This post was written back in November, it’s the journal entry that started the blog.
On turning 30.
Today is my 30th birthday; the months leading up to this have been an intense time of introspection and self-reflection for me. The irony is that I’m naturally introverted, at some level I am always reflecting inwards.
I thought I had it bad when, at 25, I hit my “quarter-life crisis.” My friends and I all commiserated about what a difficult age that was; our careers still in their incubation phase, college not long enough past to be a faint memory, and the real world of bills transitioning from exciting independence to scary reality. I still think that 25 was a tough birthday, but it didn’t inspire the level of profound questioning that I’ve gone through for my 30th.
Who am I? What do I want to do?
At 30, I’m ready to face the fact that I’m probably not going to be rich. I don’t have the desire or qualifications to be a CEO, and it would take me years -if not decades- to reach a six-figure income doing the job that I currently have. This realization has been freeing. If I’m never going to make much money, then what is it that’s determining my career path?
I work a desk job, in a field that I have somewhat started to build a resume in. I pushed myself and moved from working in a semi-legitimate for-profit university Registrar Office, to a job in a different department of a high ranked public state school. I made sacrifices to get here, and I did it knowing that this wasn’t necessarily a final destination – but merely a stepping-stone in my path.
As I look at my life right now, it doesn’t make me happy. It doesn’t satisfy me in a way that compensates for the low paycheck and horrible boss. My generation has gotten some flak for having unrealistically high expectations, especially of our careers. I think the description was that we expect not only a green lawn, but a green lawn with flowers and unicorns. I want to be happy, and if that is a unicorn, well then I want my damn unicorn.
Jumping off the cliff, figuratively of course.
Knowing that I want to make a change, and making a good change are two very different beasties. I have rushed head first into many things in my life and the one bit of wisdom that has started percolating through my thick skull is: take a step back and think about it. This nugget of wisdom isn’t for everyone, and in many ways I’m adding a corollary to it. Take a step back and think about it; if you still want it, then take the plunge and give it a shot.
All of this leads to the fork in my path, that little dirt trail that I’m stepping off the highway for. I love animals, I love sustainable farming, I want to be a farmer. I’m college educated, suburb-raised, and what I would consider fairly normal… and I want to try a completely non-traditional career. The deciding moment was when I realized that I might try farming and fail, but if I don’t try farming then it will always be that thing I regret.
I’ve been married and divorced, and while I struggle with the fallout of my divorce, I don’t regret my life experiences. I went back to school and earned a teaching credential, then spent a year as a high school teacher and decided that wasn’t for me. I am okay with trying something and knowing that it isn’t a for-sure, answer to all my questions and dreams, life decision.
I can wax philosophically about the potholes of my generation, about the moral and ethical reasons that I believe in local agriculture, or about the fundamental flaws in the current American lifestyle. Maybe I’ll write about all of these things eventually, but for now I’m more interested in the who-what-where-when-why of my own life – hoping that maybe I’m not the only one facing these daunting questions.