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.