Yesterday I had a lot of time to contemplate life as I drove home from my daughter’s house. There’s nothing I love more than a good, long ride, with the car and radio all to myself. I blast my music and sing as loud as I want, and I have time to truly think.
For me, however, too much time to think can sometimes be a problem. I will begin to second guess my decisions, one of which is starting school this January. I began to analyze why I decided to pursue a master’s degree at fifty years of age. Certainly, it was not for the money, since I won’t be making any more than I make right now. In fact, I may make less as a counselor than I do as a nurse!
I acknowledged that my life is pretty great right now. I love my job and the people with whom I work. I take the time I need for myself (most times) and I am still healing and growing at my pace. My anxiety began to bubble like a freshly cracked open can of seltzer when I looked forward to January and imagined how my life would change.
I would face deadlines and stress, experience time management struggles, feel the impact of family obligations, and worry about neglecting my youngest son to pursue my own dreams. I started to wonder if I would still have time to write anything other than research papers. Would I find time to exercise? Would I still be able to relax? These were all unknowns.
The Lydia of yesteryear would rise to these challenges and throw caution to the wind because she could do anything, but her motivation to accomplish and do anything was something I no longer possess. I don’t need to set these crazy expectations for myself any longer. The allure of oooh's and aah's from the crowd no longer dictates my goals. Although, I wonder if my recent decision to go back to school wasn’t swayed by the many people that were telling me I would be great as a counselor?
Regardless, I am grateful I have the insight to recognize that I may have made a decision that was impulsive and recognize I have every right to change my mind. Ultimately, I want to help people, and a dear friend pointed out to me yesterday that I am already helping people, people I don’t even know I’m helping with my writing and my words.
As a nurse and a patient advocate, I help others on a daily basis. I listen and encourage them. I support my patients and help them set goals. I am already helping people, so why take on this enormous amount of stress in January? After working so hard over the past nine months to heal the parts of me that longed for validation, accolades, and atta girls, I noticed that my journey has only just begun and that I still have a long way to go.
As I drove north on I-95, with the Dixie Chicks blaring, and singing the words “I’m ready to run,” along with Natalie Maines, I suddenly realized, I don’t want to do anything right now except just be. Be a mom. Be a nurse. Be a writer. Be a Nana for the second time. I just want to be. I don’t want to strive for more. I just want to be content as I am, and I actually am, and that my friends, is a miracle!
When I got home, my husband took me out to dinner and I told him I didn’t think I really wanted to go back to school, even though everything is in place for me to begin in January. He looked at me across the table bewildered.
“What? Why? I thought that’s what you really want to do,” he said somewhat confused.
I told him I like my life the way it is right now. I explained that taking on additional debt from student loans did not align with our retirement plans. But most importantly, I told him that I finally reconnected with my passion for writing again and don’t want to sacrifice that time. I also explained that I continue to learn every day about myself and don’t know if I want to redirect that focus right now.
I am a work in progress and as such, I must continue to analyze my motives. Second-guessing myself is a blessing sometimes because it finally makes me evaluate where I am and where I want to be. At times I make impulsive decisions and I know that’s related to my history of trauma as is the indecisiveness I am currently experiencing. But it’s okay.
Today I am okay with my flakiness and indecision. I am okay changing my mind, regardless of what others think because I am finally at a point in my life where my decisions are being made with my life and my mental health as the priority.
I once would have just sucked it up and worked hard, sacrificed my time and family, my health, my psyche, and seen the commitment through because I operated on the fear that I would disappoint or let others down. I was terrified of failure when trying to meet others’ expectations.
Not anymore. I have learned that the only person I need to make happy is me, and that begins with allowing myself to change my mind.