Bird on a Bare Branch

Attempting to fling a frail song in my little corner of the world

Coffee Mug Wisdom August 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen @ 3:01 am

Yesterday I saw a mug that said, “I have a life.  I just don’t know where I left it.”

I almost bought it because that is exactly how I feel.  But I didn’t because I didn’t want the depressing daily reminder.

Am I the only one who feels like my life is going backward instead of forward?  Am I the only one who feels like every single person I know is either meeting their soul mates, getting married, having babies, adopting children, moving to exciting places, moving into what they’re more passionate about vocationally, or some combination of any of the above?  It’s not even about not having a husband or kids or a house.  It’s a little bit about that, but it’s also about owning a twin bed when I used to own a double and having all my stuff in boxes and living out of a suitcase and realizing what my affordable, tiny possibilities are for renting on my own.  It’s about wondering when I’ll be done paying back grad school loans.  It’s about people regularly thinking I’m 25.  Supposedly women in their 30s find that flattering.  I end up wondering if people think I’m that immature.  It was flattering when I was 21.

Mostly, though, it’s about being back in Houston and teaching.  It feels like a black hole.  I like Houston, but now I feel trapped.  And I wonder if I’m doomed to teach first grade forever.  The longer I teach, the further I’m separated from doing what I most want to do, what I’ve worked hard to do.

So I tell myself I will find other opportunities while I’m in Houston outside of teaching to explore those possibilities.  I’ll be intentional about volunteering with refugees, with teaching ESL, with connecting with African organizations, with language study, with at least keeping up on reading about current issues in international education.  But the reality is, I won’t.  I won’t have time.  I return to 12 hour days and grading/planning on weekends.  I return to getting up at 5:30 every morning and crashing at teacher midnight – 9:00 (which I believe is even earlier than missionary midnight).

Maybe people think I’m 25 because I’ve somehow ended up reliving the life I had then.

Then I think maybe there’s a life out there, out there this year even, that I haven’t even considered, that I haven’t even dreamed up yet, that I don’t even know I love or am good at or passionate about.  Or maybe this teaching first grade life and living in Houston life and sleeping in a twin bed in a tiny apartment life is actually my life, and I need to learn to embrace it.  (Ugh, I hate that phrase “learn to embrace it”.)  Or maybe I need to redefine what moving forward looks like.


5 Responses to “Coffee Mug Wisdom”

  1. Kacie Says:

    Ugh, I hate that feeling. I think you can experience at any point in life, even if you’ve reached some of the turning points that initially feel like a significant move forward. I wrestled so much with feeling directionless for the last few years in Dallas. And yeah, I am sort of insulted by everyone thinking I”m younger than I am as well!

    Yeah, it helps to be looking forward to an MA degree now, and having a baby… so there’s change in the wind and I feel different than I did two years ago.

    But still, I anticipate feeling stuck again later. I do think some of it is redefining purpose… what is the purpose of my life? Some of the things that I feel social pressure to conform to in order to be a successfull grown up are just that… social pressure…. things I should never really need and thus need to resist.

    The book Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper was super discouraging for me. It kept thinking, look, I’m not someone that needs motivating to get out of the American cultural box …. I’m so ready and willing to get out of it. But what I’m called to some sort of waiting, or daily monotony, or service that isn’t particularly fulfilling at the moment…. what if exactly where I’m supposed to be in God’s plan still FEELS like I’m wasting my life, even if I’m not?

  2. davyellen17 Says:


    This post is exceptional. I’m not being a critic. I’m just being honest. I hear what you are saying. It sounds very real and very stifling. There is some greater joy than you are sensing right now. But I can picture you sitting in the classroom and in the three seconds you get to daydream thinking only of other things. don’t know what to say… except you are in it now. you’ll figure it out… I really think that… or maybe there is nothing to figure out and only a change to be made. hopefully you get what I am saying… in short, hang in there, dear friend. Your thoughts are valid and heard.

  3. laurel Says:

    Thanks for being honest, Jen. I appreciate your vulnerability.

  4. Jenny Says:

    I love how honest you are. Thank you so much for taking the time to put your thoughts to words like this. We’ve talked about this a bit, but I feel like I got an even more realistic perspective in your writing — you did such a good job of articulating where you feel you are right now. I wish I had all the answers (or the perfect job overseas!), but just know that you are very, very loved.

  5. Ghislaine Says:

    I sympathize with so much of what you say. Your words are in so many ways my own, and I think it is because there are times in every person’s life where you wonder how much of yor life really belongs to you -to your plans, your dreams, your expectations of how life should be-.
    I like the hopeful note in the end of your post. I am sure that all that now seems meaningless will at some point articulate towards an end. All this questioning, all these “growing pains” will seem absolutely necessary to recognize the beauty of that end when it comes.

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