Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An Interesting Read: "The 31 Slump"

I read an interesting op ed piece today at the website XOJane. The author chronicles her career-life from her early 20s to early 30s. As I read through the piece, I thought "Wow! It's like she was reading my mind! I didn't know other women my age felt like this!"

You can read the entire article here.

Essentially, I felt comforted that other women in my age bracket were wrestling with the same questions that keep me up at night.

What do I really want to do with my life?

How are others perceiving me in my current career choice?

What would happen if.... I changed careers? I didn't use my degree? I stayed at home? I earned more than my spouse? I went off the beaten path? I had kids? I didn't have kids?

I've had a few moments of brutal clarity and honesty with myself the past few months. After a traumatizing ordeal with my first job in social work in California, I've been able to lick my proverbial wounds through counseling and an "easy" job. The odd thing is that I'm mostly satisfied and content with my work and volunteer efforts and finally breathing again. Mostly. There is still a part of me that I'm still trying to steal myself to face:

Am I truly content where I am? Or am I still terrified of being judged by others and thereby motivated to change courses yet again to fit "their" perfect mold of a working 30 year old female with an education?

Am I terrified for history to repeat itself and to be so quickly verbally thrashed, shamed, judged, and demoralized by another superior?

Am I terrified of what others' are saying about me "back home?"

Am I terrified of what I may or may not regret in 30 years?

I'm not sure what the future holds. I do know that when I chose my career path at 25 years old, I had NO IDEA that I would be where I am today - living in a small, essentially rural middle-of-nowhere California town where nepotism is the ONLY way of life. It's crazy and unnatural to think that the choices I made in my early 20s from a severe depression and boredom should determine my next 60 years. Yes, I like helping people. I am kind, compassionate, and smart. But does that mean I'm locked in to one particular method of helping people for the rest of my life?

I'm in my 30 Year Slump, to borrow from the author's words. I'm open to the idea that this "slump" will become a milestone in shaping me for the next 5, 10, or 20 years. I'm open to change. I'm open to being brave. I'm open to releasing my fears of others' perception and opinion of me.

Now I just have to be open to taking that first step out of the slump.
Maybe next year.

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