Before we even start, let me preface by saying that I am NOT unhappy exactly or am going through a quarter-life crisis. Just reflecting.
There comes a point in life where I think many of us hit that moment of, “Wait. Is this what I want to be doing?” and we’re left with that weird feeling of doubt. It’s in those moments, whether it happens quickly or it’s a slow build over the course of months or years, that you wonder where that career plan or life path slowly started going in a direction different than what you originally desired or expected.
Sometimes that phase lasts for a bit and then, poof! it’s gone. For others, it’s like a constant itch that can’t be scratched. A bug in the back of the brain. A knowledge of something is different but not knowing exactly what to do about it.
Currently, I feel like I’m in the “itch” stage of life. I have been in the classroom teaching for the past 5 years, have been through many years of training, degrees and learning to be where I am at in my career, have taught every grade from K-12 and many different subjects within those different grades but…. That itch still persists. Even with the ongoing training I still receive and the learning that continues on a day-to-day basis, I just can’t shake the feeling of, “Is this right?” I keep thinking, maybe when I teach this subject to this level? Or maybe at a different school? Or maybe this other combination that I have not tried before?
There comes a point when I have to just stop. For those that are list-makers like me, you can probably relate to what I find myself doing next, the old classic pros and cons list to help guide my thoughts. What I came up with is not surprising to me, there are very clear and rather equal things I like and dislike on both sides, leaving me with the “now what?” that keeps reverberating in my ears.
Do we keep doing something we know we are “able to” and “good at” doing even though there is a part of us that is not fully content?
Or do we choose to listen to that small part of us that is calling out for attention, for some kind of change, even if it means that accepting to listen to it may lead us to a land of unknown?
If you were hoping to read this and get a clear step-by-step guideline for your future, I have to apologize. You see, what I have gathered so far in my own current journey towards direction is that we are not the only ones in this equation.
So much of the time we are convinced that the pressure and decision-making falls on our own shoulders. We feel like we were the ones to choose a path, and we’re the ones who have to sustain and maintain it. No. Matter. What. We feel like we are “failing” if our desires change, if we change our minds, or if we are unhappy. We feel like WE are the ones controlling it all. But you see, it’s that cycle of “we” and that pressure we put on ourselves that is weighing us down and not allowing us to listen and gain the insight we so desire.
This is a season of life where I am learning to listen. Guys, this is hard. I have always been a major doer and extremely task-oriented and achievement-focused. Days off are gold if I have checked everything off the list, professional and personal, even though my soul still feels tired and busy. I am learning right now that the key to figuring out what that voice is saying is to actually stop and, you guessed it, LISTEN.
I started a journal at the beginning of this January (as in 1 month ago), AND I AM ALREADY HALFWAY THROUGH WRITING IN IT. About what??? About what I think I am hearing, my prayers, thoughts, desires, what I think God wants me to do and how I can still be useful in this season of not loving where I am at but still wanting to be 100% present.
What I have realized so far is that there is something stirring in me. There’s something in the works that I am not fully aware of but I can be expectant and hopeful. I can tune my ears to listen in to the things that excite me, to those passions that are within me. BUT, I can still be engaged in where I am and what I am doing now. Knowing something is ahead does not give me a license to check out and disengage, rather, it allows me to look at things in the light of I may not be doing this exact thing again in the future so I better soak it up.
Yes, saying that and living it are very different things, but I have experienced the awesome shift in perspective and freedom that has been the result of accepting, of acknowledging that something is happening even though I do not know what it is, but, living this particular season with intentionality knowing that the next season will look different.
What does that mean to you? I would encourage you (whether currently content or discontent) to stop. Listen. Write. Reflect. What things are bubbling up inside of you that gives you life and excitement and makes you feel like YOU when you do it? If you do not even know where to begin, talk to someone who is close to you and you might be surprised of what they say.
We are not failures if we desire more than what we are presently living. Rather, this is the beauty of you and I. We were made to create, made to contribute in our own unique way. But, in order to know how to contribute, we have to know what things give us life and were placed inside of each of us by someone more intelligent, strategic and creative than we could ever be.
So take hope, if you’re like me and do not know what to do when you’re not where you want to be, this is not forever. This is an exciting place of expectancy and waiting. Of discovering and listening more, of giving up the false idea that we hold everything together, and to wait in hope KNOWING that we are a part of something bigger.