They say if you don’t have a destination in mind, any road will get you there.
Well crap, I apparently, no longer have a destination… well I do, but it’s a rather vague place, known tritely as “happy,” but since when can I not even define what that means?
I listen to the MorningCoach podcast (the free version, but am interested in investing in the subscriber service), which posts on iTunes every Monday. Every week, Scott asks you “did you do your homework?” and take an assessment of your satisfaction in life and if you’re where you want to be. If you are, he says, keep on going. If not, figure out what’s not right and work on it a little each day or take a big leap to make something change. The power is simply in doing a check in- simply taking stock of where you are, to monitor what’s happening in your life before too much time lapses and you’re in a rut.
Well this is my check-in, and all I can say is, “Crap.” I came to Chicago nearly a year ago, to get my master’s degree in sociology with the intention of using it as a stepping stone for my Ph.D. and a blissful, erudite life in academics. I pictured myself with “Dr.” in front of my name and “,Ph.D” right after it. You name it, I’ve had my a$$ handed to me while doing it- budgeting, networking, dating, getting to know the city, stress management….oh ya, and then there’s the big thing….I kind of don’t want the career I’ve mapped out for myself, you know, like, at all.
Needless to say, I’ve been uncomfortable since moving to Chicago, and stay ever more uncomfortable still- especially since I had my “Oh Cr@p” as detailed in my Crying-in-Beer-Post. I’ve been uncomfortable, but simultaneously anxious that I’m not actually moving forward. The only thing I can garner from this sort of depressing change of plans (I mean, honestly, who wants to pour themselves into a traditional academic career only to realize it’s not for them?) is that I was able to at least knock one career path off my list, additionally it did serve up a healthy dose of experience that I can use to better tailor my life from this point forward.
It’s amazing how questioning your career choice leads you to questioning absolutely everything….am I really happy? Could I be happier? What am I truly passionate about? If that wasn’t my life’s work, what would be? What meaning can I discover in life? Am I healthy as I need to be? Am I really ready to find love? Needless to say, I’ve become a hot-mess of thoughts like this…I have few answers.
But, I have found that if you find yourself running your mind around in circles trying to answer these big questions, if you’re a 20-something, or a 30-something, or even a 60-something, the only thing that brings me comfort, strengthens my faith and gives me hope that I’m on the right path to find out, is to combat your anxiety by taking a risk. (odd, I know). If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always had.
For example…I’ve been stressing about money. It seems to be evaporating out of my hands as I finish my master’s degree and I’ve been freaking out. Oddly enough, the one thing that made me stop worrying about my financial future…I couldn’t think of any reasonable, attainable number in my bank account that would make me feel safe and secure. Thinking of getting a second job, on top of classes, while still meeting my goals for health and frugality only stressed me out further.
I got the idea that I would invest my money in stocks. Stocks….they friggin’ BAFFLE me. I couldn’t tell you how to get started or what the heck it means, but I know that putting just $250 aside in some form of investment would make me feel like I’m making progress. It would challenge me, not simply put a few extra dollars in my account in the way a second job would. I know what would come (for me) in getting a second job….more hours, but more taxes paid, more stress juggling the two jobs between travel and personal time and very little growth.
I’m willing now, to do something I’ve never done, to get something I’ve never had…and who knows- I may not end up investing in stocks, I might invest somewhere else, but it was something I had never thought of doing and I’m finally open to it. It’s to the point now, where my career and financial anxiety is so bad (since I don’t have the career “gimme” I thought I had), that I’d rather pull the trigger and take a risk now, than to sit in this state for another month, another year, another moment and watch my money slowly be used up just to sustain a life I hate without putting up a good fight.
I’ll keep you posted on what I decide on. I’ve seen advertisements for Betterment.com, a nearly “stock portfolios for dummies” kind of service, or maybe I’ll go it alone. Thoughts?
All I know, is that I have no idea anymore what to do with myself but I know I just need to start moving away from this place I’m at now…..far, far away from the nuclear fallout that was to be my career in academics. I’ll take what I’ve learned and start doing some defining….and I’m going to drop some dollars. Oh yes…it’s on.