I’m Having a Mid-Life Crisis

This post is going to be more personal than anything I’ve ever put out before for the world to see. But I’ve been struggling with my thoughts for months, and I’m just now starting to see a light at the end, and for some cosmic reason, I feel like I should share.

My current job is no longer fulfilling me. Perhaps I will get more into the details of it someday, but I really do like my company and don’t wish to say anything negative, so I will just leave it vague for now. Suffice it to say that I am ready for a new chapter.

But the main reason I’ve been struggling so much is that I don’t know where I want to go from here. It’s been quite the challenge trying to figure that out. I’ve been reading self-help books, doing journal exercises to flesh out my interests, asking my friends their opinions of what I should do, demanding that the universe send me the answer in a dream, and even started seeing a therapist about it (see, total mid-life crisis here!). I am inching my way forward and making some progress, but it’s been a little slow-moving.

A turning point was reading an awesome self-help book by Emilie Wapnick called How to Be Everything, and it really spoke to me. So much so that I read it twice within several weeks, the second time highlighting all the passages that felt like she was writing to me personally. The basic gist is that some people just are not cut out to do one thing their whole life. These people crave variety and meaning, and without that, even in the presence of other wonderful blessings, they remain unfulfilled.  Wapnick lays out 4 career strategies for these people, whom she calls “multipotentialites”; the one I am gravitating towards is the “slash” career, which is obtaining your income from several different unrelated sources, mostly part-time for each.

I like this idea, and I can’t believe I never thought of it on my own. It reduces the fear I always have that I will get bored a few years into pursuing a new interest. Boredom is the multipotenialite’s most feared enemy (at least for the multipotentialite writing this blog post). Wapnick says that multipotentialites don’t quit something when it gets too hard; they quit when it gets too easy. Bam, that one blew my mind with its ringing truth when I first read it. I love it so much, I could almost get it tattooed on me! (Almost!)

So I may have found my preferred career method, but that still leaves the very important question of what exactly I could do. Many of the other self-help books I’ve been reading have been opening my eyes to the idea of self-employment. I used to think that the lack of security and stability of working for myself was just too scary, so I discounted it before giving it a fair thought. But suddenly I’m starting to love the idea of being a solopreneur. I don’t want to have a big business with employees working for me, but I like the idea of running a business all on my own. So again, one more step closer to the answer.

Some of my vague ideas so far, in no particular order: tour guide, study abroad counselor, antique dealer, furniture upholsterer, something in magazine design, full-time blogger, lifestyle photographer, and trip itinerary planner. They are kind of all over the place, but I’m starting to see themes emerging.  I might be able to combine a few of these things into a decent income if I work hard at it.

The secondary obstacle that I am just starting to understand is my issue with confidence. My therapist has been telling me that the thoughts you have as a child can really stick with you, even if you logically know that they have no factual basis. I know that I have talents, and I usually like who I am as a person. But I struggle with confidence when I know someone else is counting on me to deliver. The outside pressure can overwhelm me and cause a lot of anxiety. I have a lot of variations of “What if I fail?” that creep into my thoughts on a regular basis, and it keeps me from even trying sometimes. It’s something I’m working on. I know I need to conquer this if I’m going to make a successful transition to entrepreneurship. It’s not something I can fix overnight, but if I keep telling myself that I can do this, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to overwrite those more primal thoughts in time.

So after months of my brain running on hyper-speed and feeling very overwhelmed, I still do not have a perfect answer. But now I’m feeling excited about the possibilities and the unknown future. Something good is coming, I can feel it…

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