Saturday, June 03, 2006

Mid-Twenties Crisis

Last night while I was with some friends/wretches I do not see very often, we talked about our mid-twenties crisis, brought on in a particular way by being around or talking about our friends who are already living their vocations (beautifully, might I add). It especially comes on when said friends are younger than you. By years.

We didn't talk too much in depth about it but I'll try to articulate my frustrations and they can affirm or deny them.

  • I'm tired of moving. Basically, I'm tired of temporary homes. You move somewhere, live there for a year, then at least one roommate gets married, the house changes, or you don't have a job and have to move home again, only to be wondering when you'll be able to move out once more and who you can live with who isn't guaranteed to be getting married a year from now, all the while secretly hoping one day it will be you.
  • When you go to parties with your married-with-children friends (who you LOVE), you're pretty much the only single woman there and may even be asked, "Where is your husband?" (true story- I should have replied, "You tell me!")
  • You get lots of comments from you family and friends along the lines of, "But you're such a catch! What's wrong with those guys?" Which you appreciate but at the same time wonder about because it can't really be all their fault, can it?
  • Many conversations go like this, "Do you ever hear from so-and-so?" "Oh, yeah! She's engaged- it's coming up next month." or "Yeah she's entering the CFRs in a week"
  • You have many many many girl friends who are all in the same boat as you, and you love being with them but you have to laugh about having a "girls' night" because every night is a girls' night.
  • And finally... You have to sit in a cublicle for hours to make money to pay rent for your temporary living situation and discuss "career options" and try to sell yourself, all the while thinking, "Actually, all I want to do is get married and have children."

Along those lines, I'll relate a story from my junior year of college. I received a letter in campus mail saying that I'd been nominated for some kind of award/scholarship program. There were a million steps, and I had to go to the dean's office to be interviewed. I went to her office, having no real idea what I was in for. She said congratulations and some nice things about my studies, and then asked the question I knew was coming but still dreaded, "What do you want to do?" I froze. By this point I had figured out that the most important thing in my life was my faith, and that I really wanted to help people. Something vague. I didn't know how to answer her question adequately and I think I literally said, "I don't know; I'm not sure." She said, "That is not an acceptable answer for an intelligent young woman." and proceeded to lecture me on that fact and how she couldn't possibly recommend me for anything if I could not answer such a simple question.

I said, I agree. Keep it; I don't want it! And left in tears. I recall with perfect clarity that I just wanted to say, "I just want to get married and have a family!" but knew that that would go over even worse than "I don't know", if that was possible. That reaction actually surprised me at the time- particularly because I wasn't raised at all to consciously think that that was most important. It was never a question in my house whether I'd go to college or whether I was expected to do something with my mind. Of course I was! School was important, and finding something you loved to do was as well. I also never dated anyone so it's not as if I was always thinking about it or actively "husband hunting." But faced with the question by a stranger I found the answer in myself.

Three years later I'm wondering if it was just me, or the Holy Spirit, or both. That's where the mid-twenties crisis comes in. How do you know if you're doing God's will or just seeking your own desires. Because this time of our life is inherently selfish. The only person you're responsible for... is you. You're not really accountable to anyone else; You're not bound to a person, place, even country. You could go anywhere, at any time, for any reason, if you have the means to do it. Yikes.

4 comments:

Devin Rose said...

From a mid-twenties Catholic man's perspective: The kind of woman that you are and have desired to be for long years is exactly the kind of woman that I hoped for and searched for diligently to be my future wife. God (finally) led me to her, and I am engaged to be married to Katie--I know y'all would be friends if we lived in the same town!

I just want to encourage you that there are many young Catholic guys out there looking for their future wives and prizing the virtues and holy desires that you embody.

As you are already doing, be open to meeting him and letting him find you, with all your womanly charm and grace and keep praying for him, since the evil one does not want you to be married and have a holy family and will especially attack men in different ways to prevent his growth in Christ and to discourage him from trying to find you, his future wife.

May Christ bless you this Pentecost and the Holy Spirit accomplish the fulfillment of your vocation!

Anne said...

Sr. Earth - Even though I've so recently left the ranks of the single twenty-somethings, I very well remember being in college and having the constant question "What do you want to do?" I remember literally thinking up things that I wouldn't mind doing so I could answer these people without lying to them and without telling them what I really wanted to do (married, family) because, of course, that answer is never good enough for some reason...

I will increase my prayers for all my wretched sisters still seeking their vocations and/or husbands! Just remember it is so worth the pain and frustration of waiting, once you get there!

joe said...

Earthie,
It seems like everyone I know has a post like this these days. Me included. Post graduation anxiety? Maybe.
A crisis, though, is a state that exceeds our usual capacity for coping -- something that throws us seriously off-kilter and leaves us leaning on unhealthy behavior. I hope that's not where you are.
I suspect it's not. I could be wrong, but I wonder if you're feeling something like what I'm feeling: a little impatient due to the fact that life, and God's influence over it, takes time. It's hard waiting. Keep praying. Keep being the holy girl that we love.

Mary Poppins NOT said...

I can really identify with your post. I got married in my late twenties, and bewteen my college graduation and my wedding, I had many moments of "crisis". Looking back now, though, I wish I had been more grateful for that time in my life. Since marrying and rapidly having seven children, then waking up one day realizing I have a teenager and I am 40 years old, that pause in the frantic pace of life was the only one I got. God gave it to me for a purpose, I believe, and I wished it away frequently while impatiently waiting for my life to begin. Suprise! My life was in full gear then, and now, when I am frequently overwhelmed with the responsibilites I have, I fall back on the things I found comfort in "back in the day". Reading, music, prayer, art, study, cooking, forging lasting friendships, and resting easy with myself. Those things are gifts I was given by God, who know how sorely I would need them later.

Just keep living each day to the fullest, and don't look too far into the future ~ except to keep your eyes on heaven. No matter where life takes you, there will be many times of lonliness, uncertainty, fear, discouragement. Those things don't go away just because you are married with children. Become dependent on God for your comfort now, and then whatever is placed in front of you through you life, you will be prepared.

I don't mean to preach, but your post went straight to my heart. Blessings to you!