Statue of Freedom, Arts and Industries Building, Smithsonian Institution

I’m in a constant battle with my brain when it comes to feeling satisfied with where I am in life. But rather than lament the many life paths I’ve missed (mostly because of tending to my needs, or prioritizing certain of my values), such as missing out on financial security and losing home ownership, I need to realize that I’ve worked to create a life that my mental health required, and one that built relationships rather than capital, filled my need for interactions rather than a resume. I think I need to mourn the other life options I did not take, while reminding myself of how miserable I would be and would have been if I’d taken them. And then I need to move on.

Considering the paths I chose rather than the ones I didn’t take, I’m left with amazing relationships with my kids; a partner who knows, understands, and celebrates me, just as I am; and meaningful friendships and connections with hundreds and hundreds of people (mostly online but a few local). I have flexibility in my schedule, and freedom to live pretty much wherever, if I choose to.

I need to get it out of my head that our lives need to build toward something, rather than just experience different chapters, each one important and unique. I am excited for what my next chapter will bring. I just don’t know what it will look like. With parenting no longer being my most important job, where should I put my energy?

Though some paths are closed to me (such as any work that requires a lot of work experience in a focused area), there are still so many open to me. I just have to figure out which ones appeal to me the most. And remember to focus on what I have, not on what I don’t have.

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