It started as a subtle ripple … snippets of conversations with friends near and far about a year ago: though we felt fulfilled in our personal lives (family, kids, etc.), we felt “stuck” in our careers.
In time, it turned into a strong undercurrent, a theme of this stage of our lives that has been bringing us down — not to the point of drowning, but to the point of losing our footing, slipping deeper into the sand, and getting splashed more than we’d like.
It’s not that we don’t love what we do … we do … and, in this challenging economy, we feel blessed to be gainfully employed.
But in spite of years of trying to get ahead and leave our mark, we’ve hit the collective point where we realize — in spite of being told we can achieve anything, do anything, be anything — we don’t necessarily want to reach for that Holy Grail: the glass ceiling.
It’s not that we want to throw in the towel and stop working … we love what we do and still want to work. The thing is, we feel like what we’re doing isn’t going to leave its mark.
Our God-given talents — creative writing, crafting, music, poetry, painting, photography, pottery, knitting, caring for and fostering animals, running races, mentoring young children — are what make us happy. They are our passion projects. But though these passion projects bring out our best, with the demands of marriage, children, work, and home-ownership … those passion pursuits often fall to the wayside, or are treated as “side projects.” As “side hustles.”
We squeeze them in when we can, feeling fulfilled for a little bit only to be brought down to reality when a baby cries or the oven beeps as dinner is done. Our passion projects are equated to a one-night stand now … instant gratification but not the necessarily the lasting commitment we want.
We find ourselves in this mid-30s crisis where we don’t know where exactly we belong. We’re not interested in exiting the workforce … we either love our jobs or we have to work to support our families. But for many individual reasons, we’re also not propelling our careers with the gusto we might have had in our late 20s.
We know we enjoy the satisfaction that comes from leadership, collaboration, creativity, risk-taking — we thrive off this on a daily basis. But we don’t want to quit our daydreams, either, because it’s those dreams that excite and inspire us.
It’s the mid-30s conundrum.
I don’t pretend to have the answers … but I do know this: the best solution is to keep chipping away at those daydreams and make them a reality. No matter how long they may take.
So ladies … don’t quit your daydreams.