Lately, I've found myself at the crossroads of where I am versus where I want to be in my life. I've been rethinking the ambitions that have defined my adult life, questioning what fits and what does not. I want a life that is full but not overwhelming, and that is a surprisingly hard balance to strike.
I spent much of my early twenties consumed with this idea of "having it all." I wanted to be able to stay-at-home, fully indulging in loving motherhood, while still showing my kids that I could simultaneously be a powerful force in the career of my choosing. I saw other women doing it, and thought, why not me? I didn't know where my boundaries or priorities should be set, but surely I'd figure it out.
Then I started becoming terrified when my writing hustle was not enough to produce a paycheck. I was pitching and querying left and right and couldn't land a single job. Hell, I barely landed a single paid article. I took on a stressful workload which produced no results, and the feelings of insecurity and ineptitude that built over that time were immeasurable. I would ignore housework and meal planning and all else to write dispassionate articles for sites that weren't interested. Then the feeling of failure in both motherhood and my career left me short on patience with my family. It was a vicious cycle.
I'd like to say I came away from it on my own, but truthfully, life had to rip me away from it kicking and screaming. I was "fired" from one of my only (yet still unpaid) regular blogging gigs in the midst of my second miscarriage. I oscillated between hurt and rage over both things, because each seemed like the pinnacle of failure in the two most important aspects of my life.
It was then that I stopped writing. I stopped hustling. I just stopped. I took deep breaths and tried to force myself outside every day for fresh air. I stopped adding to the noise of the world and simply listened for a while.
Eventually, I decided to come back. But everything looked different when I returned. The things that had seemed so important before - the money, the following, the recognition, the success - didn't have such a hold on me anymore. I started writing fiction again. I worked on building a new and authentic blog that would be a source of happiness for me. And when things didn't go exactly as planned with my four day a week posting schedule, I gave myself grace and let it slide. It's not like the world is clamoring for my words, and even if it was, they're my words to dole out when I'm ready.
I don't know if it's the shift towards minimalism in my life, or the slow pace of late pregnancy, or simply a part of creeping ever closer to my 30s, but I've been reevaluating many of my life goals - putting away the dreams that do not light my fire anymore. It's not necessarily that I have lost ambition in my writing or otherwise, but rather that I've realized how silly it was to "want it all." As I focus on wanting less in my life, it is starting to take on meaning beyond the physical burden of material objects. I need the things I do to bring me joy and peace, and that doesn't necessarily translate into fame or fortune or page-views.
I want quality over quantity in all areas of my life.
My book is taking longer than I anticipated, because the words simply aren't inspired at the moment. It's all right. I will chip away at it until it is finished, and it will be something I am proud to put out in the world. I will write at the pace that produces something beautiful, because that is what is important to me.
My kids still aren't sleeping through the night, and soon I'll have another who won't sleep through the night either. They don't eat the nutritious pinterest-inspired meals I make them, and they don't eat the junk food I throw at them either. It's all right. I will put food in front of them and tuck them into bed at regular intervals and remember that someday, eventually they will eat and sleep.
Instead of focusing on the minutia of good routine, I will love them where they are. I will try my hardest to remember that this season will not last forever. That this is a precious time that will soon become memory, because that is what is important.
My life and the way I feel about these things, they will change. There will be times to follow my passions to a fruitful outcome, and there will be time when my life will be consumed by simple tasks. I think I'll forever dance between that line of too much and too little, ever shifting my priorities to fit my needs and my family's needs. Some days I'll get it right and many days I won't, and that's all right.
I'll try to find the places my dreams and goals fit along the hopefully long span of life ahead of me, keeping in mind that life is longer and shorter than it seems. There may not be a time to "have it all," but there is time enough to have many experiences and accomplishments that will add up to a beautiful life.
I don't know that I'll ever find the balance I'm looking for. But I hope I can keep enough perspective to enjoy the imperfect place I land at the end of each day. I hope that the journey, and not the destination, will be the thing that brings me joy.