you can do so much more

I have a need to feel superior probably because in my feminist ways, I think I deserve to stick it to The Man to whom everyone answers and from whom everyone takes orders. This superiority is something that gets in the way, but I would never give it up, instead maybe tame it. Tame it down to being a little bit accepting of those men who truly mean well. Tame it so there’s at least a first chance with men, instead of rolling my eyes and coming up with some indescribable reason for his flaws being society’s fault. Flaws I don’t dare accept in myself. The only time I like to feel inferior is when I’m standing underneath the Empire State Building among miniscule Manhattanites such as myself — a place I can measure to the world’s size. I only like to feel ignored and worthless among the mosh pit of people knocking my bag and pushing past me with a purpose, with urgency to get to their next meeting on time. I can appreciate that urgency of life. That urgency is important; their superiority is what makes them successful.

I think it comes back to the big fish-little fish scenario. I like to think I am meant to be a big fish in a little pond versus my known preference of being a big fish in a big pond. (Manhattan is an ocean, really.) The problem is that there’s possibly two or three instances where that big fish-big pond occurs, i.e. Donald Trump. I not-so-much want to be Donald Trump, although his son is pretty tempting… but I digress, for now.

My sassiness screams of that Brooklyn woman I met at a TJ Max, fighting for the bag I had my eye on. My organized-to-the-point-of-insanity stems from the grid that lays out the island in which so many get lost. My sense of success comes from my fortitude inherited from my grandfather who made himself from nothing to traveling around the world to still trying to find the next big thing even at 85. He still won’t admit he’s slowing down. My mother yearns for him to let go of the reins that stress him out with a huge corporation he supports “just for fun”, but I get it. I won’t slow down and I can’t help but think I still want so much more than what life has dealt me. I have this false sense of unsuccessfulness in the midst my age-appropriate success; I’ve graduated with two degrees and a professional certificate, have been published, lived two plane connections away from home, and have met so many of society’s prerequisites. Yet it still isn’t enough for my own personal standards. Yes, please take a minute to call me high maintenance. You’re preaching to the choir, reader.

I have this hot pink Post-It note stuck to my white wall above my full-length mirror that reads, “You can do so much more!” It’s my motivation to look myself in the face and no matter my stresses or my daily failures, no matter the lines on my resume that provide proof that I am my own success story, I can do so much more. Life doesn’t stop once one has decided they’ve made it — or it shouldn’t anyway. This feeling is something that comes often at times of transition in my life where I step back, mentally freak out, then make a huge move. Last time it was me moving to New York City without a steady paying job and with no place to stay besides my former high school classmate’s futon in Brooklyn. All my logic flew out the window, and my dreams took over. This is Jennifer Dryden at my best though. These decisions lead me to the greatest and most challenging year of my life in which I let myself feel the most inferior — tall skyscrapers, expensive groceries, no car, no family, no backup plan, nothing, just my free-spirited heart and sass. This was the first time I was okay with feeling inferior, but it came with a sense of power. And I can’t help feeling like I need that grounding, inspiring experience again.

My confident views help me through the day-to-day decisions and interactions with people I meet. I’m 25 and have done so much according to my close friends and peers; I should just stop and settle in to the prescribed life society and God have intended. I just can’t shake the feeling of wanting more. Maybe it’s not even as simple as wanting more, it’s probably needing more. It’s simply answering that intimidating, overarching question: what is it going to take to make me stay in one place, go with one career, and let my guard down to feel happy in a crowd of superiors acting like inferiors? What is it going to take for me to feel like I’m right where I need to be? What is it going to take to tame my personal sense of superiority and tell my overdramatic brain to take a hike? It will probably be the person who walks into my life, calls me out, proves me wrong, and asks me to stay put for us because it’s the right decision. Where is that right decision?

The right decision’s hard to find among all the opportunities, destinations, and dreams the world offers someone in a single short life.


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