If you’ve been reading my blog over the summer, you’ve seen me mention <several times> about how I was laid-off in May, right after we moved cross-country; coincidentally, I was notified just prior to my husband getting a new job, so we were living in an RV and neither of us had jobs. Sweet, right? I know. Mr. & Mrs. Safe-and-Secure Planner out in left-field. It was a crash course in reinventing yourself!
Not only did we have to drop out of the house purchase we were about to make – that evening – but we had to re-align our entire future plans. Looking back, it was only a few months of extreme change, but when you’re a mom my age (which I won’t say, other than to say I am old enough to have my oldest child turn 25 in November) the last thing you want to be doing is reinventing yourself by force, yet that’s exactly what I had to do.
I am not against change, by any means. Our cross-country move to experiment with country living is proof of that, and shows that we can be risk-takers, too. I would not have thought of myself as that even as little as five years ago, but I don’t want to grow old thinking I’d settled.
One big thing that made it all possible is that my husband is extremely supportive of me doing what I want to be doing. He’s got a job that challenges him and uses the talents and skills that he’s built throughout the many years in his field, and I know that’s important to him. I’d started to feel in my old job that I was stagnating – that there really wasn’t much, if any, opportunity for me to move around. I liked what I was doing, but after almost 17 years of doing it, I’d been flirting with the idea of leaving anyway. I just wanted to do it on my own terms, a few months down the line.
Life doesn’t always work that way, so you have to be able to shake off the bad and jump into the future before you’re ready for it sometimes.
Buying a house, starting a new job, putting your special needs child in a public school for the first time in two years…each thing on its own is significant, and each thing had been on the horizon for a while there but suddenly, it was the perfect storm. Would I have preferred doing them separately? Yes, but we decided we’d take it one day at a time and make it work regardless.
Because of the timing with the job loss at least, I was able to think about what it is I really wanted with my life. Work or stay-at-home mom? Full-time, part-time, freelance? Keep my cupcake business or focus on the food blog? Or both? Or ALL?
I chose all…work, stay-at-home mom, cupcake biz and food blog…and social media, of course. When it comes to reinventing yourself, you can go big or go home, so I decided to go big.
Sometimes, we really can have it all. In a span of a few short months, we not only became suburban homeowners of a large house that has far too much space to decorate for someone with no interior designs skills, but I jumped in feet-first to develop a new cupcake clientele base, join blogger groups so I could get in the loop on food-related and family-related blogger events, find freelance social media work AND get a new job as a social media manager. I was able to decide what line of work I wanted to be in (community-focused, B2B or B2C, etc.) and what focus (service, product, behind-the-scenes, etc.) I got to become more than just a community manager of a troubled community and a mom. (And when I say “just,” I mean in MY eyes…I’d done it for so long, it was “just” what I did every day. I’d lost appreciation for it as well as the opportunity to realize how fortunate I was that I’d enjoyed it as long as I did.)
Being a mom is the most important thing I can be, but I also enjoy social media to the point where I want to be in it daily. Because of the nasty turn of events last April/May, I got stopped in my tracks and got to see, to really look around and see, where we were. I got to choose the next step instead of just rolling along with the tide. That is SO important.
When I talk to my great-grandchildren, I want to tell them story after story of all their relatives. I want to tell them of travels and adventures and fill them with happy memories that they can pass down and use for traditions if they so choose. I want to give them a sense of family, and sometimes you need to have it all come to a screeching halt to realize how much you have to give…or don’t have, if you’ve settled for “good enough.”
I’m not saying my experience is a model for anyone, but I do hope to inspire others to get out of a rut…or at least maybe realize they’re in one. Think about where you wanted to be when you graduated from high school or college. Did you have dreams that are still dormant in the back of your head? Have you given up on something because it’s too hard to change, or are you going to work each day, hating it? Do you have hobbies or interests that are ignored due to lack of time or money? Something you want to learn, if for nothing more than learning it, or do you want that degree you never got?
Life’s too short to be unhappy. Think about what you want in life, and while I don’t advocate dumping your husband or quitting a job that you need to pay the bills or running away from your family, almost everyone can make some small changes in life that get them closer to truly happy. Having too many “I wish I could have…” can weigh on you, and this past year, I realized that I had a lot of them that are now fulfilled.
It’s a good feeling when you get up in the morning, enjoy the time and work to get your kids out the door to school or to care for them all day, or do the work at your job and/or business, then relax at night in a home you’ve made your own with those you love surrounding you. Having a social life that encompasses things you want to do…even if it’s just bbq’ing chicken on your back patio with those you love the most…it’s important. It’s not only good for your mental health, but it’s good for your physical health. That’ll keep you around to do those things longer.
Reinventing yourself doesn’t have to be as extreme as moving 2700 miles away, getting laid off and living in an RV until you can start the mortgage process again, but if change kicks you in the pants before you’re ready, it’s not necessarily a permanent devastation either. Sometimes it’s a chance to take a breath, decompress, lose some baggage and then start walking towards what you really want. I’m not saying it’s easy – you may need some education, a schedule change, compromise – but I bet you’ll find it’s worth it.