Which is not entirely unexpected really, given I’m counting down to months to my 50th birthday. I’m feeling unsettled. I’m doing a lot but feel I’m doing little well. It’s like I’m in between a lot of things, circling around them at the edges, unsure, ill-equipped or unable to dive in. I have more questions than answers and these doubts sure have loud voices in my head. So in an attempt to get it all out of my mind, I’m laying it out here:
Career: I’ve been doing this PR thing for two and a half decades! I think I’m good at it. I enjoy it. I love where I work. But insecurities are creeping in. I sit in meetings with smart, eloquent, accomplished women and cower in the shadow of their virtuosity. Why can’t I be more like them? Do I need to be more like them? How do I do that? Do I even want to? Can I keep up with the relentlessly changing nature of this industry? And is my kind of expertise old news now?
Writing: Some of you may have noticed I haven’t published on this blog for more than half a year. The place used to have an identity: it was originally a blog about parenting, then about being a working mom. I loved blogging and my blog. Now? I dunno. Truth is the words seem to have escaped me. My writing muse has disappeared and I’m not sure where or who she is anymore.
Politics: Ugh. It’s scary and deafening and defeating. It’s huge but it’s also local. I want to do something that makes a difference but I’m not sure I can. There’s just so so much. And maybe I don’t want to be here any more, in the midst of it all. I was listening to NPR’s Fresh Air recently, an interview with a Pakistani author about his novel Exit West which is a story about knowing when to flee your country. But leaving is no simple thing, when you have a family, a home, a career. How do we know if or when to leave? Should we get out before the doors get locked. And how do you carry on day to day when leaving might be something we decide – or need – to do. Is leaving the right thing even to do? Stay and wait it out. Resist and fight? Or leave and save ourselves while we can?
Kids: The next few years will be critical, as our kids become tweens and then teens. I often daydream about having the time to be more participant in their schools, activities, studies – and less involved in my career. Would they even want me around that much? Would I go nuts? I think this is the age when they most need a parent nearby; when they are most vulnerable to social pressures, homework challenges, the call of independence and all that unchartered territory. I once read someone describing parenting tweens as an exercise in proximity. I think I need to be more proximate but not sure how to construct that.
So there you go, a cliff notes to my mid-life crisis – if you’ve made it this far. I guess I’m just not sure which way my compass is pointing right now. Maybe it’s time to re-read The Alchemist because I’m pretty sure the signals and omens are all right there; they usually are.