Last March I stepped off the time line, so to speak, the one that has life all neatly defined by the succession of big events.
For example, go to high school, graduate, go to college, graduate, mental breakdown, invest in the chosen career field, meet “the one”, get married, buy a house, have kids, etc. Well perhaps not in that specific order but you get the idea.
Then one day you turn 30 and if you don’t have some of these events marked down go ahead and insert another “mental breakdown.” To be fair many of my friends are somewhere along this path and doing great, have wonderful lives, which is marvelous.
However, I stepped off sometime during “invest in chosen career field.” The way I see it the timeline is like a conveyor belt, an endless treadmill, or a moving sidewalk and now I am standing next to it, stagnant and staring.
It felt like the right thing to do, so I pressed pause on my career and changed my title to “body guard of smaller humans.”
I am a nanny. Some days it’s glorious, some days lonely.
Recently, I was sitting on the beach in the middle of the afternoon (perks of being a body guard), the air has begun to hint at fall, the sunshine was warm, and I was tearing through the latest book that had arrived the day before. I looked up from my reading and around me; all the people currently on the beach were retired. Grey hair, reclining in nice beach chairs with matching towels, laughing in between sips of their drinks. But I’m not retired; am I missing something that they all have already experienced? My time line is all messed up I thought, everyone my age is out there hustling and here I am sitting on the beach watching my friend’s lives sail on by.
At times I’ve wondered why I am not the top 5 of a tech company living in New York, or a photographer that captures pure magic? Why don’t I have that husband, who after a long day, runs to get the car parked a half a mile away so his wife can sit on a bench to keep from getting blisters on her tired feet. Why? The list carries on as I observe others, those sweet kids, or that impressive resume. Watching and wondering when is a good time for me to jump back on the conveyor belt?
Back into career work, back into… The thing is I am not sure that I even want to.
I’ve realized that comparing moving sidewalks gets me zero places; it brings me nothing but appreciation for others' beautiful lives, and a little jealousy of their certainty. Just because so many of my friend’s conveyor belts seem to be similar doesn’t mean that mine will be a dead end because it is different.
I’m sure many have felt this exact way. It is a choice to follow your own interests and see where they lead. One that I make often when I am shopping at the grocery store with every stay at home house wife in America, or sitting on the beach of retirees. A choice that says, I want something different, and that, that’s perfectly okay.
Because even if I did step off the endless treadmill, I landed on a different one… One that is entirely my own… Off it heads in an uncertain direction, yet with purpose.
And that too is perfectly okay.