Friends, I need your help.
I’m at a bit of a crossroads, and I’m not sure what to do.
I feel a little bit like I’ve spent the last twelve years of my life holding my breath.
Don’t get me wrong – personally I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I love my children, I love my husband, I love our family.
Professionally, however, I’m stuck.
Twelve years ago, I went through a bit of a life crisis. I was in graduate school, studying theoretical linguistics and working toward a master’s degree in phonetics. I spent my days teaching college freshmen the basics of language and parsing vocal recordings of some of the last speakers of an ancient form of Mixtec. In the midst of all of this, I suffered a bit of a personal betrayal, and a good portion of my idealistic academic belief system flew out the window. I no longer cared about knowledge for knowledge’s sake. All I could think about was getting as far away from that world as possible.
The world was an ugly and lonely place, and I wanted something steady and reliable to counteract that reality. I wanted a paycheck and a roof over my head. I craved stability. I didn’t want to postulate or theorize anymore.
So for six years, I worked in retail management. And for six years after that, I worked in non-profit fundraising. And I did a good job. But it wasn’t my passion.
Three weeks ago, I did a scary thing. I took a risk for the first time in a really long time. I gave notice at my current job without having anything lined up to take its place. I was able to do this because of the stability I have in my personal life, but it’s still a little bit frightening.
You see, taking risks is not something I do very well. I’ve been taught my whole life to hedge my bets, to always have a backup plan. Not knowing what I want to do when I grow up? At 36? With two small children? Is terrifying.
Do you watch Parenthood? I had a chance to catch up on this past Wednesday’s episode this morning, and I found myself (once again) identifying with Lauren Graham’s character. She’s working as a bartender, and goes to talk to the owner about becoming a manager in the hopes that it will help stabilize her life. She, too, is trying to figure out what she wants to do when she grows up.
At the same time, she has written something that she feels pretty good about, and wants her romantic interest (Jason Ritter’s character, who also happens to be her daughter’s English teacher) to read it. She gets up the courage to take it to him, but at the last minute tries to chicken out because she’s not sure it’s good enough. He convinces her to let him read it, and she reluctantly leaves it with him, all the while muttering self-deprecating things under her breath.
When he returns it to her, she immediately launches into an apologetic diatribe, assuming he’s going to give her some generic praise, but in the end is going to reveal that it’s no good.
This is where I felt like I was watching myself. Watching this woman squirm, automatically assuming that nothing she does is quite good enough, always afraid that she’s not quite going to measure up. I know that feeling. I know that fear of wanting to try something new, but not knowing how or where to start.
And when he reveals that he loved it, and he calls her a playwrite? I cried. The look of shock and surprise and disbelief on her face was priceless. And then to watch it melt into relief and maybe even a little bit of pride? I hope to have that reaction to someone’s praise one day.
I hope to find that one thing that I’m good at that also fulfills me on some base level.
And I’m working on it. You’ve probably noticed, if you read this blog on a regular basis, that I’m passionate about food and feeding my family well. And that I’m also interested in encouraging others to do the same. And that I like to write about it.
Not sure how to translate that into a job, or a career, but there it is. I’m taking the plunge. I’m putting it out there in the universe, and hoping that I’ll figure it out soon. I’m hoping that the risk pays off in the end.
As for you, friends? Positive thoughts would be helpful. Good vibes sent my way would be appreciated. I feel really good about this decision, but I’m also really nervous about what the future holds. And in case I haven’t said it recently – I really do value each and every person who reads this blog. Your feedback and comments make my day. And if you read and don’t comment? That’s okay too – I’m just glad you stopped by.
As for the food – I’m still cooking and still sharing that with you here. In fact, here’s a yummy pizza we had the other night. I had some lovely rainbow chard from our produce box that I needed to use, so I shredded it up and put it on top of the pizza. And it was wonderful. Letting it get a little too brown (charred chard) made it even better.
For a printable recipe of this Charred Chard Pizza, click here.