Although I don’t recall, I suspect that as a baby, demand was all on my side. I likely had no interest in supplying much of anything. It was all about me; and if anyone forgot, I was quick to loudly remind them. Fortunately for me, the people in my world agreed that catering to my needs and whims was an appropriate priority for them too.
Alas, it was not to last. The day did arrive when the supply-demand balance shifted. It was subtle and mostly went undetected at first. My needs and interests were no longer an immediate priority, what I wanted was not necessarily at the top of anyone’s to do list. I would just have to wait, be satisfied with what I already had, deal with not always being the center of the universe. Maybe, just maybe, it was not all about me any more.
It got worse. Not only was my every whim or need being prioritized along with the whims and needs of other people, I was required to moderate my behavior to conform to some set of rules and expectations that I neither fully understood nor appreciated; and if that were not frustrating enough, the same people who used to instantly drop whatever they were doing to cater to me were expecting me to do things like pick things up and put them away, stop playing and do what they wanted me to do, or ridiculous things like go to bed when I was not sleepy or take my own bath – and hurry please.
This nonsense of me having to do what others told me to do, go where they told me to go, and conform to their rules and expectations continued for years. Of course going to school was the most obvious example of what was in reality a rather abrupt transition to others demanding and me supplying, but there were numerous lesser examples. Yes, I did occasionally act as if I were on the demand side; but if I got too assertive about that demanding stuff, others were quick to let me know that I could request but demanding was definitely not acceptable.
The carrot in all of this was “Growing Up.” “When you grow up, you can do what you want to do, behave however you want to behave, and make your own choices and decisions.”
They were joking of course. That turned out to be as wrong as Santa Clause bringing toys or the Tooth Fairy leaving money under my pillow. I did grow up, mostly conforming to expectations and following the rules, and was fully prepared to shift to being who I wanted to be, doing what I wanted to do, ready to get out from under the demands, rules, and expectations of others. Silly me. Instead of being satisfied with just growing up, I was now expected to be a responsible adult. I kid you not. And the key term here is “responsible.”
That brings me to the crux of it. Pretty much without notice or fanfare, the new deal was that I was responsible for stuff. There was work to do, bills to pay, people to please, and an increasing array of demands and expectations. Sure, I could have chosen to be a slacker, less responsible, or maybe even irresponsible, but I really am just kidding this time. Being a responsible adult had been in my future forever; and becoming otherwise was not even a possibility, and certainly not an option. That aspect of the outcome for me was never open for debate or discussion.
Now for the real shocker. This living on the supply side, being a responsible adult, when along more or less smoothly, not for just years but for decades. I actually got really good at the supply side. In fact, people came to depend on me to keep up my end of it, to continue as a supply side person, being responsible for myself as well as for the well being and welfare of others to varying extents. I had things to do, places to go and people to see; and others counted on me. It just worked.
Suddenly it seemed, reality shifted. I will skip the details, but My supply side role, my supply side responsibilities just stopped. I do not have things to do, places to go, or people to see any more. Of course, there are things I could do, places I could go, and people I could see, but none are my responsibility. There is no expectation and no down side for others if I do not do, go, or see. As a responsible adult, I made sure I would be able to support myself when I no longer had any responsibilities for the well being or welfare of others, but did not think to or know how to assure that my responsibilities would extend past my retirement.
It does seem a bit unfair. I spent all those years developing my capacity to do in the service of myself and others, but now I am the only one who benefits from all that capacity and I do not need it. The supply is still there but the demand has dwindled. I guess it calls for a career change, but I do not know yet just what my new career will be. The good news is that I am working on figuring that out for me.