I remember a Facebook post by a friend of mine that said something along the lines of one of the best things about turning thirty is that you’ve gone through the turbulent years of your twenties and that in your thirties you will know who you are and what you are about. You’ll get your life sorted out.
I replied that the best thing about turning forty is that you realize you have very little sorted out. You still aren’t too sure about who you are and what you are about and that you probably never will be, but that this is actually okay.
For me this is true. As I mentioned in my last post, the past ten years (my thirties) have been very different from what I expected. While I thought I would probably meet my life partner and this happened, there were also many unexpected twists. Not having children when I thought I was destined to be a Mum was one of the biggest. I’ve also lost not just one but three jobs (two through organizational downsizing and one through quitting because I couldn’t stand the bullying anymore), been diagnosed with a few major health conditions, and, of course, lost my darling cat, Minerva. I won’t go into the other twists because I’ve already listed them in last week’s post.
I thought, at the beginning of my thirties, that I would have it all sorted out by the time I turned forty, but as that age drew closer I realized the only thing I could be sure of was that nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, will ever be finally and for always sorted out. This realization has set me free from striving to be in a position in life that is actually a mirage – the closer you think you are getting to it the more it disappears. It has enabled me to look at life differently – where nothing is set and there are opportunities everywhere. I normally find this a very good place to be.
But, some days, I hate it.
When I got back from Thailand I planned to live more simply and do more for the community and animals. I planned to live my life with more inner strength and personal integrity. This isn’t opposed to knowing I will never have everything sorted out. It is a philosophy I want to live whilst moving with life instead of against it.
Just one problem – I am feeling really, really overwhelmed right now. There are so many things I could do with my life that I am stuck doing nothing because I don’t know which way to go. I have no idea how to go about my forties. What do I want to pursue? Do I really want to write novels? Is it too late to have a career change? What causes do I want to support? Do I want to do volunteer work? If nothing is sorted, everything is an option, and it’s unbelievably hard choose between them – and I do have to make choices because I can’t do everything. But because I can’t make a choice I am stuck in one spot and doing nothing. Why can’t I make a choice? I just don’t know.
Maybe I’m not as comfortable as I would like to be with not having my life sorted out– and I am afraid I will make a choice that will take me further into uncertainty.
Sometimes I think it would be easier if I had children. I would be a mum before anything else and my life would revolve around my kids. My choices would be limited to those that were in line with my role in being a mum.
I know this is utter rubbish, of course, because mums have many, many choices they have to make all the time and not just for themselves but for their children too. It is not easier for them than it is for me in terms of making choices about their lives. And being a mum isn’t necessarily a life-encompassing role either. Many women are mums and pursue careers or causes or hobbies or other things as well.
For me, though, being a mum would likely have been the major role in my life. If people asked what I did I would be able to answer “I’m a Mum.” Of course, being a mum would have been in the context that nothing in life is ever sorted. Even now it hurts my heart that I will never be able to say that – although I do consider myself a mum to my fur-kids.
Am I rambling? Maybe I am. Maybe that’s a reflection of how confused I am right now. I think I’m going through another stage where I don’t know who I am if I am not going to be a parent. I don’t know what to do or what path to pursue. I don’t even know if I am happy right now.
That’s life I guess.
I’m reading a book at the moment called “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking” by Oliver Burkeman. It was given to me by one of my friends for my fortieth birthday. I’m half way through it. I think it might be a book that will give me a new perspective on life that might help with where I am at the moment. I’ll let you know.