Who Am I?

(Geek note: If you read this title and answered “I’m Jean Valjean!” or “2-4-6-0-1!”, pat yourself on the head, you little musical geek. I was thinking the same thing when I wrote it.)

Over the weekend, I was digging through my purse and found an ID card. The photo of myself and Cordy was taken just about a year ago. Something looked off in the picture, and I studied it hard, while also glancing in the mirror.

I showed it to Aaron and said, “Look at this picture, and look at me now. This picture is only a year old. I looked great when it was taken. I looked young. But now look at me! I’m so different now, and I look so much older, but it’s only been a year.

Aaron glanced at me, and said, “You don’t look that much different, although you do look more tired and older around the eyes. That’s probably the difference. You really do too much.

He’s right. I do look more tired now, and because of that, I look older. I’ve aged 5 years or more in just one year. How did that happen? And how can I reverse it?

I look in the mirror and I sometimes lose myself in it. Like Kristen at Motherhood Uncensored, I think I’ve lost track of who I am. I’ve changed so much over the years that I would find it hard to answer the question, “Who are you?”.

Twelve years ago, I was a teenager entering college, unsure of what I wanted to be. I chose Elementary Education. Why? I don’t know – it looked like an easy program, I liked kids, and teaching sounded cool. I quickly changed my mind, and after changing my major four times, settled on History.

Eight years ago, I was starting graduate school, confident that I was going to become a history professor, with a focus on women and social structure in Tudor Britain, while also acting in renaissance faires on the side. Grad school didn’t work out (mostly the fault of the school), and after a quarter I was moving again and looking for any job I could.

Since that point eight years ago, I’ve done the following: worked in a daycare, designed and maintained a Web site for the library a major university, designed and produced e-learning courses, went back to graduate school for Theatre History, taught at the university level, dropped out of grad school yet again, got married, had a child, worked as a student advisor for another university, started a blog, and went back to school to pursue nursing.

Yeah, you could say I’m a little indecisive.

(Side note: If you asked anyone from my high school, they would never have guessed I’d be where I am. I doubt anyone expected me to marry, and they all thought I’d go into math or science, because I was the nerd who was too damn smart, while totally lacking in social ability.)

Trying to find things I’m passionate about has been difficult. I’ve never really had career goals – I just wanted a job that paid enough so I could do what I wanted to do with my life. Of course, I never exactly specified what it is I want to do with my life. I like writing (although not forced writing – term papers are always such a pain to write), I like babies and children, I like medicine. Nursing has so far held my interest for the past year, as has blogging, and, if it isn’t obvious, I love the parenting gig, too.

But nailing down any specific plan for my life is near impossible. I can’t tell you where I want to be in 5 years, probably because I know there’s a strong chance that whatever I tell you won’t be the reality when we get to that 5 year point.

I know that I must slow down. Relax. Take more time for myself. But how? I’m already 30, I’m starting over in school, and I’m barely into my role as mommy. Plus we’re now officially trying for baby #2, which makes me extremely happy, although a little nervous as to how we will work another child into our schedule. I don’t have time to slow down!

Some good news: Aviva and Devra at Parentopia took pity on me during my last soul-searching post and have offered up some excellent tips and advice. You can check it out on their site. For those of you who did want to participate in their help session, now’s your chance. Write a post about whichever topic you picked, detailing your problem, and then let them know it’s up and they’ll offer their help.

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  1. I sure can relate to this.

    Sorry, I have no advice.

    I will check out the link!

  2. I am at an impasse as well so I don’t have any great advice except this… Slow down, take a spa day, get a facial and a pedicure. It will take at least a year off you face!

    (and I’m sure you don’t look like you aged 5 years. But we’re always hardest on ourselves, right?)

  3. I’ve found the women least “expected” to marry always did so soon and happily. A lot of the so-called popular girls i knew in hs are still trying to get their heads together enough to find themselves a feller. I would have liked you in high school I bet.

  4. I am so there with you. I switched majors a few times and then ended up not graduating, got married, had kids and now I am here. I am pretty happy being a stay at home mother but I also want to think ahead for when I don’t have kids. You are not alone in this.

  5. Damn the career. I just want to make enough money to be happy.

    That is what I want to be when I grow up…happy.

    I have such a hard time finding my perfect job. I love all sorts of things. I just haven’t found a good way to make money doing them.

  6. Mommy off the Record says:

    I can relate to this also. I still really don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I envy the people who figured it out before they started college, graduated on time, entered a career they are passionate about, and have already got years of experience in their chosen field under their belt.

    But you know, the more people I talk to, the more I realize that that seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

    More often than not, people are like you and me–still trying to figure it out. One thing I have learned though is that you MUST put your well-being as a priority, whatever that means to you. You just have to find a way to take time for yourself. It can be hard if you have lots of interests, but maybe choose one or two to focus on and put the rest aside for now. (Easier said than done, I know.)

    Good luck in figuring it out, and if you come by any wisdom, be sure to let me know!

  7. I think I heard somewhere that the average person changes careers four times in their lifetime. Sounds like you are right on track! :)
    I went into nursing right out of high school and was lucky enough to work in a field I loved…until I had kids. Now that they are all in school, I am faced with “What am I going to do with myself now?” I am thinking about a career change, and I’ve got 10 years on you! You are only 30…you have plenty of time, trust me! :)
    I think your points are valid. I think many of us struggle to figure out where we are and where we want to be. Life is always changing, and children certainly help in that process.

  8. Hi Christina,
    I saw your comment over at Izzy’s site about men doing housework being sexy. That’s exactly the same type of comment left by several readers of this article over at To Love, Honor and Dismay. I thought you might enjoy it.

    Have a great one!

  9. I remember when all of my friends and I were applying to college. My parents, both college profs, told me “You can always change your major, you can always transfer.” That was very liberating for me. I plan to tell my children that we expect that part of their college education is to learn who you want to be when you grow up, but often that learning continues beyond and into adulthood because as we age we add new experiences to our lives this may change our outlook and the path we choose to follow from that point on.

  10. Congrats on trying! Have fun with that!

    I can identify with shifting courses and priorities. You’ve reminded me of a long discussion I once had with a former co-worker, and I think we both felt better just knowing that we weren’t the only ones who didn’t know what we wanted to be when we grew up.

  11. I was thinking the same sort of thing this morning as I woke up in Adams bed and looked around at my ‘world.’

    I wondered if the pre child woman would have envisioned this for her.

    Would the high school version of me really believe that I was happy with this.

    I have always been a bit directionless.

    I loved hair styles…did I become a hair dresser? No.

    I love wedding planning…did I become a wedding planner? No.

    I have drifted along and tried different things and am guiltily happy that my sahm position stops me from worrying right now about what I want to be when I grow up.

    Though I worry that my dh takes on the burden too much of our survival.

    I guess even at 37… I will flit along and make things up as I go.

  12. Oh Christina! I’m starting to wonder if we were separated at birth! So many of your thoughts and statements are similar to my own.

    I’ve changed majors many times and I’ve never graduated. I often think I did everything backwards in my life.

    Got married to fast, had a child and now suddenly I want to get an education and get a good job. But then I think I would rather just work my current job, pay all the debts and then be a stay at home mom.

    I’m pretty certain neither of these choices will happen any time soon.

    But I do know how you feel and I do think we never really plan life the way we wish — it just happens.

    Life is what happens when we’re busy making plans. Didn’t John Lennon say that?

  13. I can totally relate! I am back in school now and I keep finding new options and now I don’t know what it is I want to be “when I grow up”!

  14. Sloooooow down.

    Very good advice. Advice that I seem to be incapable of taking.

    Which is to say – I hear ya.

  15. creative-Type Dad (Tony) says:

    Yikes! Where do you find the time…??

  16. I can relate to this too well. But slowing down is a first start. I know … easier said than done. It looks like you have alot of people in your court cheering ya on.

    Take care of you though. Because if you don’t there’ll be nothing left to give to all the amazing things you do.

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