What Do I Want to Do When I Grow Up?

Such a great message at service this morning; a couple of themes or comments stood out that helped me pull together a few topics I’ve had drafted for a while, but just couldn’t get to gel. This first was helped along by the children’s service, and a question that was put to them, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Please feel free to comment below! I’d love to hear about challenges you may have had with trying something new, or returning to something once loved yet discarded.

 

Ever have one of those moments, periods, where you just don’t have a clue what you’re thinking? Trying to get the words out is a struggle…you don’t feel as if there is any good reason to be “conflicted”, yet that’s exactly what you are. I’m reaching a stage in my career where I am no longer certain it is 100% satisfying. Don’t get me wrong; I love working with my students at this school in particular. I can’t see myself teaching anywhere else, and I absolutely love teaching the subjects I do: the combination of science, math, design…it suits me completely to encourage the students to take risks, make mistakes, and grow their understanding. But does it “complete me” the way I believed it once did? I don’t think it does. There seems to be this nagging impression that I need to create and share that need to create, especially with my students. Why now? Why am I only just starting to feel drawn toward the more creative side of myself: to encourage, explore, and grow my own artistic side?

I think about what makes me smile at the moment (apart from seeing “Bruce” at the end of a long day). Friends, family…they all put a smile on my face. Even more than that though is the satisfaction I get from creating something, whether it is a blog post, short story, new candle scent, or a great dish for dinner. I find myself more frequently running my hands over old pieces of furniture, neglected and battered, and imagining how they could come to life; I used to do this all the time, reviving and repurposing cast-off pieces. In the past, whenever I’ve become frustrated with where I am in life or the moment, I have taken a step back and closed myself in with my thoughts or my creations. Now though, I have a very special someone in my life who is interested in this side of me, who listens to my quirky ramblings that I’m certain make no sense at all at times, and who pushes me to explore these urges. Not to say that my ex was not supportive, but it was different; we were in a different place in our lives.

I think I look at these interests in a different light now; no longer do I think in terms of an amusing little hobby, but rather as veering off the original career path. It’s scary if I’m honest, but I can’t shake the feeling that I am meant to do this. How does one go about this though? Let’s face it, I’m no spring chicken; I have grown up expenses and responsibilities…or do I? My children are, for all intents and purposes, grown. I have no real debts beyond rent, utilities, and medical expenses (ah, the joys of aging). But my savings were depleted in the divorce, and my retirement fund took a hit. How much does it take to make me feel secure financially? What do I need in order to not just survive, but thrive? I think this is where I’m stuck, where fear takes over and prevents me from just diving in, taking the massive risk, throwing caution to the wind, and doing it. For the majority of my adult life, I chased dollars and status; I equated a fat bank account with security and happiness. It wasn’t until I lost essentially everything that I questioned that thinking. What does it take now to make me happy, to feel content, to experience the satisfaction of a job well done, to smile?

 

I don’t have all the answers; I don’t know how this will ultimately end. But I do know that if I limit myself to only thinking about how to do this, I will remain right where I am, wishing I could do something differently. I’ll check back in about this as I make decisions (or have them made for me), but I promise to share the steps along the way. I know I’m not the only person who struggles with these emotions, or wishes his or her life was going a different direction. I may not be completely confident in what will happen or how this will turn out, but I am confident enough in myself to share these insecurities and my attempts to start a new life. If reading these struggles gets someone else thinking about their life and level of satisfaction with it, then I will be satisfied that the struggle to talk about it, was worth it.

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Sticking Around

Things that “stick around”…good friends for an extra cup of coffee or a beer, fans after an autograph, the smell of cabbage cooking…dog farts….  “Sticking around” implies there’s something else the “sticker” could be doing, but chooses otherwise.  Perhaps, they just enjoy what they’re doing, and are loathe to change the activity.  Maybe, the sticker is just a touch on the lazy side and can’t be bothered to do something different that would require effort to change direction.  Now, cabbage and dog farts don’t exactly have a choice in whether to stick around or not, but to a certain extent, their pungence causes them to hang about…a mixture of chemistry and olfactory memories combining to keep them around longer than either necessary or desired.  A good squirt of air freshener or a strong fan will generally help them along their way however. Usually.  Unless it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and I’ve got the crock pot filled to the brim with corned beef and cabbage….or if one of the boys has fed the pug beans.  That’s bad news there. 

But what about people in your life who stick around…in spite of something weird, negative or scary… Have you ever questioned their motivation? You throw work drama at them.  They pour a couple cups of coffee, pull up a chair, and say, “Tell me more.”  You decide to sulk over an unsolicited text they get…they didn’t invite or ask for it, but you decide to act like an ass about it…just because.  They just hug you, and show you that there is no conversation to this text, and that it is all one-sided.  You know they’re right; you just had a moment of acting self-centered and about 5 years old.  They still keep hugging, texting and calling you though, even though the tantrum probably deserved a dose of the silent treatment.  Some folks, and let’s be honest, we’re talking about partners/boyfriends/girlfriends/spouses and even family members here, would walk pretty quickly away from these little life dramas.  Face it, in the grand scheme of things, these really are petty issues, and typically don’t deserve a huge amount of energy to get through.  

Then life throws you a curve ball.  A big ol’ smack upside the head, reality check, heart stopping, make you want to barf continually moment.  You can’t catch your breath as you try to process what is happening.  Then an even darker feeling creeps into the edges of your reality…you’re in a pretty new relationship…how do you share this with your partner and not expect them to pack up the U-Haul?  Now let’s think about this rationally for a moment…would it really be fair to share this life-moment with a new partner?  You’re barely out of the burping in front of each other stage, although you’ve shared a great deal of your history, but seriously?  You expect them to be there for this?  “THIS” is heavy stuff…it can make or break marriages, so it really might be more kind to just quietly break this off with them now, and spare them the process.  True, they might be confused and hurt at the rejection, but then you wouldn’t feel the guilt of the alternative….

…the alternative, is to tell them, and then hold your breath, waiting for them to leave.  But they don’t.  You start to wonder, if they are sticking around only not to seem heartless: that once the event is past, they will be the ones to quietly bow out before anything else can crop up.  You wouldn’t blame them, although you would be hurt, but who wants to wade willingly into a crisis, make it through, then hang around to see if something else happens again.  That might even be the definition of a sadist come to think of it…..

Or….your partner, after you tell them, sits silently for a moment, then tells you (forgive the changing voice…) “WE will get the facts, then WE will get the plan, then WE will follow through with it.  WE will get through it.”

It then becomes clear to you that it is the truly extraordinary hearts that are capable of such “Stick to it-iveness”.  The only guilt that you should be feeling is in ever doubting that they would be there in the first place.  You know that you too, would be there for them were the tables turned, and that is what makes the relationship have longevity potential.  Something else may come along in time to send you each down separate roads, but for right now, this…this challenge will only cause you to stick even closer together.