When I was in college I felt like the world was my oyster. I had my whole life planned. I’d graduate, move to the big city to start my (successful) career. Then, in a few years I’d get married, and five years after that I’d have children and start a family. I knew exactly what I wanted out of life, and I had my whole future planned. And, as far as I could tell, there wasn’t any reason it wouldn’t turn out exactly as I wanted.
Fast forward (all too many) years later and things have not gone like I thought they would. My life looks a whole lot different than what that young 22-year-old had planned. If my 39-year-old self were to run into that optimistic 22-year-old and tell her what her life looks like 17 years down the road, I think she’d run screaming for the hills.
Life never turns out how we think it will…
This past year and a half has been a real struggle for me. I’ve been seriously questioning my life choices and wondering where my life is going. I look back at where I’ve been, the direction I wanted my life to head, where I’m at now, and wonder where life is taking me.
I’ve spent more days and nights than I’d like to admit sobbing. Sobbing because I’ve felt lost and hopeless. Sobbing because I felt like I had no direction in my life. Sobbing because I’m just not happy where I’m at. My only points of sanity have been my husband and my best friend, who have given me a shoulder to cry on and encouraged me when I needed it.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband and children and wouldn’t change my life with them for anything. Given the option, I’d do all of that with them all over again. My family life is not the problem. It’s everything else.
When Life Throws You A Curveball…
After I graduated college I worked in my chosen career field for a while. Well, kind of. See, my chosen career path was of the artistic sort. Translation: I made no money doing it. So I’ve had to have a “real” job to support my passion. After a while, things started to shift. I found myself not doing as much of my career of choice and having to do more of my “real” job to help pay the bills. Curveball number one.
I found joy in working a couple of nights a week teaching children’s classes in my artistic field. Despite the fact that I had a day time job that was “just okay,” I felt fulfilled because I could still pursue my passion in the evenings.
But then we moved out of state. Enter curveball number two. Now, please know, I was happy to move to SC. I was sad to leave friends and all I knew, but also excited for new opportunities and much (MUCH) nicer weather.
I was able to work from home part-time for quite a while, and I absolutely loved that. While I wasn’t able to work in my artistic field as much as I wanted, I did find a couple of creative outlets that allowed me to explore my passion.
But about a year and a half ago, things changed yet again. Curveball number three and my breaking point.
My husband and I realized we could no longer afford to live on the salaries we were making. Money had been way too tight for far too long. We were living paycheck to paycheck with hardly any savings, some credit card debt, and there wasn’t an end in sight. The only solution was for me to go back to work full-time. It was something I had been dreading and it was now becoming my reality.
And so began my mid-life crisis.
I remember when I was younger thinking that someone having a mid-life crisis meant they went out and bought a crazy expensive car or decided to go skydiving. I also thought it meant they’d just do out of the ordinary things like dye their hair a bold new color or start dressing “younger.” After all, that’s what was depicted on television and movies in the 90s. If you were having a mid-life crisis, you went out and did something wild and crazy for someone your age.
Little did I know that having a mid-life crisis actually has less to do with feeling old than it does with feeling lost and hopeless, and like you have no direction in your life.
And that’s where I’ve been living this past year and a half; feeling absolutely miserable and lost.
As I began to look for a full-time job I had no idea what type of job I wanted. There was an opportunity at the company I was currently working for but I thought I’d be miserable there full-time. So I began to look elsewhere. I had some job interviews and even a job offer, but nothing felt right. I found myself wishing more and more I could work in my artistic field full-time but just didn’t see any opportunity.
And so I fell into a sort of depression and let my anxiety get the better of me as well. I remember telling my husband one day that I felt like a 39-year-old woman who didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up. I felt so empty and miserable. It felt as if I was doomed to be stuck in a job I hated the rest of my life, and not ever fully able to pursue my career field of choice. You know, that thing I actually have a degree in.
I eventually did take that job through the company I was already working for. Honestly, it was just the easiest and made the most sense. But I was right. I was feeling miserable and not enjoying it. And so I’ve had many days of crying at my desk at work as I text my best friend about how unhappy I am, and how miserable I feel. I’ve spent far too many nights crying into my pillow at bedtime feeling lost and directionless.
After years of fighting him on it, my husband finally convinced me to pursue a teaching certificate in my field of study. I hadn’t wanted to because while I enjoyed teaching evening classes to children previously, that was all without the added responsibilities a full-time teacher has. I didn’t have to worry about grading and tests and teaching a specific curriculum in order to meet state standards. There weren’t any before school and after school duties like carpool line. No long meetings and training to sit through. I could just teach and really enjoy my time with my students.
However, after much consideration, I’ve come to realize that all that “extra stuff” I’ve been afraid of might actually be worth it in the end. If it means I get to work in my chosen field of study, the area I have my degree in, it may just make me happy. It’s definitely not how that 22-year-old envisioned her life, but it’s worth pursuing.
So I’ve entered the SC PACE program and am on my way to, what I hope, is the end of this mid-life crisis. Only time will tell, but I am hoping there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. A mid-life crisis can only last so long, right?