Why is it we panic when we realize next year is a “milestone” birthday? Shouldn’t all birthdays be milestones? “Hey, you survived another year … yay you! Have some cake!” When the realization sets in you’ll enter into a new decade next year, it’s like your mind goes into flight or fight mode. You either want to hold on to your current decade as long as humanly possible, or realize you didn’t do your bucket list, so you set sail with guns blazing. I happen to fall into the latter category.
When I turned 29 (10 years ago), my panic set in and I ended up signing up and training for a marathon. Why go on a tropical vacation when you can run 26.2 tortuous miles (and yes, you feel every step of that .2 mile)? Sounds like tons of fun, right? Surprisingly at the time, it was. Until my joints decided to become assholes and stage a revolt — resulting in multiple doctors telling me that if I wanted to have a knee replacement by the time I was 40, then to keep it up. Otherwise, I needed to stop.
This past month, I turned 39. I’m happy to report that I have NOT had knee replacement surgery, although I seem to have gained a rather stubborn schnitzel and beer baby in my mid-section. Hazard of living in Germany for two years, I suppose. But once that 3-8 turned to 3-9, my panic button was pushed. Rather than sign up for a marathon, I signed up to steer my life into a different direction. I attempted to cut carbs (which last all of 30 seconds) and work out (walking to Starbucks to inhale a latte counts, right?). Most notably though, I changed direction professionally.
I loved my job. I loved being a writer-editor. If I didn’t have to move, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this blog post on my day off. I would be in my office at work. However, life being wonderfully surprising as it is, shifted and changed. We moved, but somehow, I felt like I wasn’t completely here. I was given the rare opportunity to work from home, and it seemed like a perfect solution. I got to keep my job, attend meetings in pajamas if I wanted, and still live in the U.K. I was super grateful for the chance, and it worked for awhile … until it didn’t.
When you remove yourself from the physical office, you begin to see things from a different perspective — in a more realistic and raw way. I became more of a fixer and a firefighter than a writer, which I know comes with the territory of any job. I loved the team I worked with, but couldn’t shake the feeling that my clock was ticking. Being a writer is something that I always wanted. Yet, I walked away. And it terrified me.
I took a job that pays less, and challenges me. It encompasses many skill sets that I possess, but have never been able to mesh together until now. And I love it. The new team I work with is just as amazing as my last, and understands that there’s a bit of a learning curve. I’ll admit that I’m scared to death that I am going to suck. But I knew I couldn’t stay where I was, and it was the right decision. I now have both of my feet firmly planted in the U.K.
So for my year before the next big one, I’m trying something new. Because even if I suck at it, I can say I tried. And there’s no time like now to try.