A few years ago I had a viable business as a freelance writer, in which I found clients, convinced them to hire me, set my own fees, and met multiple and sometimes conflicting deadlines. I was brave, I was motivated, I was a shy and disorganized person who forced myself to become socially adept(-ish) and organized. I pushed my own limits every day.
And what do I do now? Crafts and housework. A friend asked me recently what I’ve been doing these days and I could not think of one interesting thing to say.
I am happier now than I have ever been. If you look at basic, day-to-day contentment levels, you really can’t beat what I’ve got going on right now, waking up when I am ready, reading and fiddling around with house projects, and occasionally writing a few pages of a story now and then. But is it really a satisfying answer to the question of what to do with my life? Just “being happy,” not producing anything, not achieving anything? I’m not striving towards anything at all.
The thing is, I’ve striven. There’s only one thing I’ve wanted consistently for my whole life, as long as I can remember wanting things, and that is to be a published writer. Well, I achieved that before I was 30. So what next? I don’t want to go on being a journalist; I don’t actually like journalism much, certainly not enough to build a life’s work on it. But how do I jump into my next consuming desire?
It’s easy to look at my life now (ghost-costumed wine bottles? Really?) and say that I am stagnating, but how quickly did you bounce into the next thing, the last time you achieved a lifelong goal?
…Sorry. Little defensive here. It does wear on me after a while. Being asked what I do and telling people that I’m a housewife. There’s always that blank second of adjustment, and then they say “Oh…well, nothing wrong with that,” meaning “Whoa, something is wrong with that.” When told that I don’t work, one working mom asked whether I had kids, and when I said no, she said “Jesus, then what are you doing with yourself?”
I am making chalkboard magnet bats, lady. Obviously.
But of course there is another goal on the horizon. I know it, you know it. I should be writing fiction. And what is taking me so long, you might ask, and I wonder too, sometimes. What’s the appropriate transition time from one dream to the next? Do you know? It was not in my manual.
And while I figure it out, I paint the kitchen island. I re-read Jane Austen. I enjoy myself. I guess that’s what I’m doing these days.