Life In Suspension

I bought it. Hook, line, and sinker. I can’t deny that I was 100% invested in the standard American Dream narrative, with generous dollops of ‘good girl’, ‘good Christian’ and ‘blue collar work ethic’ salted on top. My entire life was framed by the ideals that were represented to me as best, for me and my family, by my parents, teachers, pastors and community leaders.

“Wait”, they said. “It’ll be there when you’re older” or “when you’re ready” or “when there’s more time” or “when the time is right”. Don’t focus now on leisure, romance, adventure. Right now you must focus on school, college, law school, getting a job, building a career and a professional reputation. “The time will come for all those distractions”, they said.

And I bought it. Call me gullible, but I believed this archetypical existence was my destiny. I believed my parents and teachers were looking out for my best interests. And they were, from a certain point of view. But I no longer think our definitions of ‘best’ coincide.

Please don’t misunderstand, I am not blaming. There is nothing to blame anyone for. I’m simply awaking to the realization that my life, true living, has been in suspension. I sacrificed it to this “wait for the right time” mentality, believing that commitment to education and career was the path to personal success, to happiness.

I have certainly achieved material success as a result of that hard work. I have a wonderful career in my chosen profession with a great company. My clients appreciate me, my bosses and subordinates respect me and I’m compensated well (if not necessarily equally with some male peers). I do important, challenging work and reap rewards for my company and myself. Materially, I am more than blessed.

But, I’m approaching mid-life and have no personal (non-work) achievements or emotional assets to tally. All that focus, pouring all my time, attention and energy into developing this enviable career to the exclusion of all else, has left me socially, emotionally, romantically bereft.

All my friends are either co-workers or friends of my family. I haven’t the first clue how to date (assuming that I could find anyone willing to do so) or find new friends not related to my job or siblings.

I’m a middle aged novice at life. How sad.

But that can’t be the end of it. I may be new to this self discovery game, but I’m not hopeless. Now that I’ve awoken to find myself living (or not living) the wrong life, someone else’s life, I’ve got to fix that. I have to start planning my own course, making my own choices, giving myself permission to fail, claiming the freedom gifted to me with the material achievements I’ve made.

If I am to truly live this blessed life, though, it needs to be genuine. There’s the rub. Bringing all these self-discoveries together, synthesizing a new life out of it all, seems such a ginormous task.

Eating the elephant one bite at a time is all well and good, but where do you start?

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2 comments so far

  1. barbaralsharpe on

    You have to start small. Find something you want to do. For me, I’m learning how to sew. It’s not much and countless women have done it for generations but I’m not among them. I’m inordinately proud of a pillow I made a couple of weeks ago. I have other things I want to do, make. I want to be creative. What have you been stifling so that you can be professionally successful? That’s where to begin.

    • Searching4Self2013 on

      Thanks, Barbara. Of course, that’s really sound tactics: start small and work up to big or complex. I’m spoiled for choice. I’ve stifled a lot, so I can pick most anything. Trick will be to avoid over-analyzing it and just do it! 😉

      The sewing sounds awesome. Creativity can be therapeutic. I like working with metal. Maybe I’ll sculpt something. Hmmm…


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