It has taken me to my early thirties to realize that I don’t know what I’m doing with my life outside of being a mother. I look around and I see friends excelling in their careers, several years and promotions in, with a financially stable future ahead. And then I look at myself, working a part-time job, with two small and very part-time businesses on the side, my mind clouded with worry of what to cook for dinner, when to clean the house, and how to complete the grocery shopping trip with little to no tantrums from my toddler.
I remember when I was younger I never really had any big dreams about my future. I loved playing office, and I loved the idea of dressing up nice to go to work. I thought I’d get a nice office job that was creative and allowed me the income to attend a fancy gym in the mornings. I figured I’d have my own kids and husband at some point, but never really stressed over it. And somehow I found myself in a job where I wear sweatpants all day, and have days worth of dry shampoo in my hair. The idea of wearing heels out in public makes my feet ache! My closet is full of what I call “daytime comfies” and “nighttime comfies”. I have to scramble to put together a semi-professional outfit when I go to a client’s home for a photoshoot.
Most days I try to put on at least a little bit of make-up to feel a bit better about myself, but the empty feeling of dissatisfaction still persists.
What am I doing with my life? How am I now 12 years into working in an industry for which I have very little passion for? The other day I was at work, doing some menial task and a patron jokingly said to me, “I bet you didn’t expect to be doing this job after graduating with a kinesiology degree!” It made sad because of how accurate his comment was. I also didn’t expect to even get a kinesiology degree.
At what point did everything change? At what point did I go from being a confident young girl, sure that her life would fall into place, to a woman in her 30’s working part-time with absolutely no concept of what her future will look like? It seems like at a certain point, I decided to give up dreaming and just go with the flow. And here I am. With zero direction, and zero idea of “what I want to be when I grow up”. I’m not writing this as a pity party, or to hear nice comments from my friends. I’m writing this to try and work through it. I’m genuinely curious, how did I let this happen to me?
I felt at ease for a while, figuring that becoming a mother would fulfill me in ways that I’ve been feeling empty. And yes, motherhood has fulfilled me. It has given me a sense of purpose. But what will happen when my child no longer needs me to be his everything? How will I fill my days when he’s at school? How will I contribute fairly and equally towards my family’s income? How will I pave the road towards retirement? How will I feel purposeful?
Since having my child, I’ve felt more pressure than ever to figure out my own shit so as to be able to not only provide for him, but also be a role model. I feel so stuck. On the one hand I have all of the options available to me, on the other hand I’m so overwhelmed at the though of starting from scratch and trying something new. I feel scared that my feelings around failure will sabotage any effort I may put in. I feel scared that 10 years down the line, I’ll still be feeling the same way.
I see my friends, juggling motherhood and full time careers and I’m in awe of their strength. I see my friends, focusing on motherhood with a career waiting for them to jump back into when their ready and I’m envious of their ability to prepare themselves for this journey. And then I see myself, struggling through motherhood some days, kicking ass on other days, but in a constant state of worry and wonder about the future.
When will I realize what is the thing that I’m meant to be doing? Do I keep ruminating on it? Or do I let it go and see what happens? Do I seek help? If so, who? Is anyone in the same boat as me? Or am I all alone in this search?
I pray for an answer every day.