It's happening again. I feel like the little girl in the movie Poltergeist, with her hands on the TV, saying, "They're heee-eerr." In the movie, the girl didn't want them to come, but she knew it was inevitable. That's how I feel.
In July of 2017, I started my new/old job with the company I had worked with before (when I owned a franchise through them). Dogs! I work in the dog training industry. How awesome is that?! I get to travel and assist our franchise locations across the country. I design curriculum and make big and small decisions that affect the growth and development of the company. I am well-liked, well-respected and successful.
And I work from home. 'Nuff said. What a dream that has been! Amazing. You should try it.
I ditched my plans of becoming a life coach and part-time backpacking guide in favor of this secure, awesome, well-paid job where my itches would be scratched by an industry I am passionate about, plus travel opportunities and a flexible schedule that would allow me to hike a lot. And yet I'm still SO itchy. Maybe even itchier than before.
I'm not fulfilled like I thought (hoped) I would be. Not at all. I'm still pining for something different. Will I ever find happiness in my current state, no matter what my current state is? I really SHOULD be happy. Am I just incapable of finding a career that doesn't make me daydream about something more, something else? Will NOTHING ever make me happy? Is this just who I am? Or, am I just not listening to my heart and soul and only listening to my mind?
The venerable Brene Brown once wrote, "I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I'm not screwing around. It's time." She further wrote, "Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can't live the rest of your life worried about what other people will think."
Those words speak to me. I'm 40 now. Forty is still young, but old enough, I believe, to have found a fulfilling career. Yet I am STILL unable to find a career that brings me joy. I'm not an idiot. I know that all jobs have their ups and downs. But working behind a desk and using my brain to solve problems, brainstorm the future and work on major projects just doesn't seem to cut it for me. My brain is never 100% focused on my job. At least 1% of it (and usually more) is focused on the Great Outdoors. And I feel like, as Brene wrote, time is now running out.
I spend all of my free time reading outdoorsy magazines, reading gear reviews (even for gear I already own or gear I don't need), talking to friends and online "friends" about trips they took, trips they'll take, trips I'm taking, trips I want to take. I fantasize about being a backpacking guide in the style of the Trail Mavens or a writer for Backpacker magazine. I'm currently injured, or normally this list would also include spending lots of my spare time actually IN the outdoors, too.
I have four Instagram accounts and three corresponding Facebook pages, all dedicated to creating outdoorsy communities and fostering a love for the outdoors. One is specifically geared towards featuring midlifers who spend their free time in the outdoors. I want to start a podcast for that as well - just to focus on the 40+ year old adventurous folks out there. Plus I have two blogs (that I don't get to spend enough time on). But the itch is still there, perhaps made worse by my wading into a world I want to cannonball into. Yet, those things aren't my job and finding time to focus on them is hard.
Although people like to say cavalierly, "Follow your dreams! Do it! Make the changes! Change your life! Do what makes you happy!", there are things that can (and should) hold one back. Without going into all the details and excuses for why I can't just up and make major changes in my career, suffice it to say, those barriers are aplenty and they are legit and they are real. I'm getting kind of sick of the old, "You can do anything, if you just put your mind to it," mantra.
Other people like to say, "You have a great life! Find happiness within. Appreciate what you have. Practice gratitude. Suck it up like the rest of us unhappy souls!" Yeah, well, I've tried. I'm trying. But it's not working for me. Maybe for some people, this style of living is an option. And many people CAN find happiness with what they've already got even when not everything is ideal. But for whatever reason, my brain doesn't work that way. I love my life in so many ways, but I am unfulfilled professionally and that, for whatever reason, has a major impact on me and my psyche.
I sometimes think: if I weren't such a strong person with solid coping skills, I would be suffering from depression right now. I hope that doesn't belittle people living with depression. I don't mean it to sound flippant. I just feel like I'm constantly pushing back depression, and successfully thus far.
This job was supposed to solve my problems, or at least solve enough of them that professional happiness would be mine (with weekend adventures taking up the slack). It failed. I've failed myself once again. And now I've dug deeper into my hole and have further to go to climb out.