She has, yet again, had a breakdown and then picked up all the shambles of her life so she can share her thoughts with you

If you were to take the time to scroll back a couple of months on good ol’ SheBlogs SheBlogs you would see that when we moved to Philly I totally lost it and had a serious mental breakdown. Contrary to what I had supposed, when presented with day after day to accomplish all of my life’s goals and dreams, I had absolutely no idea what to do.

So like a foolish little animal with its leg trapped in a cage I struggled and struggled and exhausted all of my energy. When I was completely drained and deranged I started to gnaw my foot off.

I became totally obsessed with trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life. I would pester Eric and say, “Just tell me what I should do, and I’ll do it. Should I go to grad school? Should I go to culinary school? Should I take an art class? JUST TELL ME! WHAT AM I GOOD AT???!!!” All of this spare time made me feel like I needed to take some huge drastic step towards becoming the person I’m supposed to become. Or that I feel like I’m “supposed” to become.

I asked my mom, my sister, my friends, strangers in the elevator, “What should I DO WITH MY LIFE!?”

And shockingly no one told me. Meanwhile I had thought of like a dozen life plans for other people. I was doling them out left and right. Hooking people up with internships, helping them write Grad School Admittance essays, and yet no one seemed to have any answers for the crazy fox!

It wasn’t until I had completely mutilated and mangled myself to a bloody pulp that I realized three things:

1. I was thinking about myself WAY too much and when I do that I become horribly catty and whiny.

2. Not being sure what to do with your life because there are so many options is such a bourgeoisie complaint.

and

3. I don’t have to figure it all out right now.

I think when we’re younger we assume that when we grow up we will know what to do with our lives. And then we are grown up and most of us have no clue what to do. So we go to college and get a degree thinking maybe THEN we’ll know what to do. But then you graduate and even if you are going to be a doctor or a lawyer, or something set like that, you STILL have to choose a direction. You still have to choose a city or a company or an emphasis. And then, yet again, we have to figure out where to go from there. You naively think getting married or having kids will be some sort of solution, but it just complicates things.

I’m sure other people have realized this as well, but like most things in life they are new and novel to you when you experience them. (Which is why bands like Hawthorne Heights and Plain White T’s continue to emerge.) When I was shrieking at my mom, recent “empty nester” with a Master’s degree and huge list of accomplishments, about my dilemma she said, “I’m 55-years-old and I still don’t know what I should do.”

It’s hard to slow down the rat race that is my brain, but in the last couple weeks I’ve managed to do so. I guess I just felt like sharing because I think this is a problem a lot of people have. And if you’re anything like me you might look around at every stranger you pass on the street and think, “They’ve got their life figured out! Why can’t I?!”

As for now I’m following the advice of my father. He always says the only way to figure out what you want to do with your life is to just start doing things. Which I think means not always holding out for the dream job, not waiting to start something until you have every little step planned out, and basically just getting to work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ACTUALLY going to get a part time job or anything, but I’m going to start producing a lot more crap.

I love you all. I hope you all find happiness and love.

I am still, however, taking life plan suggestions. So if you have any, send ’em my way.

Namaste,

Alison

17 Comments

  1. Alexandra

    I think your first plan of action is to come to the Lake.

    (and also, I recently got a library card and it has been life-changing. never bored!)

  2. Patricia

    Every time Amy and I have existential crises, we rely on our go-to plan: move to Seattle and work in Cihuly's glass-blowing factory. You can join us. It's quite relaxing.

    http://www.chihuly.com/

  3. Katie

    This morning I decided I wanted to open up a bed and breakfast that has a little organic farm attached so that I grew almost all the food I served to my guests.

    You can borrow that life plan if you want….just dont come to Colorado to use it.

  4. btw

    alex- i have a library card too. it is so wonderful.

    ali- i hope this new life plan doesn't mean that we wont get to talk on the phone for 5-7 hours each day.

  5. Tim and Sara

    I thought you had already decided to emulate Lady Gaga??? I am still holding out for that one…but in the meantime I would like to share part of my patriarchal blessing with you. In a very public forum. But the message is: Don't get discouraged by comparing yourself to others. It's never helpful. And my message is: I love you!

  6. cropstar

    Thanks for sharing this. I've been in a similar boat for the past few months and decided to just do stop worrying so much and just do things I love. Still not east, but at least I'm spending way less time curled up in a stressed ball of tears trying (once again) to figure out what to do with my life. And wouldn't you know it, I'm happy again.

  7. Amanda

    Yeah, now that I've officially stopped working (my part-time job), I've been wondering what I'll do next. And I'm a Mom. So I guess things never really change once all your kids grow up either. Hmmm. Yeah, I need to pick up a hobby.

    By the way, it was AMAZING to see you last week. I can't wait for another reunion (more Brufords and Faulkners this time) in just a few short weeks!

  8. Kat Green

    That's a universal question! Here's what I did while I was unsuccessfully looking for a job. 1) two paintings. Loads of fun!
    2) idle wandering through the beautiful little crannies of Bellevue.
    3) If I had had a spot to sew, I would have made a bunch of stuff. I didn't, (don't) so I wandered longingly through JoAnn's instead.
    4) Two more A's on two more classes toward my degree.

    (You already have your degree, so you could study anything you please.) You have a spot to sew, right? So you could wander through fabric stores purposefully.

    You like to cook/bake, right? Do you like to plant stuff? I like to buy plants and fiddle with them.

    Just random stuff. But I think the Faulkners are hardwired for diligence. Your worldview is possibly very different from mine. 🙂

    Either way, ya gotta keep blogging. SBSB is the crown jewel of my internet addiction, and now my poor brother is a besotted fan.

  9. Matt and Jennae Porter

    bourgeoisie- I have no clue what that word means. Or how to pronounce it! You are so intellectual.
    I like your dad's advice. A very wise man, indeed.

  10. Kim

    I've totally felt the same way. I think my problem is I always want to be working TOWARDS something, and if I'm not sure what that something is, I have a freak out. I'm working my way through this as well. That said, I'm certainly not the right person to give any advice about "life plans" (as if these silly things exist). But, I can say "best of luck!"

  11. Tiffany

    girlfriend YOU ARE GOOD AT EVERYTHING!! and dont roll your eyes at the comment. i dont think i know another person who is so multi-talented. lets just start with writing, crafting, running, making, loving, creating, befriending.

    i am right there with you though sister on these feelings!!(btw i hope you got my second email, my gmail is being funky and i wasnt sure if it sent) xo

  12. Mike and Kim

    Two kids. Lovely Wife. Graduate Degree. Real, humanitarian job, doing exactly what I wanted to do.

    No idea what I'm doing, or where I'll be next year.

    For most of the people who have populated this planet there hasn't been much of a choice about what to do with their lives, and I would guess this has led to a lot less anxiety about it.

    I suppose we should move to Nigeria.

  13. Emily

    Wait, you aren't going to fullfill your dream and become a floral designer? You were so good at it. 😉

  14. Carollyne

    You're on my daughter's blog, I've never visited yours before, but today I was prompted to – and I know why! It's because I went through this recently when the "nest" emptied – but, I just found an amazing book called Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher – you will identify with it and it will make you feel happy with every word….you and I have this same unique gift of wanting to do so many things and learning so quickly, that we change our life goals/interests/talents as often as others change shoes, but there is hope! Read the book, and good luck, fellow "Scanner". The library card solution that Alex mentioned was actually turning into a curse as I have been taking out 50 plus books at a time for the past 20 years and it has only recently driven me crazy. Boredom is not the problem, cloning myself to do it all is. The basic scanner problem. Too many interests, too many talents, too many choices. But Barbara Sher teaches us how to value that gift and use it. I got mine from – where else, the library!

  15. T.RIPPY

    In the words of Bob Marley, "travel wide." You're young:
    -hot enough to go to nude beaches
    -don't have to tote any screaming babies with you anywhere!

    WORLD HERE YOU COME!

  16. Alison

    Thanks everyone for your support!

    And Carollyne! I'm SOOOOOO excited to check out that book! Because yes, I'm never bored, I just switch life plans every 10 minutes because there are so many things I want to do! Thanks for the tip, I'm all over it.

  17. Alison

    Oh and Emily, I have totally called the flower shop where I used to work and told them that I'm coming back. DON'T WORRY!

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