This might be long!
So yeah, I’m having midlife crisis number 750,003. I started having midlife crises in my early 20’s, which I think is common for us wimmins. We’re taught that we “expire” early, for one thing, in terms of having value to society, but there’s also a shit ton of pressure on people of any gender to be wildly successful when they’re really young. I personally HATE the cult of youth success - have a gander at Justin Bieber - as it makes you feel super shitty if you haven’t “accomplished anything” by the time you’re 25.
I’m in therapy, yes, and thank goddess. She is the tits. I’ve done a crapload of work with different therapists and on my own since forever, because I had a fucked up childhood / traumatic adolescence that it took a lot of effort just to survive, much less overcome. I’ll just say that my mother, who I went No Contact with in 2006, has Borderline Personality Disorder, made my life a living hell and she projected a bunch of her own sick bullshit onto me. I used to be good at remembering this. I used to be able to tell myself, ya know what, Uppity, you had a lot of bullshit of such an extreme degree that a lot of folks don’t have to deal with. So cut yourself some slack. I’ve often felt that I’m about 10 years behind my peers in terms of career success. Yeah, that seems about right.
Lately, though, I wonder if everything I’ve been reaching for is bullshit. I’m an artist, and I finally had a pretty major coup this past fall that “validated” me. But my creative work has stagnated since then. And I’m sort of exhausted. I’m an academic, so income is from teaching, and I had a shitty year and I’m looking for a new post. But the pressure on us to always work is so fucking immense. I’m taking the summer off to recharge, and hopefully make new work, but I feel utterly constipated regarding the new work even though I have ideas out my ears. I feel like I can’t do it, or I don’t want to, because it’s, you know, WORK, and I’ve been working so fucking hard the last 3 years and my colleagues do not value me.
Also my father died early this year, so since my mother is out of the picture I’m really an orphan. That made everything more complicated, because I had a shit review at work two weeks after he passed away. Nope, they would not reschedule it. And THEN the assholes came to my office to tell me “not to slack off” because of my shit review. HI, I’M FUCKING GRIEVING FOR THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN MY LIFE, FUCK OFF.
Um er, so I’ve been looking for another post selectively since I got here, anyway, because I hate the place I am geographically and culturally. It’s conservative and Christian and passive aggressive and fucking cold and miserable. The only good thing about it is that I can drive to Previous City in an afternoon. But when I go back home to Current Town I get massively depressed. Being an academic means taking jobs wherever they are. I’ve been looking selectively because there are not a lot of places in the US I’d like to live. I’m a city gal, I need to live in a major metropolitan area, preferably a really cool one with minimal Christian bullshit (I grew up in the South and I might be a little bitter about that).
So maybe I should give up on academia and return to the regular work world, where I could probably make more money, be able to live where I fucking want to, and maybe even be valued for what I do. I’ve been thinking specifically of moving into advertising since I have the art background. It might be a tough transition. I feel like at the moment I don’t even care about my own creative work. If I can use my creativity in my job, rather than just my administrative skills, maybe I won’t feel like something huge is missing from my life. This idea of moving into advertising has been a nagging thought for years, essentially since graduating from undergrad, and I’ve made halfhearted attempts to move over there, but instead followed my Dream™, got my MFA, and went into higher ed. I don’t particularly love it. It’s ok, it saved me from starvation. I have benefits for the first time ever in my adult life, and I appreciate it for that. My students like me, I’ve improved a shit ton in the 3 years I’ve been doing it, but I just don’t know if I care that much. And I feel like I took a vow of poverty in order to teach that I’m not sure I’m ok with now. Also, it’s hard to really enjoy your “summers off” when you’re expected to generate new research, plan your classes (new courses = lots of preparation!), and are too broke to do much more than a grand staycation (yeah student loans!).
I don’t think my career crisis is related my dad’s death, since it has always been present in one form or another.
Basically I feel like I can never be happy or even satisfied. And I don’t know what I “should be” doing.
Help. etc. Help me figure out my life.
P.S. My therapist says my eternal struggles are a combination of low-grade depression that is sneaking through my meds, as well as leftover wrong thinking from my adolescent years / early 20’s that I’ve confirmation-biased into negative self talk that I believe, such as thinking that I “suck at having a career” etc.
Sorry that was so long!
Oh, ETA: I have another job interview for a position in the UK, so now I’m freaking out over potentialy bombing, but also freaking out over potentially moving to the UK if I get it (although I’ve been intentionally looking for overseas jobs) - it’s making me wonder if I want to commit to being an academic enough to do it overseas.