Working on it

30.

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My birthday’s in September, which means that March is the month of my half-birthday.  And for most of March, I’ve been freaking out about turning 30.  It’s not that I’m concerned about wrinkles or gray hairs (although it’s easy to say that now, with few wrinkles and no [as far as I know] gray hairs); in fact, I might even go so far as to say that my concern is that I’m not getting old.  Or at least I don’t feel like I do in the way I expected I would by this point in my life.

I don’t really know what I thought adulthood would be like.  Growing up, my feelings about what I wanted to do when I was an adult changed pretty regularly.  But by the time I got to college, I had a pretty clear idea of what I would be doing with the rest of my life: going to graduate school, getting my PhD, and teaching in a university somewhere.  And yet here I am, at the age of 29 with a Master’s degree, two years of PhD study, and an entry-level job about which I have very mixed feelings.  Most days I feel frustrated.  Some days I feel like I’ve failed completely.  People define success in different ways, and I can recognize that I’m very lucky to have what I do have: a fiancé, a great family, great friends, and a wonderful network of people I’ve met through this blog.  But I’ve always been the sort of person who craves satisfaction from her work, and who wants to feel passionate about that work.  It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way.

For the past few years I’ve wanted to focus more on a career in a health-related field.  This is actually why I left graduate school–I realized that French literature was not my passion, and that I really wanted to get certified as a yoga instructor, study health education, and do something that would help others to learn about how to take care of themselves and make their lives better through healthy habits.  My experiences over these past years have just made me want that even more.  Realistically, though, I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to go back to school and start studying something like health education.  In addition to worrying that I’ve failed, I wonder if having this blog is the closest I’ll ever come to helping people learn to lead healthier lives.

I don’t like the idea of turning 30 while so much of what I want to do with my life feels so far away.  As a result, I’ve been working really hard to try to feel like I’m at least moving toward my goals, even though I may not reach them.  I get annoyed sometimes thinking that all I can really do is work on things, and having to settle on knowing that life is a process.  I’m working on recovery from my ED, becoming a stronger runner, a happier person, someone who is more accepting of herself, and more generous and loving toward others.  To be honest, I feel like I’m working all the time, and there are still things I’m not getting done: I haven’t yet lifted a single weight, nor have I done any yoga in a few weeks.  Every time I start down that road of thought, I have to pull myself back and remember that beating myself up for what I haven’t done or haven’t become yet isn’t going to help me.

I want my adult years to feel fuller.  Instead of feeling like I’m always trying to get somewhere, I want to feel like I’m there.  I’ve spent a lot of my time on the outside of things, afraid or unable to get involved for one reason or another, and I don’t want to turn 30 doing the same thing.  There’s nothing wrong with working on it, and I know there will be things I will work on for the rest of my life.  But I hope that with some things, I can develop a sense of ownership of some sort, and ultimately feel a bit more comfortable and at home with them.  Maybe it’s a 1/3-life crisis or something.  I just know that I don’t want to keep feeling like things are passing me by.

Embrace:Me 30-day challenge, day 18: Today I’ve been listening to my body and trying to give it what it needs when it comes to food.  At times, this meant eating something because my stomach was growling.  At others, it meant putting down my fork because I’d had enough.  I know that the more I listen, the easier it will become to do these things.  Today was a good day of practice.

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15 comments

  1. happy half-birthday month! 🙂

    i’m right there with you. my job, eh, wish i enjoyed/was passionate about mine. i’m afraid of trying to think what i want to do because “what if i don’t like that either”. so yeah, lots of fear-of-the-fail here too. i think we’ve also both mentioned that rd-ing sounds cool but we’re too afraid of the jump. or something like that. i know i need to just do something…. make a change. take a leap.

    1. Yeah, make a change/take a leap is a good way to put it. I feel like I’m stagnating. A big part of me really wants to go for a RD, but I’m not sure it would be the best choice because of my own issues about food. And the fact that I have no science background and it seems like a lot of what I want to do requires prereqs that I don’t have and don’t know how to get…

      One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is health/wellness coaching. I would love to do that and get certified to teach yoga but, I don’t know. Deep down I think part of the problem is that I’m not sure I could actually do it. That added to the fact that I have no idea how to get started makes it really intimidating.

      I’d even be happy to get speaking engagements about ED recovery or something like that. But I don’t know how to get started doing that. I wish I had some credentials. Bah, I just hate feeling like I may have missed out on doing things and now it’s too late 😦

      1. i have no science background either. i took geology as my lab science in college… but i need to start somewhere so i finally just emailed. not like it hurts – just getting info right?

        yeah wellness would be cool too – i feel like you/i could do that given the right timing. i assume most job postings would require a background in nursing/something health-related. at least for the wellness i’ve thought of anyway.

        i assume you’ve looked on NEDA.org? maybe just getting involved with an organization as a volunteer would get your foot in the door to other things?

        it’s not too late! WE ARE YOUNG. don’t make us out to be grannys just yet 😉

  2. Turning 30 was scary to me too. It’s not at all how you imagine it. I mean you used to think that that was old…I’m not old 🙂 And I’m over 30 now. It will be okay though. When the day comes you’ll wonder why you felt so weird about just a few months before, promise 😀

    1. Thanks for the words of encouragement! I’ve heard a lot of people say they are much happier in their thirties than they were in their twenties…hopefully the same will be true for me, although I have to say that getting to the thirties is hell 🙂

  3. Oh, dear Emilie, I am terrified too. 30 just sounds too serious. The hardest part of all this, I think, is that no matter where you’re at or how much you achieved the goals you set up years ago, you’re going to feel exactly the same. Everything has changed since 5 years or so. I am a different person and I have different goals. My priorities and my interests are just in a different configuration. I am now married, I own a house, I’m in the last stretch of my graduate studies, and I am a mother, but “what I want to do with my life” is still far away. Believe me. My life is more than full, but I never feel like I am there. My point is: I think it’s about the feeling more than the actual facts. Maybe you would feel the same if you were a yoga instructor right now. Does it make any sense?

    Anyway, happy half birthday!

    1. That makes a lot of sense. Maybe it’s true that we never really feel like we’re ‘there’…I guess if we did, we would have no reason or motivation to move forward.

      30 does sound so serious, doesn’t it? That’s such a good way to put it.

  4. You are definitely not alone in these feelings. My half-birthday to 30 will be June 9th. I sure don’t feel almost 30. While I am thrilled with where my life is (married, nearly have my Master’s, generally happy), I’m not at all where I thought I would be. The main problem is that I still don’t feel like a grown-up. I don’t know for sure what I want to be when I grow up. I have so much more I thought I would experience by know, to know by now. At least we are not alone in this. I’ll join you in the 1/3 life crisis…

    1. Haha, at least we’re in good company 🙂

      I know what you mean about not feeling like a grown-up, and it doesn’t help that I am still wearing some of the same clothes I was wearing in college and graduate school, when I was officially not in grown-up mode at all. Have you ever thought of asking people like your parents or others who are older than you whether they feel like grown-ups? I think about doing that from time to time. I wonder what people would say? I may have to try it…

  5. I had a big list of “things to do before turning 30”. I did (almost) everything on my list and had a lot of fun with those, but I was also pretty entrenched in my ED. Fortunately one of those items was to finish a marathon, which spurred me toward recovery.

    But now I’m feeling a little like you explained… not feeling like I’m grown up, not really satisfied in my career, a little unsure. I would love to be certified as a yoga instructor, but I’m not sure I would want to open a studio, I just want that deeper knowledge of the practice. I would love to help people with their health (through more run coaching, ED recovery/activism/etc., nutrition coaching, something) but I don’t know that I’ll go back to school to make any changes. I’m feeling a little lost.

    And for some reason, my upcoming birthday in August where I turn 33 feels really intimidating, far more than 30 did. Because that seems like I’m really “in my 30’s”!

    1. It’s interesting that 33 feels scarier than 30–I can totally see where you’re coming from with that. It sounds like we are feeling the same things, and in relation to the same desires. It’s great that you’re already able to reach out to people through coaching–I think it’s so cool that you are certified! I hope that having that outlet at least helps you feel like you’re a little less lost than you fear you are!

  6. I’m a little late to respond to this, sorry — I’ve had the page open in my browser since the day it came out, but have only just now gotten a chance to respond.
    First of all — have you read the book “Quarter Life Crisis”? It mentions many of the things you feel. I read it when I started grad school, and it was at times obvious and superficial, but overall it was nice to chew on those ideas and realize it’s a “cultural phenomenon” and not “just me.”
    Secondly — just to say, I relate! I am still in grad school (for lit), and still not sure it’s right. There are days I think I should have just gone to law school like I’d planned for the decade before I got to college. There are other days I curse my lack of interest in business or the medical field. And there are days I actually love what I do! I will probably be done with my PhD when I’m about 30 — so I will then be starting an entry level position in my 30s, too, and I so sympathize. I read facebook posts of my friends who have bought houses, for example, and I get really frustrated because I feel like I’m still young and figuring things out instead of enjoying what I’ve figured out. I had a serious freak-out when I started grad school, because it felt like all around me, doors were shutting — there goes the chance to be a vet, there goes the chance to study architecture, there goes the chance to be a great tennis player, etc. I still have those moments if I think about it much.
    Something I’ve only just realized is that it’s hard for me to even *dream* anymore. I try to think about if I could do anything and make a ton of money, what would I want to do? And it’s almost like my mind won’t let me even entertain that idea because if it’s not what I’m doing now I’ll feel like my 20s have been a waste and all I’ll feel is the emptiness of what I’ *not* instead of what I am. So for me, it’s sad that this fear has manifested itself in my inability to “dream.”
    I know we’ll both make it through this, and look back and laugh at how stressed out we were, but for now, it’s rough.

    1. Haha, it’s good to know that I’m not the only person who leaves blog posts open for days while meaning to comment 🙂 I haven’t read that book but it sounds like I definitely should! Thanks for the recommendation, I will check it out.

      I feel like I could be saying everything you’re saying about being in grad school. I still toy with the idea of going back…but I’m not sure about it. I completely relate to what you’re saying about not really being able to dream anymore. Anytime anyone asks me what I would most like to be doing the first thing I think is, “What difference does it make? I won’t be doing it, so why even think about it?” Other people say, “Come on, you’re not that old…” but then they kind of cringe when they hear what I’m doing with my life, how little money I make, and how I don’t even have a retirement account set up. It seems like all the people I know on facebook are buying houses, too, or having children, or just being adults–and I feel completely lost. And a big part of it is, like you said, that I will look back on my 20s and just feel like I wasted so much time when I could have or should have been having a great time and *not* worrying about any of this stuff.

      It is definitely rough now, but I’m glad we can at least sympathize with each other. And you’re right, we will both make it through and things will work out!

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