Ever since my 37th birthday, I’ve been in a bit of a funk.
That is a substantial age – 37. One could say that I’m in my late thirties. And I don’t feel content with where I’m at, professionally, creatively, and personally.
Now, in the world of family? I am content. I love my two kids like crazy, and I love parenting. I love my wife, and we’re at a moment in our lives (Post Farming) when we’re sort of resetting our lives, routines, rituals, et al.
But everything else feels not-quite-right. And that’s silly, I know. I’m incredibly blessed, and incredibly privileged. When I am not in a funk, I practice gratitude and I count my blessings wholeheartedly. However, when I’m in a funk like this – an existential birthday funk that leaves me filled with regret about past choices and worry about being able to achieve my dreams – I get overwhelmed.
There were a couple of other triggers for my funk in addition to my birthday. I had a coffee date with a friend who is self-employed and running several different businesses, and I found myself envying how inspired and motivated she is. And I started noticing a lot of writers and bloggers who have found a niche and a platform, and realizing that many of them are either my age or younger. That terrifies me, and triggers a lot of comparison and envy. And FEAR! Because what if it’s too late to achieve my dreams related to writing? Or what if I don’t have enough money, talent, or dedication to get it done?
Oy. I know better than to compare myself to others, especially via the internet. I should not compare my experience to anyone else’s experience. But my envy really is caused by fear and dissatisfaction related to my own life. If I felt like I was moving toward my creative goals, then I would not envy others. And I have known that I want to be a writer since I was seven years old, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.
When I start to feel regretful and overwhelmed, my kids keep me from completely losing my perspective. Adoption is a miracle; there are a million different circumstances that had to transpire to bring my boys home to Tamara and me. When I start to ponder, What if I had moved to California ten years ago?, it’s not long before I remember that if I’d done that, it’s quite possible that I wouldn’t be Edgar and Jonas’s mommy, which is unfathomable to me. So, they help me to keep faith, and to remember that everything happens for a reason.
After my coffee date and a mini meltdown when I found out that an extremely successful blogger is my age and way wealthier than I’ll ever be, I realized something. I don’t actually want any of the things that my self-employed friend has; I just feel insecure because I’m not working (enough) toward all the things I do want. And sometimes, I get so caught up in envying others that I lose focus on the things I want. By the time my coffee date was over, I was daydreaming about becoming a yoga instructor and starting a private therapy practice. Once I calmed down and clarified things, I realized that I actually don’t want either of those things.
I love yoga. I love running. I love reading. Those are big, huge aspects of ME that I enjoy. But when I really sat down to clarify what my top priorities are, I came up with the same three words that I identified months ago: family, service, and writing.
I would not have felt envious of my friend if I were a) making progress on a draft of a novel, b) writing stories or articles and submitting them for publication, or c) financially secure enough to know that I have plenty of time, space, and money to do what I want to do.
Now, item c) is tricky at the moment; we’ll table that for the time being.
But when I look at those three top priorities – family, service, and writing – I know exactly what needs to be done. I need to prioritize my family – that one’s easy. I need to seek out and take advantage of all opportunities to help others.
AND THEN THERE IS WRITING.
I know what needs to be done. I know the challenges – kids, full-time job, community. I have to find the time and the way to make things happen in my writing life. My birthday funk won’t feel funky if I am working toward the goals I want to achieve.
I’ve been contemplating life alignment for such a long time, and it feels amazing to zero in on my three top priorities in life. NOW – to make the changes I need to make so my priorities become prioritized. Let’s do this.