They say write what you know.
What if the only thing I know right now is how much I don’t know?
If we had to play the game of labelling seasons of life, my forties would be titled, “What the Fuck?”
My family, my lifestyle, my ambitions, my roles, my desires are changing in ways which keep me up at night wondering, “What's next?" Everything I thought to be steadfast and true in my thirties is unravelling like a spool of yarn as I enter my mid-forties.
I’ve spent the last two decades of my life hustling, working my ass off to build a beautiful life and epic professional reputation. I wanted the best and I wanted to be the best. I knew that my thirties were going to be a decade of being in the weeds—parenting small humans, scraping by financially, and failing at work/life balance. I was okay with all the sacrifice and sleepless nights because of my unwavering faith that it would all be worth it in the end.
I knew exactly where I was going and how I was going to get there.
From the time I was a wee babe in my twenties, I have always known the trajectory of my life—personally and professionally. First you land a boyfriend. Then you lock shit down with a ring. Marriage. House. Babies. Puppies. Happily, ever after.
Turns out, The Plan didn’t go as planned. I checked all those boxes but when it got to the “happily ever after” part, the house of cards I had built crumbled to the ground. I found myself broke, devastated, lonely, and starting over.
The saving grace was that I had a plan for my career. I even weathered some unexpected but exciting pivots and like a good ‘lil soldier, marched my way to the top of my profession. But after twenty years of hardcore hustle, I found myself freaking exhausted. Tired of the life I had worked so diligently to construct, one that left me too depleted to find any joy in what I had earned.
The Plan had let me down again.
Then, I did something stupid.
Scratch that. I did something brave.
Scratch that. I did something stupid and brave. “Strave”? (Note to self: Trademark new word.)
I quit it all and gave myself permission to throw away The Plan.
Once again, I am broke, devastated, lonely, and starting over. Life is funny like that.
I find myself in a season of life where I am without a plan, without direction, without an intention. In professional transition and with children who are almost grown and need me less.
I am a writer who isn’t writing.
A speaker who isn’t speaking.
A teacher who isn’t teaching.
A mother who isn’t actively mothering.
A wife who isn’t… Well, if the definition of “wife-ing” is feeding and fucking your husband, at least I am killing it in that department.
Aside from the resounding endorsement from my well-satisfied husband, I find myself pondering my purpose.
Who am I?
Who do I want to be?
What could my future look like?
How big can I dream?
Sitting in this purgatory is wildly uncomfortable but I am trying to do just that. Sit. As someone who has been obsessively inclined towards action my whole life, I am doing my best to be still and not rush blindly forward. I don’t know what comes next and instead of letting that admission crush me like a cockroach on the sidewalk, I am learning to embrace the unknown. It’s really fucking hard. Having faith in the seeds I’ve sown is not easy.
While there is so much that I don’t know, there are a few things I audaciously hold true:
I know that the professional trajectory I envisioned no longer suits me. I am done trading my time and mental health for money.
I know that even though my path isn’t well-lit (yet), I have spent decades cultivating skills and relationships which have the potential to serve my career, whatever that may be.
I know that I have diligently labored to raise self-assured, good human beings who will go forth to make their own mark on the world.
I know my boys will always love their mama.
I know that I want to see the world and embrace the discomfort of being immersed in various cultures, languages, and religions.
I know that in the past, taking risks has paid off exponentially.
I guess I do know a few things after all.
While some self-prophesizing asshole once said, “Hope is not a plan” I disagree. Right now, I only have hope. I hope for a future which is deeply fulfilling and this hope will inspire action when I am ready. I hope that one day (soon, please), I will wake up with clarity and assuredness. I hope that my “Hustling Thirties” and “WTF Forties” will pave the road for my “Fabulous Fifties.”
Come to think of it, “No-Fucks Fifties” is more on-brand for me. I hope for an era when I can live the life I want without fear of judgment or failure, where I’ve put in my time and deserve to live unapologetically.
In fact, I don’t hope that decade is coming. I know it.