16 June 2010

Crisis of Identity

First, let me say this: I realize how lucky, fortunate, privileged and blessed I am that I get to bitch about such topics. I know there are folks without jobs, folks who can only dream of not having to work, folks who are dying a little inside because they can't quit their jobs and do something different. I get all of that full stop. I get that, to some, this post will be whiny and you all will have every right to be entirely unsympathetic. But since it is my blog, I'm gonna whine about it anyway. Mmkay? So read on at your own risk.

Phew. Now that's out of the way... here's what's on my mind: I don't know who I am or what my direction is anymore. I mean, I know who I am. I'm me, not too different than the me from a year ago or the year before that. My morals and ideals and quirks are all still intact. It's just the direction, the drive, the confidence, the sureness that are gone. I used to know what I wanted to be, I used to be sure that I could attain it, be successful, I used to have confidence that what I was doing was good, I used to be at peace with my career choices because I was doing important things, I was good at it, and I was making money. Shallow? Maybe, but it got me through. Those things got me through a job I didn't always love, a job that stuffed my creativity in a box, and a job where I had maxed out the career ladder after 6 years in.

Now? Now I am a housewife, contributing nothing to the family (money-wise at least), nothing to this world of any real value, and not sure where to go next. I find myself no longer excited about the prospect of reinventing my career...  no, now I find myself terrified into inaction. I've been a bundle of excuses, half-efforts and hesitation. Worse yet? I find myself wholly without confidence in my ability to be successful at anything other than my previous career. And that is a horrible feeling.

For the past few months, I've been stumbling and bouncing back and forth between the world of academia, the world of laboratories and cubicles, the likely careers, the dream careers, and the do-it-myself road. I am without a map, without direction. I am familiar with all these places, yet none of them are home... I feel like a stranger in all of them. Like I don't belong... well, I belong just enough to fit it, but not enough to become one with that place. Like I could fake it and squeak along, roll with the punches, just get by... but never really settle in. I know that keeping my old career means a solid income, it means fulfilling the promise of the degrees I worked so hard for, it means doing something important with my days. But I also know leaving that behind would open the doors to new careers, art, design, photography- creative ventures that I have always longed for... but, in turn, that might mean little to no income, it might mean no one would buy my work or services, it might mean failure on a spectacular level. I have a degree in another field, but no matter what I do I can't get a job there... even though that is probably what would make me happiest. I could go back to school... but for what? To what end? Would that piece of paper entice my confidence into coming home? Somehow I doubt it. It feels like all I have in front of me are mediocre compromises and opportunities for failure.

I guess I just wish I either had it all to do over again or that I could get my mojo back. Since I know that former won't happen unless a time machine shows up on our stoop in the morning, I guess the best path is to focus on the things I can change. I just don't know how to find my direction, how to find what the best answer is to a problem that truly has no wrong or right. I could be a money-losing artist and Swiss would be happy if I was happy. But I don't know if never bringing money into the household, not being a success would crush my spirit (I suspect it would) and render me unhappy. I fear (read: know) I need those things to feel like I'm doing something with my life. Maybe that is the issue. Maybe my self-worth is too closely tied to conventional measures of success. Maybe the success is me loving what I do... and maybe me loving what I do will translate into my work and bring the conventional trappings of success along with them. Then again, that is probably a bunch of delusional swill.

But it is late, my mind is already too full of half-thoughts, outlandish ideas, and doomsday scenarios... and I'm keeping the dog awake. Perhaps morning will bring clarity, confidence and mojo back my way (can anyone recommend some sort of fairy/elf/sorceress who deals in these things?). Perhaps not. But maybe, just maybe, talking about this and figuring out what the real crux of the issue is will get me there too. In any event, thanks for listening.


liberal army wife said...

I can tell you all the platitudes, I can tell you over and over that you are capable of so much, that it's important to do what makes you happy, that money isn't everything... blah blah yadda yadda. But right now, that's not going to help. And I sure can't offer you any advice, it would be awfully dumb of me when I'm doing the same thing here. Why we can't find jobs in what we want to do, why we have to "make do"... mystery here too.


Hilary Jacobs said...

Aw Tucker you're tortured!!! And I think you may be my future!! But seriously you are so gifted from the little I know. And if you are tired of your old career, you owe yourself a chance to investigate what is out there. I am a big believer in the life that the answers often find us, if we quiet ourselves for a bit. xoI'm here if you need to chat.

Anonymous said...

I totally understand how you feel! We're PCS-ing soon and I've already applied to the junior college there... at nearly 28 years old. If I could go back to my first go at college, I'd give my leg to do it. I feel like such a failure for figuring it out SO LATE. But, then I think the standard of figuring out your life by 22 is a little screwed up to begin with, and then I feel a little better thinking that.
I've just begun reading your blog, and I think you're pretty intelligent! I think that starting over is a good thing to do because we'll be more dedicated than the "kids" doing it for the first time now. Good luck in your endeavors, and nice to "meet' you.