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The B Word

8 May

Figuring out what to do with your life is hard work. And it’s even harder when you’re doing the work as an adult, and not as a 19 year old backpacking across Europe trying to find herself. The fact that the freedom of youth is more fun than the drudgery of adulthood, though, does not make it any less valid. This is what I realized today, as I puff-puff-puffed my way along a winding trail, on my first run since my son was a baby. Enjoyment is just as valid as struggle. Fulfillment is just as valid as pain. They both have their place in our lives. Adulthood does not have to be equated with misery.

Lately, I’ve forgotten that. It’s not that I want to be miserable—of course I don’t—but in the difficult process of figuring out what I should do with my life (which is very different from figuring out what I want to do with my life, but more on that in another post), I have become very responsible. Being responsible is good. It’s great! Having a calendar chock full of meetings, appointments and obligations is very grown up. And frankly, it’s about time, as I’m a twenty-six year old college graduate with a husband and two children to take care of.

I love that I am working hard. I love that I have been busy trying to piece together a career, and along with it, some financial stability. What I don’t love is my recent, slightly obsessive mindset that unless I am doing something productive, then I am wasting time. I need to ask myself, who defines productive anyway?

How is having a nap, going for a jog, or hanging out on the floor playing trains with my son, not productive? Have I become the kind of person who only categorizes things that bring in revenue (work) or potential future revenue (school) as important? How on earth did that happen?

It happened because, when something is lacking, it is possible to become laser focused on that thing. Thus, being broke, I became obsessed. I spent hours upon hours just working on ways to make money—sending our resumes, looking into the possibility of starting up my own business, helping my husband apply for grants, volunteering at places that I would like to work one day in the hopes that a job opens up. I have been (and still am, to a large extent) consumed. But the fact that money is important (and it is important), does not mean that all else ceases to matter. Furthering my career is important to me and to the future of my family, but it is not the only thing that’s important.

Health is important. Rest is important. Togetherness is important. As is that elusive B-word that we women strive for so hard: Balance.
So today, while I should have been getting some work done, I laced up my shoes, left the kids with their dad, and puff-puff-puffed my way along a winding path. Not because I felt like I should, but because I wanted to, and I could.

More to come on where I’m going with my life and what I’ve been working on–Stay tuned.