This time of year for me is always a time of deep reflection and planning for the year ahead; it is both the end of the calendar year and soon will mark the passing of another chronological year for me. However this year I must confess I am in a bit of a funk as I struggle to find that balance between my passion, reality and growing up.
In many ways, I put too much pressure on myself and now it has backfired on me and I don’t know what to do with the resulting mess that is plastered all over my emotional walls. Looking back to a decade ago when I was on the brink of turning 30, I had such high hopes for myself, so many things I hoped to accomplish, so many dreams. Instead my 30’s ushered in real adult life, starting with my mom’s cancer diagnosis not long after turning 30 and her death six weeks after I turned 31. Don’t get me wrong the past decade hasn’t been an entire bust; I finished graduate school and earned my master’s degree which for someone who dropped out of high school isn’t too shabby. Thanks to the generosity of loved ones, the man unit and I were able to become homeowners which it turns out sounds far better in theory than reality when you have two left fingers and find The Home Depot to be a dreary and depressing place. We added a beautiful daughter to our family, I saw my son grow into being a fine young man. I have work that is meaningful and passionate; my childhood dream of becoming a real writer came true.
The reality is that on the checklist of goals I had at 30, I have hit most of the goals except for one that I have continued to ignore but am realizing is no longer possible to ignore. Financial security has eluded me and continues to elude me and it’s starting to bother me. From a financial perspective my 30’s were basically a continuation of my 20’s, except that health insurance was no longer a given.
This morning I woke up thinking of my father who is getting older and basically living hand to mouth and the fact that in the next decade he will probably retire and with no retirement plan, the reality is that my brother and I will have to help him out. His own fragile financial stability was shattered with my mom’s death and resulting bills and thanks to the worldwide economic crisis and his age; he has never regained his footing.
Then there is that pesky reality that hell, I don’t even have a plan for my own retirement one day, so basically I will be working until I die. That thought scares me to death; it scares me to think that I could end up being that little old lady trying to eat cat food to survive. Or burdening my own kids due to my desire to follow my bliss and passion.
It’s in these moments that I realize that I am still quite young enough that I can change the financial course of my life and that history doesn’t have to repeat itself. The problem is that to change the course of my life essentially means leaving the work that I love and the work/life balance that I have that allows me time to indulge my creative side. Earlier this year I received a call from a headhunter about a position that was amazing on paper with an attractive six figure salary and lovely benefits; the only problem is the job would have taken my soul. It was the type of administrative position that I am well qualified to do, but despise the thought of. After my initial excitement about the idea of being in the running for such a high profile position, my soul cried out, don’t do it!!! I listened to my soul as I have done in the past and now am starting to realize that maybe it’s now time to seek out such positions.
I have always loved that the man unit and I have crafted a life that we live on our terms but lately that money thing is weighing heavy on me as yet another year passes and I was unable to visit with family. My seven year old has relatives she has never met, she only just met my brother on Thanksgiving when he came out here and she is seven years old! Sadly it is our turn to visit family since they all last visited us but living life on our terms never seems to allow for travel and it’s starting to scare me how fast the years are flying by.
So as I do the dance of struggle in these dark days of December I grapple with the question of what next? I do know that if I move on to a different type of job the demands pretty much will take away the simple joys such as being able to write publicly to the extent that I do. There will be a cost to my family, but what really what costs more? Living joyously and presently with just enough or making the sacrifice and doing the adult thing and dedicating myself fully and maybe even miserably to achieve the dream of financial stability. Of course I sometimes wonder is financial stability in this ever changing world even accessible to the masses.
Deep thoughts and much planning lay ahead for me.