(Quotation on an original acrylic painting by Bonnie MacEwan-Zieman, 2009)
As I share information in posts from time to time about my previous life as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, it feels important that the posts not end up as some sort of rant or pity party. I do not feel sorry for myself, nor do I want you to feel sorry for me. I had a good life in many ways as a child and I have a life I treasure now. I do not want to 'whine' as Epictetus says above. I simply want to tell my story. I am choosing to share details about a previously constricted life and how I found the will to brake free, in the hope that it might help others who feel similarly constrained.
I relate to the fact that because of his father's obsession with tennis, Andre never had the education he desired. That was one of the big losses for me too. I was denied the education I craved (and deserved, as does any adolescent). Jehovah's Witnesses do not forbid higher education, but they do strongly discourage it suggesting that "a devoted follower of Christ would surely want to be preaching the kingdom message in these pre-Armageddon times rather than seeking advancement in this wicked system of things". They know that anyone who attends university will open their eyes, expand their minds, sharpen their critical thinking skills and quickly exit the religion.
Just as Agassi made up for past losses by opening his own school for disadvantaged children, I have made up for past losses by being getting the education and degrees I wanted, as an adult. He built a school upon his exit from tennis. I went to school (university) upon my exit from the sect.
Andre Agassi's memoir illustrates another thing I learned to be true: there is tremendous value to be extracted from an imposed, provisional life that you may be required to lead by culture, religion or family. Extract the value, and move on from there. It is possible. It is exciting. It can be extremely rewarding. Andre and I are living proof!
(I realize it could seem presumptuous of me to compare myself to Andre Agassi because of all his accomplishments on the world stage. Forgive my hubris - I just found so many ways I related to his predicament as a young person that I could not resist making the link.)