Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Figuring Out What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

It's funny that I am still trying to figure this out.  And I can't really say if that's in a funny "haha!" or a funny sad & pathetic kind of way.

Lately (maybe the past 6ish months?) my life has felt chaotic.  Unsettled.  Uncertain.  There was no place I could go and just feel safe and at peace.  And by and large, that is still how I am feeling today.

I'm thirty-five years old.  Thirty-freaking-five.  I cringe and feel sick to my stomach just typing that, never mind saying it aloud.  No, I don't think that's over-the-hill OLD.  But I don't feel that age.  I guess in my mind I am still 25, give or take.

Still allowed to make some foolish mistakes.

Still able to burn the candle at both ends without too much physical/emotional/mental toll.

Still permitted to worry only about the here and now without giving too much thought to the far off future, let alone next week or next month.

Still able to muddle through without too much worry, because there is plenty of time ahead of me.

I still feel like so many pieces are up in the air for me right now.  Lately I have felt so much anguish and frustration at work.  While I didn't exactly know WHAT I was going to be when I graduated (from both undergraduate AND graduate school), I could not have imagined the jobs I would eventually hold in my career path (or maybe it is more accurate to say my career stumble?  Path implies there is some sort of structured or charted course.)  While I know not everyone gets to feel happy or fulfilled (hell, I'd settle for just CONTENT) in their jobs, it shouldn't feel like this.  

I know I am not alone in this feeling.  But unlike some of my other friends....no one else is counting on my paycheck but me.  Yes I feel the constraints of my financial responsibilities - paying my rent and bills on time, trying to chip away at student loans before I am a senior citizen.  But there is no 30-yr mortgage to be paid or housing repairs to be done.  There are no children to be fed and clothed and cared for.  For so many others I know who have felt these same feeling I have about work, there is some comfort to be taken in knowing that part of your daily struggle/sacrifice/strife at work is at least not in vain because you are caring for others.  Someone else is counting on you.  

But it's just me.  

Is there still even time to not only figure out WHAT I want to be, but to go and BECOME it?  Some days I feel bold and hopeful that yes, there is time.  Most days I feel discouraged (either by myself or others) that that window may have closed and I just need to make peace with it, and do the best I can with what I am doing right now.  Yes, I know most days my current work is more "for now" than it is "forever."  Hell, I have real inklings that I may not even have this job in 6-8 weeks, and not by my own choosing.

I wake up in the morning and some days as I finish getting ready and am heading out the door, I feel that pit in my stomach.  And at the end of the day I feel like there is a small sliver of time where I am able to put it all out of my mind before thoughts of the next day creep into my head and weigh heavy on my mind.  

My biggest trouble lately is dealing with so many feelings of regret.  Missteps I (may) have taken in my personal and professional lives that have brought/led me to where I am now.  Too often I catch myself falling into a daze, paddling down the river of "What if?"  
pic credit

I keep hoping for and looking for signs.  That what I am feeling is normal.  That what I am feeling will pass.  That someday - maybe in the not-to-distant future - things will become clearer to me.  That I will understand the wheres and the whats and the whys.  That I will feel more hopeful and not so hopeless.  

Until then, I just feel a bit like a weird, not-quite-right-yet version of myself.  


  1. I could have written this exact same post. I know exactly how you feel. You're singing my song, sister. 35, single, not where I want to be, not where what I want to be, and no idea how to get from point A to Z.


  2. I'm 33, but I feel the same exact way. The only comforting thing is that sometimes I hear from senior citizens that they still don't know what they want to be when they grow up. But it still doesn't comfort for long. *sigh*

  3. I went through a bit of this over the summer--so miserable with my job, didn't know what to do with my life, and my personal relationships were in a total shambles. I managed to get out of it, but I still (ultimately) don't know what I want to do with my life...just want you to know that what you're feeling is totally normal!

  4. I'm 35 as well. I'm single with no kids. I'm not dating any one nor do I want to be. I fell into my current career but I'm definitely not cut out for my profession. I'm not in a place where I can go back to school full time (and the horror stories of student loan repayments are enough to keep me from applying for financial aid - plus I'm still paying off debt from my first go around 13 years ago) but can't afford to 'start over' in a new career either. And with the economy the way it is, that's not very likely. It's very frustrating to feel so lost right now. My friends are all either married, having kids or excelling at their careers (or all three). Me...I'm still just chugging along like my 25 year old self. So you're not alone. I guess there's comfort in that, right?

  5. Oh goodness, I know exactly how you feel and I'll be 35 in a few months. I have the opportunity(in theory) to start over in a new career since I'm unemployed but even that isn't easy. After 10 years of working in a very specific aspect of higher ed, I find myself pigeon holed by potential employers. Like Kittie above, I don't really want to go back to school for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the cost. I find myself second guessing so many of my choices (career, geographic location, dating) along the way and it's frustrating. I suppose there is some comfort in knowing you're not alone in feeling this way, but that doesn't necessarily make it any easier.