Now What?

May 7, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Posted in Moving On., My life, Stuff Outta My Head, The End of Trying | 6 Comments

There’s a voice in my head, all the time. It constantly asks me the following questions.

Now what? What are you going to do NOW, Serenity? You have no PLAN. What next? What are we going to DO?

I am not certain I realized the extent to which I have these thoughts until recently. Because, well, there’s always been something to focus on. For years now, I’ve had a focus. School, then college, then getting a job, then graduate school, then getting married, then getting a house, then starting a family, then adding to our family.

For as much as I loathed the Fail of treatments, I always had a Plan. Even when we were on a break, there was some other focus. A marathon during the break, then I’ll figure out what to do next. More fail? Okay, ANOTHER marathon, maybe this time with a BQ!

And then we stopped treatment – really ended it.

Finding myself in the here and now, without My Next, means that my mind works overtime A LOT.

I read somewhere once – I wish I could remember where – that the mind grabs onto problems and hangs onto them like a dog who doesn’t want to relinquish its bone.

In the vacuum created by stopping treatments, it’s like my mind cannot handle having nothing to do. And even though I’m telling it calm down, we’re just going to sit with stillness and live without a Plan for a bit, and isn’t it fun and empowering to go with the flow for now?

It wants nothing to do with it.

So what’s been happening is that I’ve either created drama (aka, the freakout the other day)… or I find myself struggling with anxiety. I feel like I should be doing a million things. I need to write lists. I start to think about my career and what it means that I don’t love my job. I start down the path of thinking that maybe I should start researching adoption. I make my plans for more marathons and training cycles, maybe a 50k or a 50 miler, or maybe I should try and focus on getting faster in shorter races before I add more longer races to my calendar? Hrm, let’s do some research, Serenity, and figure it out!

Really, I’m incredibly bad at sitting with things and not making decisions right now because there’s no need to make a decision.

I always knew I was Type A, but I really didn’t see the depths to which I NEED to have movement. And I have this sense: If I’m always jumping from thing to thing, task to task, milestone to milestone, how can I be happy in the here and now?

So I’m resisting it. Whenever I feel that anxiety, that need to move, or have a plan, or look ahead, I tell myself we’re just going to sit here for a bit.

It’s incredibly uncomfortable. It offers me no escape. It is forcing me to look honestly at myself. I’m not sure I like what I see, but then again, I’m not sure I’m seeing the whole picture, either.

But I think it’s part of why I’m having a hard time writing. Because I’m uncomfortable, and I don’t really trust my ideas about my life and plans and career and marriage.

I don’t think I’m as unhappy as my mind is trying to make me be. Because if I am happy, then what is there else to DO? There is no next then. It just all IS.

I don’t know; this probably isn’t making much sense. But I had to write it down.

If I start putting this into words, maybe, just maybe, I can find some way to free myself from the anxiety and fail and need to go and do more.



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  1. This makes perfect sense. I think lots of us reach this point in our lives and start to panic, because we realize that, until we retire, there are no more major milestones to achieve. And this is IT. And it occurs to us that all those things that we thought would finally help us achieve happiness actually DIDN’T, and that happiness is really all in our heads- we really do have to choose it. I hate the term ‘midlife crisis’- it sounds terrible- but the term really does perfectly describe this state of mind. I wish I had some formula describing how to just BE, but I’m struggling with many of the same thoughts. Some days are really good, but other days are awful. The only good news here is that you really aren’t alone- I’ve talked to so many women- even women who really did achieve absolutely everything they set out to achieve- and they feel that sense of restlessness, too. Sending love, hun. Xoxo

  2. I have written about this A LOT. It REALLY freaks me out. I think this is why people have midlife crises, because they just need to DO something, and freak out and buy a new car is something, at least. I think for me, I’m going to look seriously at my job and try to change something there. I hope I don’t make the wrong decision just because I feel like I need to make A change. I’d hate to end up less happy than I was to begin with.

    I think about happiness at my job a lot, and wonder what it’s even supposed to look like. My sister is a quintessential “Millennial” in that she believes her job should simultaneously (1) pay her good money, (2) not require much of her time (or at least not on a rigid schedule, (3) allow her to do something she is passionate about, (4) teach her skills she can later use at an even better job that will do all these things even more! It drives me crazy–doesn’t she realize how many people would kill for a good job? And she’s always pointing out how annoying it is that her boss thinks she should be in the office for a full eight hours, or how she’s not learning EXACTLY what she wants to learn, it’s like she thinks her job should be teaching her exciting and applicable new skills, while also paying her. Does she not remember that school generally COSTS money?!

    And yet, here I am, going round and round about whether or not I even “like” teaching and what it would look like if I did like teaching and what I should do if I end up not liking teaching. On the one hand I don’t want to throw away a career I worked hard for. On the other hand I don’t want to waste my life doing something that doesn’t make me happy.

    But are our jobs supposed to make us happy? I don’t know.

    (Sorry for the rant, I’m not sure what came over me.)

    I commend you for sitting with that feeling. I KNOW how hard that it. It’s excruciating. Truly. But I think the more we do it, the easier it becomes. Or maybe we just get used to it. It’s amazing what sitting with our discomfort, without judging it, or trying to change it, can do for us. It’s transformative. But it’s also really f***ing hard. So hard. I suppose most things that are transformative don’t come easy.

  3. Have I mentioned that you are channelling my thoughts? Crikey, could have written these words myself. I, like you, just do not know how to deal with this scenario.

  4. It’s like you are inside my head, only a few months further down the road. Seriously. Because I am looking at a PhD defense in the fall and (most likely) the End of Trying, and I really, REALLY do not know what I am going to do with myself when the doctorate and attempts at family building, which have both been the focus of my existence for over six years now, are gone. Except I know already I am not going to cope with it well.

    Please keep writing it out. You are an inspiration to me in your willingness to examine why you feel the way you do, and what you can do to change your thought patterns. I feel like reading your blog helps me understand myself.

    I don’t know as humans if we’re designed to be good at sitting in the here and now. We needed to be able to look ahead in order to survive. I wonder if it would ease your anxiety (and help relax your Type A side) to do have some goals, but not ones that are requiring you to be constantly learning/doing something new/more. Could you make some loose goals for travelling as a family? Like choosing a destination in 2015 that you’d really like to go to? Give yourself something to look forward to, and work towards?

    Total assvice, I know, but I know I would not be able to cope with not having any goals or anything to plan towards. But maybe if you make them about your family (whether that’s travel, or house renos, or museum visits, or whatever) rather than about pushing yourself to do more, that would help ease things?


  5. I’m uncomfortable with just being, too. And that’s where I am right now. When I try to write about things around me, I feel uninformed. When I try to write about my life, I feel insignificant. Yes, there’s the house buying crisis, but I don’t really want to think or write about that. It’s a strange place to be. I understand, I think.

    My father in law tells me I need lessons in relaxing. He’s an expert … and he makes it look easy. If only!

  6. I like Turia’s idea of making goals about your family, or about fun stuff. I don’t think needing to have goals is necessarily a bad thing, provided you ARE actually happy when you’re working to achieve them. I think it is normal to want to keep moving forward in some way. When day-to-day life is just too stressful, I usually don’t have longer-term goals, so for me, when I start thinking about goals like self-improvement or trips, I take it as a good sign that I’m keeping the day-to-day under control.

    I guess I’m just trying to figure out whether the needing-to-have-a-goal itself is making you unhappy, or whether it’s the sense that it’s wrong to be that way. Because clearly, a lot of people are that way, so I don’t think it’s so bad.

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