Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Road Not Taken

Today I found a journal I kept during my last year and a half of college. It describes the most painful breakup I ever had, my subsequent crush on a guy who is now my pastor (I swear it's not weird now), and finally the Happy Ending in which I meet the love of my life--and he was available, not to mention interested in me! But before I met Justin, I was kind of a mess.

When I wasn't moping about my chaotic love life, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for a career. I may have mentioned that I was a little compulsive overconscientious about studying in college? I was a TOTAL nerd who actually made outlines from the lecture notes AND the textbook. I was very good at school. And school was about to be over, and I would have to get a real job, and who would hire me? What type of job should I even apply for? Memorizing lecture notes and filling out scan-trons are not job skills!


My professors encouraged me to go to grad school. I was planning to apply, but then I panicked some more about leaving home (I stayed in my home town for college) and I wasn't sure I would be good enough in the Big Leagues. I was writing an application paper that could have been a master's thesis instead of just picking a paper I'd gotten an A on and sending it in. Pretty soon I'd freaked myself out so badly that I stopped sleeping for days. It only ended when I called my dad at three a.m. and said tearfully, "Dad? I don't want to go to grad school."

My half-asleep dad, who had never said I had to go to grad school, said, "Okay." I don't know if I slept that night, but I felt better. Until I realized I had to get a job.

But then I taught high school in a private school, met Justin and got married, and the rest is history.

But it might not have happened the way it did. Reading that journal today, when I got to the parts about what I was studying and writing, the thought popped into my head, "I should have been a professor." I've known for a long time that my brain is suited for academia. That doesn't mean that's all my brain can do, of course--just that it's one option I could have taken, and didn't. I did eventually go to grad school for a year and a half before I had Miss Pink. I'm glad I went, because at least I know exactly what I didn't choose, and I almost never regret it. It takes a long time to get a Ph.D. and then I'd have to publish or perish (figuratively--it means that you have to publish articles and books in your field if you want job security), and by then I would've had kids anyway. And lots of good things have happened to me because I didn't stay in that world--starting with Miss Pink and Mr. Blue.

But I wish I was certain of my goal in life. Besides raising my children to be awesome people, of course.

And I think that is part of the problem. Every so often, I want to be something other--something supposedly more than--a stay-at-home mom. Deep down, for some reason, I believe that being a wife and mother is not enough as a life goal. At the same time, I don't want to go back to teaching school full-time unless I have to! It must be a case of "the grass is always greener." Maybe I'm dissatisfied with being a SAHM or a teacher because I've already done those things and I crave more recognition. So that makes me wish I could be a scholar or a novelist. Neither of those paths is closed to me, but they're not exactly things I can start doing tomorrow. And I suspect that if I was able to step into that life, I would find that it isn't all that, either.

I have some thoughts about what I can do to overcome my discontent, but I'll save them for another post.



  1. Isn't it funny how no matter where we are in life, for some reason it just doesn't seem good enough.

    I remember one summer planning to work at my church camp. All spring it was "I can't wait to be at camp, I can't wait to be at camp"... I don't think I was at camp 5 minutes before it was "I can't wait to go back to school"

    Being a wife and a mom is a HUGE thing.

    And so is following your dreams.

    And I love you for both of those.

  2. Hum, I know these feelings. I know them really well. It's no easy answer, or perhaps it is, maybe it is just a matter of choosing. The hard part is believing.

    (Thanks for your kind words on my post the other day. That support goes a long way in me almost believing in myself. Thank you. erin)

  3. Great post.

    This came to mind when I read your post. I struggle with the same thing from time to time.

    10I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Phil. 4:10-13

  4. I think everyone goes through that at least a little. I have an established career with a job I actually like, and even I think from time to time... is this it? Shouldn't I be doing more? Or something different? More often than not, those thoughts center around other areas of my life (like church work or friendships), though, and not my work life. So maybe the answer is that it is our innate desire for perfection in all areas of our life that drives the dissatisfaction, rather than being content to focus on the two or three categories that God has made the main things in our lives during this season.