What’s Holding You Back? Could It Be…Reality?

Lately, I’ve read a great deal of people writing and exhorting things like this: You can be whatever you want to be.  You can do whatever you want to do.  You decide.  If you don’t like  your life the way it is now, make the necessary changes and create the life you desire.

Okay, seriously?  This is 20-year-old thinking.

I mean, when I hear someone say that I am in complete control of my destiny and that any minute I can just unilaterally shelve everything and make a change (that works for me and me alone) then, well, I’m thinking this person is young, and so very optimistic (I do applaud this) and they do not have children.

So, let me dial it back about three decades for you.

I was one of those who believed exactly that:  I was in charge of my future.  I was in charge of my life.  If I didn’t like something, then I could make decisions and change it on a moment’s notice.  It could be the 7:30 am class I’d signed up for which I hated so I figured I’d change it, (I’m so not a morning person) or it could be the fact that I’d rather be living in the San Francisco Bay Area instead of the Pacific Northwest, or the Southwest, or the East Coast, take your pick.  It could be any number of things.  When I was younger (24+)  and had no real obligations, there really was nothing holding me back. Nothing.  I’m not kidding.  I made great money as a 25-year-old.  I was making bank and had no obligations.  The few credit cards I had, I could pay off in full each month (gross amounts of money I wish I now had). In addition, I had time.  I had time to regroup my losses.  I had time to correct my errors and regain my losses (if there were any).  I simply had time…or so I thought.  But…we don’t ever really know how much time we have…and we are never an island unto ourselves.

The reality is, you can’t always make the decisions you’d like, because you aren’t always completely in control of your life, unless you are an island.

I know.  That sounds blasphemous to many.  Sorry, but it’s true.  As much as I’d like to send it out to the universe that I am this or that…the reality is…what the reality is.

Think of it this way, if you are your own person and you have no obligations or commitments to others then, maybe, you can just up and do whatever you like whenever you want and, possibly, there really is nothing or no one holding you back. This is, at once, the best argument for remaining single forever and, at the same time, for leaving the single state as quickly as you can.   I feel for you if you are in this place.

The reality is, that as life goes on, life becomes less and less about us and more and more about those we love and what is best for them.

For the average 25-year-old, there aren’t many people you have to consult to make decisions about your life.  If you are lucky, your parents will support you in whatever adventure you take on.  You also, if you are lucky (meaning you did what you needed to do to make sure you were employable at a better-than-minimum-wage rate) have an income that provides for your basic needs and allows you the ability to make some choices with your life. In addition, you have the golden opportunity  that I call “TIME”.  At 25, you have an entire lifetime ahead of you.  If you make a bad choice, you have time to regroup and mitigate the losses.  It’s a very different story when you are say, 50 or 60.

So, let’s consider the mantra of “What’s Holding You Back”  (clearly a 20+-year-old perspective) from a more seasoned stance.

As a person well over 40, let me tell you “What’s Holding Me Back”:

  • I would love to consider another career field.  While it isn’t entirely impossible that I make the switch, the reality is that I am currently in a field where I am required to have at least a graduate degree.  The cost of this for me: $46,000. I have about 15 years to pay this off while I try to feed and clothe my children on a salary that is a fraction of what most other professional people make. I can’t possibly consider taking out more loans for a career field switch, especially when the likelihood is that I cannot have these loans paid off before I retire in my current profession.  It is wishful thinking to believe that I can completely jump ship on the professional field I’ve been in since 1985, and think I’m A.) going to be able to fund this life change, and B.) be able to pay off the debt in the time I have left to work.  This is just not going to happen.  The reality of economics and time hold me back here.
  • I would love to sell everything I own, find a job in a BIG CITY (read San Francisco Bay Area or something really decadent back on the East Coast), but the reality is this:  I have children.  My children have friends and lives that I have to consider in every decision I make.  I can’t just quit my job and move.  I have to consider how that’s going to roll with the kids that the respective ex’s.  (Yeah, I hate that part.)

The  reality is, no one is completely in charge of their destiny.  At 20, I might have had more freedom to make more choices.  At a much older age, this is not the case.  I now have children, ex’s, significant others, and employers to consider…and if you think considering the employer isn’t important consider this:  I work in a career field where, if I move, I take a significant pay cut and I lose the security of knowing I have a job in years to come. I’m sorry, but I have children to feed, clothe, and hopefully prepare and send to college.  Me, as a single mother of four,  taking a pay cut, or even risking it, is so not an option.

So…what’s holding me back?

Really?  You’re kidding me, right?

Because that’s the question a 20-something would pose.

What’s holding me back is my obligation to the other people in my life that I am responsible for and the reality is, I can’t just ditch that for something that works for me, but fails them. So, I remain in a place, that I like, but I don’t “LOVE” and I do a job that I love in a place that is, at times, troublesome and which makes me wonder if there isn’t something  better elsewhere…yet…I endure it, not because I have no desire to change, but because it is best for those who depend upon me.   All of this is holding me back from what I would personally love to be doing…if I had my druthers.

The reality is, I am responsible to others and for others, and it is no longer just about me. I cannot make these  decisions in a vacuum, excluding their input or perspectives.

So, here’s what’s holding me back:  It’s my decision to recognize that it isn’t always just about me and that sometimes, I must think of others before I think of myself, even if those choices aren’t ones I would choose in isolation.

What’s holding me back is my love for the other  important people in my life versus me choosing to make life all about me and what works for just me.

Advertisements

About Miz Insomniac

Usually, it's the kids who grow up and leave home, but Miz Insomniac switched it up. When her kids grew up she decided to make her dreams come true so she flew the nest. After making 12 trips across the pond and back to Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East in 2014-15, Miz Insomniac now qualifies as a world traveler. She hasn't quite mastered the fine art of traveling light, but she knows how to manipulate travel plans to avoid missed flights and jet lag. A former hopeless romantic turned realist, she's stateside now reinventing her life in a new city, with new opportunities, and all the challenges that come with leaving a career, traveling abroad for a year, and then returning to a world that's nothing like she left it. Her overseas travel is by no means over, it's just not as frequent. She's different now, but remains a night owl. She writes when she should be sleeping...and while you probably are.

Posted on September 1, 2012, in Wrapping My Mind Around These Things...Or Trying To and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. You may be partially referring to one of my blog posts “What’s Holding You Back.” I am close to 50 years old, I have kids in college, I have a nice home, good job that I enjoy, etc. etc., and I live my American dream everyday because of the fact that when something in my life is not the way I want it, I take the steps to change it. A defeatist attitude is easy, an attitude of achieving regardless of the obstacles is hard which is why so few people achieve what they want.

    • I am not so certain that being realistic, is necessarily being defeatist. I liked your post ( yes, it inspired mine to a degree), but while I do tend to take positive steps to improve my situation whenever possible, sometimes, the cold, hard truth is that it is just not possible. For example, were I to decide to change my career path right now, I’d have to get additional college training. This is not cheap and I won’t qualify for scholarships or grants to get it done. Neither do I have $20,000+ lying around to make it happen. I’m thus forced to take out loans, which I will not be able to pay off by retirement unless I can effectively double my salary (not likely given my demographics). It’s a long shot at best. Oh, and how do I pay the bills and deal single handedly with the expenses that four children tend to require. I would love to go back to school to study law or graphic design. The reality is, it simply isn’t a smart financial move for me at this stage of the game. It creates incredible risk for me and my family and makes it impossible for me to provide for them, which I do on my salary alone. So, that’s where the rubber meets the road. Further, I’d also like to relocate. The current area I live in has it’s advantages, but I have outgrown it, so to speak. Just picking up and moving is not something you do, without thinking it through very carefully. If I relocate, I have to take a pay cut and I could end up unemployed at a point in my life when finding work is exceptionally difficult, particularly work that supports a family of five. I’m just saying that while one might desire to make changes to improve their lot, sometimes the reality, costs, risk factors, children, etc. make these changes impossible, or if not impossible, then very, very foolish endeavors. Give me back 20 years, and the time to regroup any losses, financial or otherwise, and I’d be far more daring. Now that I’m older with four children depending solely upon me, I’m less inclined to place my happiness over their security and well being.

    • And, please, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not unhappy. I’m living an amazing dream in many ways (nice house, great job, two kids in college, bought my own house, boats, cars, etc. on my own without a spouse to help) and I’ve done this all on my income while supporting husbands and stepchildren. I’ve mostly charted my course and achieved it. I’m not complaining that life is unfair and I want it to be different but can’t make it so. I’m just saying that sometimes, what one wants conflicts with what is the right thing to do for those we are responsible to and for. In the end, I chose that, but make no mistake, it is clearly wishful thinking that “nothing” holds me back. Could I do these things? Sure. Do I want to risk it and jeopardize everything I’ve worked for on a crap shoot? Not at this stage of the game.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: