A friend messaged me with an early HappyBirthday. And, you know, I’d totally forgotten that my birthday is coming up! Lately, the passage of years has been measured by Smudge events, not birthdays.
So, in a few days I’ll be over 40. (Thanks for reminding me, Colin!) When I was in my 20’s I thought that by the time I was old (ie: in my 40’s! Ha!) I’d be settled and content and have worked all the kinks out of my life. I thought I’d be “all set”. But, at this “old” stage of my life, I find myself – among a few other life “stuffs” – in a very strange place. An UNsettled place. A place I hadn’t anticipated.
This is what one corner of that UNsettled place looks like: I have a book published and on the verge of being press released to various media outlets. I’m up to my eyeballs in the follow-up book and am afraid to blink in case the plot points I’m struggling with get caught in my lashes. I’m returning to my teaching job next week (You know, the job that pays. Sort of sometimes.) and am wondering how I’m ever going to finish this second book by the end of the year when the first one took me six years.
I’ve had people tell me they (or someone they know) would kill to be in my shoes. But for some reason, the place I find myself in is a place where I’m totally overwhelmed and anxious about all of it. So many unknowns. So many unanswered (or unanswerable?) questions. So, I’m asking myself this question:
Is this what I want to do the rest of my life?
And I answer that question with another question:
What kind of a question is that? It took you 40 years to get here, why on earth would you want to quit now?
And then I answer:
I didn’t say I wanted to quit. I just asked if this is what I want to do the rest of my life: Dividing the hours of my days between my passion (writing) and a paycheck. It’s like working two full-time jobs, you know. And there’s LIFE to be lived besides all that, too. I have a family. Do I really have what it takes to keep this up?
I answer with another question:
Do you have what it takes to NOT keep it up?
What kind of a stupid question is that?
Are you calling me stupid?
No. Well, maybe.
Okay, smartass. Think about this: What are your options?
I have options?
You always have options.
Option one: quit your paycheck and devote your time to your passion.
That’s not an option! I can’t live without a paycheck!
Option two: quit your passion and devote your time to your paycheck.
That’s not an option either! I couldn’t live without my passion! See, I knew there were no options! You are stupid!
Option three: quit worrying about whether or not this is what you want to do the rest of your life when clearly you won’t give up either one. Simply put: You don’t have what it takes to NOT keep it up. So…. earn your paycheck so you can live and work on your passion so you can have a sense of fulfillment in that life. Problem solved.
Uh. Right. I knew that.
*Note: this is what happens when you’ve grown up as an only child and had no siblings or grandparents to talk to about stuff.