Destiny isn’t a matter of chance it’s a matter of choice. It’s not a thing to be waited for; it’s a thing to be achieved.
I received an email about Greek Tragedy from sleeptodream posing the following question:
“There is this theory that the protagonist of the story possesses some sort of tragic flaw which contributes to his/her downfall. The theory explains that the character must not be entirely all good or all evil, but must be someone the audience could identify with. So I wonder, what could be your tragic flaw? “
The quote above isn’t mine; it’s William Jennings Brian’s, and it appeared in a serif font, beneath my senior year high school yearbook photo. Growing up I fed on a diet of achievement, feasted on honors, devoured papers down to their narrow margins, basted myself on progressive ideas, stuffed in theorems until I needed to lie down and do some unbuttoning. I will get whatever I want if I work at it hard enough.
Hard enough doesn’t work. It turns out just to be hard.
I’m that girl, the one who worked on the assignment the day it was given, even if it wasn’t due for another month. The one who as an infant cried in my crib, drenched with sweat, until my parents caved and put me on a mattress. Determined to get my way, I had a plan; and it’s in a warehouse box today. In the warehouse, in a box, in my old high school diary, you’ll find a one page forecast of my life.
A good college.
Get married by 26.
Wait two years to have a baby by 28.
Dear reader, I’m 28, and I never went to grad school. The list might have ended there: baby by 28. Cause in high school that’s all I wanted for myself: to be in love and to have a family. I didn’t bother to scribble down a career that day. Though in an interview with my teenage self, I would learn that she wanted to go to law school to become a trial lawyer specializing in defending abused children. And if she had an interview with her grammar school girl counterpart, she would have learned she wanted to be a writer… um, or Annie.
Ambition knocked me on my ass. My peripheral vision was for shite, too many blind spots. All I really knew was that I wanted to be married. I wanted to have a family. And I didn’t care if he didn’t… let me repeat, I didn’t care if he didn’t. I don’t know if it gets more fcuked up than that. It was my plan, see, long before he ever came along, and I was working hard on it. I was patient, not flippant. We were together for three years before marrying. So we’re getting married now, and if you don’t want to, I’ll find someone else to marry, you idiot. And so, we got married. And after two years of paying marriage dues of sunny yellow weekends alone, abandoned dinners due to his pager, and weekly promises of I’ll-make-it-up-to-you’s, I was finished compromising. And we made a baby. And then the glass ceiling broke on my head.
I know it sounds like that play-it-safe whimpass spin when a potential boss asks you to tell him what your weakness is, and you chirp some song about being a perfectionist. Blah blah. But my being ambitious (to a fault) is my “tragic flaw.” The days of beating myself up over it, though, are behind this female protagonist. See, I’ve learned from that mistake, and it will always be my inner ear, but I’ve learned to keep the voices in check. Cause when you don’t—well, that’s called crazy.