By Guest Blogger Tracy Huneycutt
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot
I turned 40 this past year. It was a welcome decade to enter. My 20s were spent learning about myself and creating new experiences with friends. The entire decade of my 30s were spent becoming a wife and then a mother, and living fully for that at every moment. As I approached 40, I realized that I hadn’t necessarily lost myself, but I had certainly put my own needs, desires, and growth on the back burner, as women and mothers often do. I made a pact with myself that my 40s would be the decade that I rediscover myself while simultaneously embracing wifedom and motherhood.
That transformation for me was in the form of a career change, one that had been gnawing on my heart for quite some time. Every rational thought in my head fought against it for a while: “But you have a stable job with good coworkers.” “It will be a loss of income that will be hard to live without.” “You have no experience in this field and will be completely lost.” “This career field is difficult and it will be harder than you realize.” Despite these doubts, a month before I turned forty, an opportunity came up that felt like the right move at the right time, so I took the leap of faith.
In this process, so much more changed for me than just my career. Having to watch our finances a bit more seemed like a small sacrifice in order to feel like I have a purpose every day. I look forward to going to work; as the old saying goes, “If you do something you enjoy, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I feel like I am making a difference and positively impacting lives. I have more free time in the afternoons, which has allowed me both more time with my school-aged son as well as more time to volunteer. I was more sedentary in my old career, where now I am on my feet most of the day; I have seen an improvement in my health and my sleep. My family and friends have noticed and commented on how much happier I am. I have become a more patient and peaceful person – but even more so, a more patient and compassionate mother.
Now you may not be turning 40, or you may not be at a place financially or otherwise where a drastic career change is in the cards right now. You may be muddling through the newborn years where every moment of your time is devoted to caring for an infant. (I remember those years – they are exhausting but so precious – enjoy every moment!) But, there may come a time, if that time is not right this moment, when you realize that you need to make yourself a priority again.
No matter your age or where you are in motherhood, a change of any kind may feel scary or unattainable initially, but the results may be worth the risk of trying. This may be working up the nerve to join a yoga class at the gym, or enlisting a babysitter so you can take a night time photography or poetry course at a local college. It may be taking that first step into a room of a women’s group at church, or asking a spouse or partner to take a cooking class or dancing class with you. It may be enlisting your whole clan in finding new family hobbies, like hiking trails or going bike riding together. It may be sacrificing sleep to work on getting your on-line degree after your family goes to bed, or giving up a long-loved career to try a new position you have been dreaming of for a while. But in the process, you may discover a new passion, a new talent, a new outlet for your energy or frustrations, a new friendship, or improved mental, emotional, and physical health. In my early teenage years, around the time when my own mother turned forty, she began trying new activities with her friends. She started tennis lessons and even became certified in SCUBA diving. Those are skills and activities that she has kept for life.
Sometimes we rediscover ourselves in the changes that we make and the risks that we take. Sometimes our happiness – the happiness we have outside of our families – is found in unexpected places. Whatever might be gnawing at your own heart to change, I hope that you have the opportunity to try something new this coming year, and in the process, find a new purpose or joy.
“New beginnings are in order, and you are bound to feel some level of excitement as new chances come your way.” – Auliq Ice
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