Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We've Reached the End of the Line, I Hope Your Dreams Turn Out Fine

I read this article the other day and I have to admit, it threw me for a bit of a loop. The idea that because I'm 35, it's time to pack it in and resign myself to the life I currently have at first kind of pissed me off. Apparently, gone are the days when I can chase the impossible dreams of my youth or even the last few years because time's up, buddy! Sorry if you missed the boat, but this shit here is for the young. Move along Ma'am!!

On the surface, that might not seem to be such a bad thing. After all, 35 is technically middle age. And, what's wrong with laying down roots, settling down and playing the cards you've been dealt by life? Besides, if you haven't done it by 35, are you ever really going to do it? Seriously, am I ever going to get into a bikini again or hike the Appalachian Trail, or learn to surf or live in a foreign country? Isn't it time to grow up and put aside foolish things and just live a normal life?

As someone who didn't really discover what they wanted to do until after the age of 30, I feel like I arrived a bit late to the party. I spent so much of my twenties battling doubt, uncertainty, grief and a lot of other bullshit that precluded me from finding something I loved to do, let alone running with the bulls or climbing Kilimanjaro. But, now that I love my job and I have a man that I love, suddenly I have to give up the idea of conquering the rest of my life's dreams because it's "too late"?

The idea of closing the door on anything kind of freaks me out. Leaving options open (to a certain extent, anyway) seems like a prudent thing to do. It can sometimes be a bit paralyzing, but I'd rather have more choices than none at all. But, recently, me and the man have made a big decision on that front. We are closing the door on having babies one day.

When I married at 22, everyone told me there was plenty of time for me to come around to the idea of having children. As the years went on, I waited for those feelings to come. And, waited. And, waited. But, they never came. Over the years, having kids came up only in the most hypothetical of sense. We'd joke about what we'd name our fictional children, but when the harsh reality of what raising a child would mean, we were on the same page. It was just too, too, too much. Over the years, we decided on a deadline. By the age of 35, it would be deciding time. It was just to give us some more time to let the baby rabies take hold. Well, 35 has come and we are still no closer to wanting to take the enormous step of having kids. So, for the first time in a long time, we're closing the door to one of life's options.

But, as that door closes, another has been pushed wide open. While many people in my life are concerned with what school district to live in or where to send their adorable progeny to pre-school, we'll have no such considerations. In fact, we'd like to divest ourselves of the roots we have laid down and leave the place we've called home for nearly 10 years. The desire for new horizons is a palpable ache that has taken me by surprise. Ideally, those horizons are very, very far away. But, is it too late to let the tornado take us out of Kansas and drop us smack dab in the middle of Oz? Conventional wisdom would say so. . .

So, that is where I'm at right now. Standing in the middle of 35, wondering if it's too late to turn back or if going forward into more of the same is the only option. The truth is, I just don't know. I'm hoping that I'm not too old or too far along the journey to change directions. Only time will tell, but I'd like to believe I'm not quite done causing trouble yet. We shall see . . .


Janine Ashbless said...

All I can say is that I've done more, pushed myself out of my safety zone more, had better sex, fulfilled more dreams (and fantasies!) and been happier since I turned forty, than at any previous stage in my life. Being twenty-something sucked. Being middle-aged is awesome!

And yes, we remain intentionally childless. No regrets there at all!

So take heart Heidi - it's not all over, not by a long chalk! Good luck on your journeys, physical and metaphorical: you're going to be amazing :-)

Heidi Champa said...

Thank you so much, Janine. That's exactly what I wanted to hear!

And, thank you for the lovely vote of confidence!

Erobintica said...

Heidi, my life was so different at 35 than it is now (54) that it's not even funny. Stay put? Nothing stays put, not even rocks (there's erosion and earthquakes and landslides, etc.). Life is change. I don't think I'll be reading that article, LOL.

As for kids or no kids, as long as you both feel good about your decision, then, that's the right one.

Heidi Champa said...

Thanks, Robin!! It's always nice to get other perspectives on things.

Willsin Rowe said...

I second Janine's comment. I can't think of any way to say this without talking about myself for a moment, so please forgive the hijack!

From the age of 13 I wanted to make music. I knew it would bring me satisfaction (and I hoped that it would bring me fame!)

When I reached 35, the fame thing hadn't happened, and I was okay with that. What I didn't like was that I knew I was capable of more in music than I was doing. I was in a very ordinary covers band, playing roughly once a month in a backwater Brisbane suburb.

At age 36 (almost 37) I joined up with the band I'm currently in, playing original music that really means something to me. And that band has since reached far greater heights than anything I did before.

Similarly, I only decided to dip my toe in the hot water of erotica at the age of 35. My big successes in that field are still small, but they have all come after the age of 38. I started creating cover art at the age of 40. It's going crazy at the moment!

So...I haven't read the article that you posted. I don't think I want to. The idea that we should give up on goals and dreams at ANY age is slightly repellent to me.

I hope you and your man find the Oz you're looking for, ma'am.

Frank Anthony Polito said...

Well said, Heidi! I've always considered myself a "late bloomer." Perhaps a bit naive, when I moved to NYC to pursue an acting career at age 25, I felt I wasn't "old enough" and that no one would take me seriously. I still needed to "grow up." (Why would ANYONE trust a 25-year-old with a role on Broadway or in a movie?)

Today at 41, I'm STILL doing that. (Who is going to hire me to write for a TV show when I'm not "old enough?") Why I've always equated age with experience, I'm not sure.

The sad reality -- esp. of the entertainment biz is they (whoever THEY are!) WANT you to be "young." It's almost as if THEY don't trust you if you haven't "made it" by 30.

I didn't even start writing until I was 31 (unless you count the "novel" I wrote at age 14). My first novel wasn't published until I was almost 38. And yet -- I still feel like I'm not "ready" to be "successful."

So why should I GIVE UP on my dreams just because I haven't achieved them yet?

I did spend this past weekend contemplating taking a "real" job which I was certain would FORCE me to give up my dreams of being a full-time writer. It was the worst 48 hours of my life -- which made me realize, I can NOT live a life doing what I HAVE to do. I must do what I WANT to do!

Heidi Champa said...

Willsin, thanks so much for your insight. The article was in one of your country's fine newspapers, but there is no need to read it. You're not missing anything.

As far as our Oz goes, it's pretty much right under your feet. Who knows if it will ever work out, but that's the dream. Think you could put in a good word with your country for us?

Heidi Champa said...

Frank, I'm so glad you decided against taking a real job. That is never the answer. :)

Thanks for your perspective on things! It seems I've touch a nerve with quite a few people. Which was the idea.

Hope all is well with you.