him seriously, nor thought he really cared deeply about me. I simply enjoyed his company and had fun with him, and figured he felt the same way about me. However, once again, my best laid plans went awry, and by the summer we both admitted we were crazy about each other—as well as scared to death. But I wasn’t scared enough to let him go. Thus, I’m no longer dating anyone else—nor is he—and while I don’t throw the word “boyfriend” around so easily, I guess the man I’m in contact with morning, noon, and night; who wishes me luck before every unnerving endeavor I experience; who comforts me when I’m sad; always knows how to make me laugh; and whose kisses still give me butterflies deserves to be called my “boyfriend.”
Come to think of it, something else I never planned has also turned out fabulously well—single motherhood. Well, I did plan it meticulously—from my choice of reproductive endocrinologist to the sperm donor I selected to the values by which I raise my daughter—but the fact that I actually became a single mother wasn’t my Plan A. I always planned to meet Mr. Wonderful and get married and have a baby. But when that didn’t happen, I became a single mother by choice—and it was the best non-plan I ever had. And if that’s not proof positive that sometimes you need to just lose control and follow your heart, or go where the unplanned options take you, then I don’t know what is.