So I haven’t blogged here in quite a while. I know it happens, and it really doesn’t matter, but it truly does break my heart when I don’t feel up to spending time here, doing something I really love – writing. And I know I don’t need to explain myself, but actually the thing that has been keeping me from prioritising blogging has been quite a transformative and ongoing experience. So I thought I might share it with you. It’s a long story though, so I’ll split it up into a few posts. Here we go….
Firstly, ever since I was due to return to work from maternity leave almost exactly two years ago now, I have felt that it is time to move on to doing something different job-wise, and I became more and more convinced that where I was just wasn’t right for me anymore. It was repetitive both in the actual tasks and in having to jump the same hurdles and face the same challenges over and over again, and I wasn’t learning anything new. I started actively searching for a new role, writing job applications at night after the kids had gone to bed, and getting interviews here and there. It had been so long since I had gone to a job interview – years – and I felt very rusty and unsure in my ability to answer questions and adequately speak about my experience and sell my attributes.
Just before I returned to work, I had started to ponder, “Is this really what I want to do? Is this really what I want my life to be?” (“this” being both the actual work I was paid to do in my job, and the situation of working 9-5 Mon-Fri) and I came to the grounding realisation that if I stayed in the situation I was in, at the end of my life, I would be filled with regret. I realised that in fact, no matter what job I fell in to, if I stayed working for someone else forever and never attempting to follow my passions or make my own dreams come true, in the end I would feel that I had wasted my life. I still remember exactly where I was standing in my house when I finally understood this. I wasn’t doing anything in particular (probably housework), but the thought stopped me in my tracks. Regret is one of my biggest fears. I knew at that point that I owed it to myself to figure out what it is I really wanted to pursue, deep in my heart, and to try. Even if I didn’t succeed at whatever it was, what mattered was that I try. It mattered for me, it mattered for my husband, it mattered for my children….for all of us, I deserved to be happy.
And so began months of soul searching, asking myself what I love, when I am happiest, what I feel good at, what I would enjoy doing day after day. Should I study? Should I stay in the same field but just move somewhere else? Should I do something completely different? Months turned into a year, which turned into two years…..I had plenty of ideas, probably too many ideas. I wanted to do everything I had thought of. I made lists. I defined pros and cons. I worked out plans for actual steps I could take to see some of those ideas to fruition. And still, I wasn’t sure exactly which path I wanted to venture down.
I won’t bore you here with the exact details of the various options I considered, but I did have changes of mind many times over the course of those two years. I would realise that the option I was currently pondering was too close to what I was already doing, or it wasn’t likely to pay the bills, or it would take a lot of training and when I fully considered it, I decided I wasn’t quite committed enough to the idea to follow through.
So this was the first phase, my quarter-life dilemma. I’ll follow up in my next post with where I went from here.
In the meantime, have you had your own existential/career/life dilemma? How did you deal with it? I’d love to know.