Lately, I’ve been feeling uncomfortable. On paper, my life is great. And I’m self aware enough to recognize that I am blessed to have everything that I need, and more than a few things that I want. Still, I’m unsatisfied.
At 31, I came to really grasp my own mortality. The knowledge that one day, my life will inevitably end has me asking myself, is this all there is? What can I do that will bring my life meaning and purpose? What are the things that will haunt me if I die without accomplishing?
Heavy thoughts, I know. I guess my midlife crisis came early. But as a result, I just don’t have patience for things the way I used to. I’m much more aware of my relationships and the value that add (or don’t add) to my life. I’m heartily sick and tired of being everyone’s rock. The one that they call when they need a shoulder to cry on, but don’t contact when there is good news. The one that they call for business or legal advice, but don’t ask me if I’m doing okay in the wake of a death in the family. The one who keeps a level head and listens to everyone else’s crazy drama, but can’t get a word in edgewise the one time I need a listening ear. I’m the one who sends surprise birthday gifts, holiday cards, or at the very least can be counted on to call you and say happy birthday personally.
In the past year I’ve fallen back on all of that. Relationships aren’t tit for tat, but the exhaustion of almost always going the extra mile and almost never getting it back takes a toll. I’ve been told that some people just have a smaller cup to pour from, and they’ll never be able to give as much as I do and I have to meet them on their level. Well, fine. I hate being parsimonious with my affection, but what I hate more is giving resentfully. So I’m going to be selfish, until I can be generous again and mean it.
Then there’s my job. Civil legal aid is my dream job although you could argue it’s thankless. It certainly requires me to give a lot mentally and emotionally. But most of my clients are pretty darn grateful, and that helps. Maybe it’s because I tend to handle thornier issues (tax debt, fraud, bankruptcies, foreclosures) but a good 90% of my clients actually say thank you when I wrap up their case and are pretty gracious throughout the process. My job fatigue stems almost entirely from the dysfunction of my nepotism riddled organization. Nobody in an executive officer position has practiced law within the past 20 years. Our director of IT almost old enough to draw Social Security benefits and refused to cede control of anything but computer and phone setup for new employees, despite the fact that there are four other people under her who are more than capable of assisting with security, web development, etc. My job is funded by three different grants and it creates so much extra paperwork it’s not even funny.
On August 7, 2018 I posted on my Facebook the following quote: “I’m ready to become a bestselling author so I can quit my day job.” This morning, I stumbled across a beautiful poem by a high school friend of mine. We were both bookworms and aspiring writers. She followed her dreams and majored in English, did her master’s in literature at Oxford College in England, and just last year published her first book. As for me, I took the practical path. I don’t regret it because if I hadn’t gone to Georgia Tech, I might never have met my husband (or might have met him much later), and he’s been nothing but amazing to be around. Law school gave me a profession that will always allow me to make money on my own terms. But maybe the lawyer phase of my life should be coming to an end. One of my Mercer classmates quit her day job to become a fitness instructor and personal trainer. And Toni Morrison, bestselling author and Nobel Prize winner, who passed away on August 5, 2019, didn’t publish her first book until she was 39 years old.
There’s still time. But not enough to waste.