I seem to be in the throes of a quarter life crisis. Or is it mid? Whatever. A mid-30s crisis. For the past three months I’ve felt something bubbling up inside of me, a restlessness and discontentment I know will only be assuaged by a life change. I’ve felt this way before, on the cusp of my 25th birthday. I was finishing the first year of my Ph.D. program, living in Pasadena, and planning to get engaged (I know, I know–seems a little counterintuitive) to my boyfriend of 2 1/2 years. I had a plan and I knew what my life was going to look like for the next 5 to 10 years. Planning my life out like that felt comforting to me. It meant stability and security. It was safe. But the precision with which I mapped out my future was no longer wrapped around me like a security blanket. It was tightening its grip and I was suffocating. I looked into my future and saw someone unrecognizable. There were so many good things about my life and yet I had a feeling that it could be better. Good enough wasn’t good enough for me. So, I quit my doctorate program, ended my relationship, and moved back in with my dad and stepmom (for the summer, while I applied to Master’s programs). I had never felt more liberated–until reality set in and I realized I had absolutely NO plan. Then, of course, I freaked out a bit. But that discontentment and the decision to risk giving up my security set me on the path that led me to Chicago, which led me to my husband, which led me to my two beautiful little girls and a life I always hoped I’d have.
And I learned that life’s best quality is its unpredictability.
The restlessness I’m feeling now isn’t about my life plan necessarily, and it doesn’t have anything to do with my romantic relationship (I’m not planning on eating, praying, or loving anywhere other than Northern IN). I’m not unhappy per se, I just know something needs to change. Things are good enough but, well, you know the rest. I currently work 40 hours a week away from my babies who are growing at breakneck speed. I come home at 5:00pm, throw something together for dinner, clean up and play with the girls for a short while, brace myself for the bedtime routine (hello, exhausting), and finally plop myself on the couch at 8:30pm knowing there are still dishes and laundry to be done. I have been trying to wake up early to write for the past six months. Not once have I done it. I’m literally too tired to chase my dreams.
But 36 is fast approaching and my children are changing during the 8+ hours I’m away from home each day. I need something different. I need more time, more flexibility, more control over my schedule. I’ve been trying to dig deep lately to figure out what it is that I REALLY WANT. From life, in general, and from my career, specifically. I want a more flexible schedule, yes. Time to write. Time to work out. I want to make enough money to support my family and give us extra for travel and cool experiences. I want to be able to take my daughter to see Paw Patrol Live without thinking about all the money I’m paying to watch freakishly large puppies dancing on stage. I want to make home-cooked meals. I want to learn how to make home-cooked meals. I want less stress. More peace. Those are the things that I want. But I still find myself struggling to name THE THING. And then I listened to my new favorite podcast today (DAIS by Rachel Hollis–go listen) and was hit hard with these three questions:
How willing am I to go after the thing I really want?
Can I name the thing I really want?
How much am I willing to put towards it?
I’m still sitting here stuck on that second question — can I name the thing I really want? Honestly, the answer is simple. MORE TIME WITH MY KIDS. Whatever I choose, whichever path I take, it has to give me more time with my kids. Just writing those words brings tears to my eyes. I’m missing too much. Not just because I’m gone during the day but because I come home tired and worn out. I need to find something that both gives me back my schedule and energizes me. Plain and simple.
And about that third question. The one that got my butt in the chair tonight to write this blog post. It’s starting to hit me how crucial it is to put effort into your dreams. We’ve all heard the saying “dreams don’t work unless you do” but have we really taken the time to think about it? Dreams take work. Hard work. Sacrificial work. They mean disciplining myself to write each day. They mean turning off the tv and reading instead. They mean actually getting up early. They mean whatever it is you’ve been putting off because you’re just as exhausted as I am.
Dreams take work. Even when we’re tired. But is it worth it? Hell yes it is.