I have a girl crush. I'm a little in love with Rose Hathaway, the badass heroine of Richelle Mead's YA series, Vampire Academy. Generally, I eschew YA series; I can't really handle all that teenaged angst, once was certainly enough for me. Nor do I like the high drama over absolutely nothing, especially among the girls, although being the mother of two teenaged boys had taught me that high drama among teenagers is not limited by gender. And finally, I really don't appreciate the absence of hot sex scenes in these YA books. I'm all about the chick porn. Having said all of that, however, I also have to say that I have barely been able to tear myself away from these books for the past week. In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm being driven by the kind of compulsion that fuels the magic in Ms. Mead's interesting, original world. But perhaps not. I think this kind of compulsion is just the result of good, old-fashioned compelling writing. I can't turn the pages fast enough to see what happens next. And each book in the series is better than the last. Coolio!
So, back to Rose. She has firmly taken her place in the pantheon of warrior women I aspire to emulate from my beloved paranormal fantasy books. Included in this august group are Mac, Anita, Merry, Jane, Mercy, Cat, Sookie, Elena, Pia, and even some of their more light-hearted sisters, including Betsy, Glory, the other Jane (Jameson), Nix, and her Valkyrie contingent. These women kick ass and take names, as I’ve described before. But the thing I love most about them is their ability to overcome their own compulsions. And Rose might actually take the prize in this arena—her evolution from a girl who consistently gives into her reckless and irresponsible side, with all the hedonistic pleasures it promises—into a woman who consistently does the right and responsible thing has been enlightening and instructive. In this, she is like all of my favorite ladies, but her situation is maybe just a little harder. After all, for her, doing the right thing means killing the man she loves. She definitely wins the competition, I think. What am I talking about, you may wonder again, as you have before. Don't worry, I'll tell you, just as I always do—eventually. When I can find my way back to the point of my ramblings. I'm talking about resisting those overwhelming feelings we all have to do things that feel good in the moment, but that we absolutely know are not good in the long run. Or even in the moment immediately following the immediate moment where the bad behavior seems like such a good idea.You know what I'm talking about: the ice cream at the end of the meal, even though we're trying to lose a few pounds; reading just one more chapter or even just one more page when we know we need to get going to meet another responsibility or just get to sleep so that we won't be zombies in the morning; or skipping the gym in favor of the local watering hole to meet some friends. That's what I'm talking about.
But wait, there's more; diet, sleep and exercise are child's play compared to the more important decisions we make while under the influence of the compulsion of ease and avoidance of pain and discomfort. What about when we know it's time to leave a job, or a spouse, or a friend, or just a bad situation? And we don't. We put it off just a little while longer, kind of like Rose does when she knows she should stake the bad vampire, but she hesitates because she just doesn't want to do that right this minute. She tells herself she'll do it in a few minutes. But for Rose, like for us, procrastination is paralysis. But unlike the rest of us, or, maybe it’s just me, Rose gets over her procrastination PDQ and does what she needs to do—even when she is fighting the physical, emotional and mental withdrawal from some pretty potent magic, which works like the best drugs imaginable, giving her an incredible, almost irresistible high. Almost irresistible. As in, not quite, because resist she does, though God only knows where she found the strength, because I sure don't. I’m just not sure I could be so strong. Could I get up and walk away from something that felt so good, and seemed so real? Surely I’d like to think so, but I doubt myself all the time.
Luckily, we are all given lots of opportunities in our everyday lives to practice this particular form of compulsion resistance. Temptation calls at almost every turn—and we are often in the position to wonder whether we really need to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, or because we’re afraid we might get caught if we don’t. If we are honest with ourselves, would we all be completely upstanding citizens if there were no penalty for transgressing? Would we jaywalk? Snag a candy bar without paying? Cheat on a paper or a test? Kiss our sister’s really cute boyfriend if he wanted? Probably not. Or maybe so. Each of us has to answer for ourselves. As I’ve noted many times before, doing the right thing is hard to do. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
That’s what makes Rose Hathaway such an excellent role model, and why I have a teensy swoon going on for her. I want to be just like her. I want to do the right thing, no matter the cost to my heart or my comfort or anything else. But, I have to say, I don’t think I could kill the man I love even if I were convinced it was the right thing to do. The good news is, I don’t have to make that choice today. But I can be inspired by Rose and her willingness to do the hard thing. Because it always helps when we see someone else succeed in doing things we want to be able to do ourselves. If she can do it, maybe so can I.