Thursday, May 23, 2013

Where we've been and where we're going

As I'm quickly coming upon the birthday that will bring me into the last year of my 20's, I have a number of things going through my mind. It's so easy to focus on what all we haven't done, how much time has gone by and all the opportunities that we've missed out on or have passed by and can no longer have or do.
Living in the world we do with such a focus on youth and beauty I already feel washed up and like a has-been before I've even turned 30.

Yesterday my best friend tells me that the doctors said she may have something I've only ever heard of in those commercials with wrinkly people with white hair who move slow. Some form of arthritis which I had to google in order to know what it was.

The grey hair started years ago, along with the traces of the years on my face. This is only going to continue. There is no turning back, youth leaves us a little bit more each day. I'll never be that 16 year old that could eat an entire marionberry pie in a day (that's 3,000 calories for the whole pie, by the way) followed by gallons of Mountain Dew and king sized Reese's the next day and still weigh 125lbs. Although, just the thought of all that sugar is actually making me a little nauseous. I've already noticed the impact of a life of 9 hours parked in a chair in an office and 2 hours a day sedentary as I commute. The disheartening thing, is that it only gets more difficult from here. I'm not 16 anymore and when I'm 40, I'll wish it were as simple as it was at 28 (despite how much I'm complaining now).

Today I was reading something my old English teacher wrote. She mentioned something about how she taught high school for the 1st 10 years of her career. I started thinking. When I sat in her class at the age of 15, I had no idea that this woman hadn't been teaching her entire life (when you're 15, everyone over 18 seems like they're 40...turns out she was only in her late 20's!) or that she wouldn't be doing that for the rest of her career. To me, she was a teacher. That's it. That is what she did. Looking back, I see that although she spent 10 years doing that, 10 years is not your entire career. She's expanding her career and doing more than what she was doing at 28. Granted, I'm much further behind than that. I'm not into my career yet, but I am working in my field. Right now it feels like grad school is taking forever and a life time. I'm putting so much on hold in order to be doing this right now. But when I'm in my 40's, will this 5 years really seem like a lifetime or will it feel, as with most things, that it was merely a blink of an eye. I keep getting so bogged down about decisions I've had to make recently and what doors they've closed for me...and maybe for the first 10 years of my career, those doors will have to remain shut. But what is to stop me from figuring out a way to spend the following 10 doing what I set out to do? Or expanding to include some of the things I am hoping I'll get to do someday. There are a lot of politics in my field, that will make it impossible for me to do what I really want right out of graduate school, and maybe I've been looking at this all wrong. I took that as "you'll never work in the area you want because you didn't get your foot in the door in graduate school". All it really means, is I won't get to work in my area of interest for awhile. Maybe for 5 or 10 years. Maybe 15. But who is to say it will never happen? As my former teacher modeled: even if you spend 10 years working in one area of your field, it does not define your career. You can shift, you can expand, you can go in another direction if you so choose and are willing to take the steps necessary. Maybe I need those 10 or 15 years working in different areas in order to be ready for the work I want to do.

Today marks my mother's 1st day of retirement. Talk about a woman who has lived a million life times and isn't even 65. I think that is, in part, what sparked me thinking about all of this. I didn't know my mom when she was 28 (I wasn't born for another 5 years) but I'm sure the plans she had for herself, with 4 children and on her 3rd marriage, were not the same plans she had when she was 40 with 6 children and working full time. Regardless of where her 28 year old self thought she'd be when she reached her 40's, life had its own plan. Now in her 60's, she embarking on a new chapter. All her children are grown, she's no longer tied to a job where she has to be somewhere and on someone's time-clock. She's starting something completely new that she's never done before. Even with all that life behind her, she's got (hopefully) many, many years ahead of herself.

We can spend all our time mourning what we don't have and what we've missed out on, or we can open our eyes and realize all that we have in front of us...right now.

1 comment:

  1. So well said and so true. Most people change courses so many times in their careers. I am now on year nine of phase two. I am sure here in the next few years, the next phase will come in to view. Hang in there, girl. You got this.