False Starts and Creating a New Path

 

Introducing: Sarah

“Here I am, 27, married for almost four years, mother of a toddler, home owner.  All these quick transitions broke me down.”

I dreamed of attending the University of Virginia.  It was the University.  The brass ring.  The arbiter of good, better, and best.  The day I received my acceptance letter will forever live in my mind.  Finally, a release.  Finally, I am good enough.  I made it.

Soon, though, I learned I’d never be good enough.

My first year at U.Va. broke me down.  Everyone was better than me.  Smarter than me.  Prettier than me.  Wealthier than me.  Funnier than me.  I was a nothing.  And each C, D, F I received that first year reminded me.

I never struggled in school.  I was the best.  The curve setter, the straight A student.  Who was this girl who botched tests, received back papers with more red marks than printed words?  Who was this failure?

College felt lonely and disappointing.  The biggest lesson I learned was I would never again be the best.

I graduated in three years and moved onto graduate school and my first job, eager to escape from those less-than feelings.  I hoped I’d find some worthiness in graduate school and in the working world.  But instead of feeling better about myself and my life, I felt more lost, worried I chose the wrong path, decided it’s too late to change directions.

At the same time, I was a newly-engaged young woman, navigating this idea of what it means to be married.  I barely focused on my wedding with work and school and life getting in the way.  I completely checked out of the process, refusing to go try on dresses, having my mom order me dresses online, decide on flowers, colors.  Everything felt like too much.

After the wedding, our house hunt began.  In between, I changed jobs, Dan changed jobs.  We spent weekends looking at open houses and week days prowling the listings online.  Got preapproved, got more serious about finding a place.  We decided on a house the first weekend out with our realtor, sent in our offer, closed 30 days later.

It wasn’t more than two months into our new house that I found out I was pregnant.  Good thing we sprang for the three bedrooms.  That nine months blasted by, and we welcomed Kate into our lives June 4, 2010, a couple of weeks before our third wedding anniversary.

We weighed all the options – full time work, part time work, quitting my job – and decided it would be best for our family for me to leave my job and stay home with Kate.  So I quit my job and began my life as a stay-at-home mom, both the most rewarding and most frightening job I’ve ever had.

Here I am, 27, married for almost four years, mother of a toddler, home owner.  All these quick transitions broke me down.  I tumbled around, feeling misplaced and identity-less, wondering how I got here.

Yet my life is everything I’ve always wanted, and yet so completely overwhelming and scary.  I’m still feeling the aftershocks of all these transitions, like I’m not fully caught up to what’s happening.  I question who I am, my identity, how I got here.  And, more scary than all that, why am I supposed to do now?

Processing all these major life transitions added up to a whopping quarterlife crisis.  As if life smacked me in the face all at once, and I’m still processing the wreckage.  But even amidst the emotional seesaw of past few years, I see the my gifts and my tenacity and my hope that I will find the answers – my answers – and the courage to live life on my terms.

I don’t know what’s next.  It’s uncertain.  And uncertainty is not something I do well.  I prefer to function in a world where I know not only my next move, but my move after that and after that, the path nicely paved and ready for me.  But since that path does not exist, I need to make it for myself.  And while I’m not sure where I’m going, I’m ready to find out.

And I know I’m not alone.  I know there are other girls out there, struggling in the same ways.  I want to share my story, be that support, let them know I totally get you.  It’s okay to say you’re struggling.  Let’s make our way through together.

 

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