Who you are vs. who you want to be

14 May

6:14 pm

So, as you all know, we moved to a new place about three months ago, and we’re managing to stay sane, I suppose!  Being in a new place, my contract job having ended, and neither of us really all that extroverted or desiring to be so–it just sort of sucks!  It is NOT EASY moving somewhere new in your 40s!  Haha.  You sort of just don’t feel like any of it anymore, you know?  I knew that I would feel more comfortable in one of the many places that I have already lived, but I thought, take a chance, go outside your comfort zone (again), yada yada yada.  I think we have both realized that there is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to aging and trying certain new things, like, moving to a new place.  I don’t know.

And, this has all made me start thinking about this whole, “go outside your comfort zone” thing, which I’ve been trying to do my whole life, to varying degrees of success.  Like, what IS a comfort zone, and why do we have this idea of it being a bad thing?  Are you supposed to be doing something that makes you feel comfortable, most like yourself; or are you supposed to be challenging yourself and doing things that are hard or scary or too big to chew?  I guess I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I just can’t stand writing anymore, and I want to do something else; but, when I boil it down and observe myself in action–you know, being who I am, or who I have always gravitated toward being–I realize that I AM simply a writerly type (quiet, thoughtful, introverted, so at ease in my thoughts) and then, can’t seem to conclude that I should do something else.

Yet, what IF I didn’t want to be that thing anymore?  Can I just go and be someone else entirely, throwing off the “callings” and character traits that I always seem to relax into, and instead do something that I think would make me the person I want to be (less in my head, more active, more intrepid, as it were)?  I have thought about this a lot in getting sober, in moving through it all, in relocating, in losing yet another job that I didn’t really want in the first place but that I was “good” at and that I made money doing.  Are you supposed to be who you are, or work at being who you want to be?

I am SO fully on board right now with trying to be who I want to be–with putting in that work–because I am so tired of who I am.  I am so tired of being the neurotic writer, the science geek.  It’s like, I wasn’t that good at science and wanted to major in freaking poetry in college (yeah, the fear started way back then, and it is one of my life’s regrets)!?  Um, when as a child did I say, Mommy, I really want to be a…technical writer when I grow up?  Time is running out, y’all.  And not only that, but I am sort of becoming desperate to NOT be in my head all day–even IF it means taking a huge pay cut…at a time in my life when I need all the money I can get.

The other day, as I was contemplating who I am (a writer) versus who I want to be (maybe a public health professional, maybe someone who works for an international development nonprofit or NGO), I was struck by how confusing it is to decide who to be:  which person (the one you are, the one you want to be) is more authentic, more truthful, more along the lines of fulfilling a personal destiny?

It’s a dilemma.  As a writer, I am always looking for work, selling myself, and moving from contract to contract, subject to subject.  I mean, it would almost be easier to be a lawyer, or anything with a well-formed trajectory, and then at a certain point be like, it’s too late to change course.  As a writer, part of your job is changing course, so you are constantly also thinking about courses outside of your own realm (well, at least some of us are).

I am trying to sort of end this chapter in my life, but I have only ideas, and not enough savings, and a heavy dose of fear.  I hate that.  I hate feeling afraid at this late stage–I am 43 years old, and it’s only been in the past several years or so that I wouldn’t have just up and left a well-paying job to pursue a shitty paying passion.  And, I am grateful for that newfound level-headedness (it has enabled a lot of financial progress and big changes, like this move), but I’m also still learning how to balance my need to earn a big check with my equally large need to feel stimulated, excited, fulfilled, wanting to get out of bed in the morning.  I know there are many an alternate career I can pursue, and I just need to sit down and chart a course of action beyond the next few months.  All in due time, I say.

I gave up freelance writing because it did not pay the bills; and, I think it might have just tired me out and made me believe that I didn’t like writing when in fact, it was the stress of never making enough money.  I WANT to be like, eh, I don’t need the savings, the retirement account; I should just Go For It and become a barista (again), or a teacher, or a poorly paid writer for an international NGO.  Yet, can I expect to feel safe, or, the way I want to feel, on that kind of income anymore?  In an ideal world, we would have a thriving business, which would allow me to pursue a more “passionate” career again; in THIS world, maybe we would both feel equal parts comfortable and challenged; in this world, maybe I would love being a writer again.

Exhale.  It will all be OK, I keep telling myself.  You got this.  It’s all about balance, right?

8 Responses to “Who you are vs. who you want to be”

  1. Tiffany May 15, 2018 at 12:19 am #

    I understand, and am sending positive thoughts your way.

  2. Just Some Woman May 15, 2018 at 12:59 pm #

    Almost two years ago I decided I was DONE with my career. Actually, I was done long before then. But how to walk away from that income???
    I finally decided that some things aren’t WORTH the money. I sold real estate and managed rental properties for 24 years. I was good at it. What eventually did me in was PEOPLE. I have no clue how I lasted as long as I did. You mentioned “fullfilment”. That only came when I collected that check.
    I managed to save a bit of money along the way, and own 2 rental properties. My husband assists a bit, but I’m not one to sacrifice my indepence to a man, even after being married 30 years!
    But it’s ok. Some days I feel unproductive. Useless. Like I’m just taking up space. I always get over it😀. It’s not worth forcing myself to do something that I hate just to make a dollar. One day I may go back to work. I may have to. But quite frankly, I don’t give a shit if it’s in a gas station or fast food. That may be considered quite a slide down, but as long as I’m not miserable enough to start drinking it’s all good.
    The “brain pain” of going against my nature just isn’t worth it.
    You’ll find your way…you’ve been doing it quite well for some time now!

    • Drunky Drunk Girl May 15, 2018 at 4:48 pm #

      It’s so great to hear from you on this–and, brain pain is a great term, btw (totes how I feel about the past 20 years of my working life–and it was all self-inflicted!) Yeah, I think it might just boil down to truly getting to know yourself and then, seeking out a different path in spite of the fear you feel and the sometimes judgments from yourself and others. Hugs–really needed to read this today! 🙂

  3. carrieonsober May 15, 2018 at 5:37 pm #

    There’s no right path. Just the one that feels good right now.
    If it feels wrong you’ve got to trust yourself to know what is not for you and change it.
    Life is too short…
    Trust in yourself, you have got this, it will be ok.
    Baby steps xx

  4. Finding a Sober Miracle May 16, 2018 at 9:38 am #

    I’m here as your guardian angel of the future. 💕

    (Do you like A Christmas Carol? You know, where all the ghosts visit and tell him about the past, present, future?) If not, bear with me anyway.

    I’m here to tell you that at 55, life is just beginning. I have an array of things I’m interested in pursuing, and I have much more trust and faith that things will work out for me. I was completely burned out by a job I was good at: technical writing, basically. But I found out this: Writing on demand sucks. Writing about financial news, etc., was mind-numbing and I dreaded sitting down to pound out another course on internal auditing under a deadline, regardless of what it paid.

    Having said that, I’ve given almost no consideration to retirement, etc. I’m too young! And also, it makes you settle for security. Security will never get you your dreams.

    So … maybe all of this is an opportunity to really reach out, not necessarily outside your comfort zone (I’m all about comfort) as much as inside your passion. Where would that lead you? I’m ‘discovering’ this now, and I feel like I’m just getting ready to launch … something. I’m not sure yet what it will be, but I know it’s coming.

    I am open to moving again if that’s where opportunity leads. I would have to convince my husband, but that’s doable. What area of the country do you live in? Email me privately if you want to hear more on things I’m considering pursuing. Would love your input:


    • Drunky Drunk Girl May 28, 2018 at 2:09 am #

      Hi, Been meaning to get back to you on this–what a lovely comment. Will try to be in touch soon with ideas! xx

  5. ainsobriety May 17, 2018 at 8:38 pm #

    Work life balance is a complicated thing.
    I try to embrace the philosophy of karma yoga. That I give my effort in whatever my work is, whether it’s my passion or not. It helps stop me from trying to find some sort of deep meaning in everything I do. There isn’t.
    I have 9 years to retirement and a good pension. I have worked 22 years as an engineer.
    Is it my calling? I don’t think so. I like it. But it supports my family and keeps my kids secure. That’s a huge priority,
    I also teach yoga, where I feel helpful and needed.
    And then there’s all the unpaid work of living.

    These choices are tough. Hug

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