The Waffler At 40

Between vacation and work being a bit slow, I’ve had too much time to think lately. Aside from reading novels and half the internet, I’ve been considering my next educational move. One of the bonuses that came with my new job is the possibility of going back to school.

I can’t do this immediately, which is part of the problem, because now it is hanging over my head like a big juicy orange carrot. I can practically taste the crunchy sweetness. I daydream about the wonderful stress of struggling to complete readings and assignments on time while I balance a full time job and being a mom to two kids.

I turned 40 last year and started to feel the urgency (even more) of the question “What do I want to do with my life?” Like so many of the good people in publishing, I never set out to make it a career. Which is pretty silly, considering the fact that I started out with two related undergraduate degrees and I’ve been working in publishing for going on 18 years. It reminds me of something my dad said once: “Find a good job you hate, and stick with it the rest of your life.”

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not dissatisfied with my new job, and I fully intend to stick with it for the foreseeable future. But I also intend to take advantage of that educational benefit at some point. I had planned to wait until Rory was old enough for preschool, but then the obsessing started, and I keep feeling the need to do something.

What the “something” needs to be is figuring out where to go from here. I tried that book What Color Is Your Parachute? before and I kind of hated it. All that introspection just drove me batty. I can see the value of it. But I didn’t have time to sit down and churn through the book in a week or a month. I was taking my time poking along, as one does when one is constantly distracted by “get me a glass of milk” and “play with me” and “put me to bed,” and I started to realize that the answers I diligently wrote out a month ago for exercise A no longer applied, and now it was time to build on that for exercise B, which was screwed because now it was inauthentic and outdated.

I’m in a weird place of my own making, and while I wouldn’t have it any other way, it does complicate things. I waited until I was older to have kids for a very good reason: I wasn’t ready to have kids in my 20s. I did go back to school in my 20s and I very much enjoyed getting my master’s in liberal studies, but it was for my own enrichment, and didn’t go very far toward answering that million-dollar “What do I want to do with my life?” question.


Does anyone actually answer that question, or is everyone just bumbling along like me? After feeling stuck for so long at my old job, now I feel a bit like an indoor cat who has finally dashed out the door and doesn’t know which direction to run toward first. Hopefully not straight into a passing car.

I do have some leads, and I think I need to focus my energy into taking some baby steps toward exploring those leads. But the “hurry up and wait” part is hard, and sometimes I feel like there are so many obstacles: taking more time away from my kids when I feel like I’m missing all the good stuff, taking financial risk when I’m the only one working, and of course, committing to something only to realize it was yet another passing obsession.

I think my 2018 mantra needs to be “I’m good for now.”






4 thoughts on “The Waffler At 40

  1. I’m right there with you Iz. I turn 40 this year and still have no clue what I want to be when I grow up. I started to go back to school last year, but during the first week I sat down and looked at the assignment and decided, nah I’m good for now.


    1. I did find out today that I can possibly take a class here and there without committing…or applying to a program. I’m going to look into that. It could hold me over for a while at least.


  2. I’d like to comment, but I need to do that privately in an email. 🙂 Do you have a new email address?? Mine is still the same. 🙂


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