The Map of Life

I’ve never felt more optimistic about the future but this doesn’t mean I’m not terrified by all the possibilities.

I often talk about choosing paths because I visualize life as a giant map with all sorts of twists and turns along the way as we make choices.  I think sometimes we limit ourselves by choosing only to see the easiest or most obvious paths.  We ignore the trails off the paths because they don’t seem passable.

I’m starting to see more trails.  When I see one of these trails I’m always tempted to see where they might lead but they’re not well traveled and you can’t always see where they lead making them a less stable choice.  I’m worried one might lead me to a dead end or off a cliff but I’m also thinking a less traveled path could lead to happiness.

Right now I’m looking at career choices and weighing traditional vs. risky.  I have these fleeting moments where I want to ignore what I should be doing, throw caution to the wind, and find a way to pursue more creative, less traditional, higher risk career options.  I think I’m so scared of going back into a miserable work environment I’m beginning to question all my choices.  I see people living their lives without a 9-5 job so I know it’s possible.  I’m trying to delve deep into what I truly want for my life but It’s not easy because there’s a constant fear of making the wrong choice.

It always comes down to money, the root of all evil but necessary to live.  I feel like I constantly straddle the line between choosing money or passion hoping to find the beautiful area in between where you earn money doing what you love.  I’m not even looking to make tons of money just enough to live on without worry.  I’m living on less than 1/2 of what I was making and I wouldn’t mind making more but I’m pretty content.  Bills are paid and I have my fair share of creature comforts.

If you could always earn enough money to live and  do whatever you wanted for a career, what would you do?

I came up with the question but I’m struggling to come up with an answer.

I’ve known what I wanted to do since I was in junior high, prison psychologist (might not be for everyone but I’m fascinated by why people do what they do), but somewhere along the way that career path was derailed.  I picked it back up again a few years ago by completing my Associates in Psychology and moving on to a Bachelors’ in Criminal Justice.  When I was working on my degree I was excited by the topics I was learning and knew I was ready to take on a job that could make a difference.  The jobs I’m applying for right now are juvenile rehabilitation counselor assistant, social services specialist, human services specialist, and community corrections officer (parole officer).  All jobs that put me on the career path I’ve always wanted but now that I’m inching closer to actually finding my way into that career path I’m scared.

I’m scared of going back to the “40+ hours a week too exhausted & burnt out not wanting to do anything” existence, the place of least resistance.  I’m scared of going back into my rut.  That comfortable place where I’m not active or present but just there allowing life to pass me by without engaging in the world.  I don’t think I could allow myself to go back into my rut but I acknowledge the fear.

I realize being afraid doesn’t mean I’m going to stop it just means I’m trying to scope out all the different paths and trails. It sounds cheesy but I really am the only one holding me back from exploring all my options.  My family and friends might not always understand but they still support me in whatever I choose to do so the only limitations are the ones I set for myself.

For now I’m going to continue to pursue both options, the traditional and the risky.

I have to constantly remind myself that once I make a choice I’m not necessarily stuck on that path.  If I choose a job and find it’s not for me I can always move onto something else.  Change is scary but it can also be exciting because it’s a chance for a fresh start.  I never thought I could be so uncertain but so happy at the same time.  I’m learning to live with and in some way even appreciate the uncertainty in my life.  If I’m stepping back and looking at the map of my life I know that all the paths and trails are open to me.

I just need to take a deep breath, muster up my courage, and start walking.

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