Friday, June 11, 2010

Re-Entry Woes.

So where have I been lately? That's a question with no easy explanation. I'll start with my weekly Free Will horoscope:

"If you have long conversations with the image in the mirror this week, I won't call you a megalomaniacal narcissist. Nor will I make fun of you if you paint 15 self-portraits, or google yourself obsessively, or fill an entire notebook with answers to the question "Who am I, anyway?" In my astrological opinion, this is an excellent time for you to pursue nosy explorations into the mysteries of your core identity. You have cosmic permission to think about yourself with an intensity you might normally devote to a charismatic idol you're infatuated with."

The mysteries of core identity. Who am I anyway?

I might not be having long conversations in the mirror, but I sure have been talking to myself a lot lately.

Figuring out who we are is often referred to as a process of "finding oneself." For me, it feels more like a process of elimination. Take all of the things I could possible be and gather them up. Some of the identities were easy to get rid of. Some of them I had to experience to realize whether they fit or not. Some of them I didn't realize existed until after experiences of extreme joy or fear.

Being diagnosed with cancer was like having my existing slate wiped almost completely clean. Which is simultaneously a blessing and a curse.

In the times BC (before cancer), I lived this frenetic, competitive, structured existence that I thought suited me to a "T". I did what I thought I was supposed to do: college, law school, got a good white-collar job. I got married (and yes, divorced), bought a place to live and incurred some good old fashioned American debt. I trained and raced and won things. Life was a whirlwind of billable hours, training rides, take-out and happy hour.

I thought I had everything I wanted. But after spending the last few months thinking about other things and doing other things, it is apparent that this pre-BC existence won't work for my in the times post-BC. The times where the simplest things are making me the happiest: cooking, sewing, reading, spending time with friends and moving my body just for the sake of moving.

Instead of being a liberating thought, this scares me to death. Since I went back to work and realized that the break has not reawakened any enthusiasm for my current career, there are frequent moments where I'm paralyzed by dead and anxiety. Thirty-three year old women should not tear up with dread at the thought of being lonely and bored in their offices. Yet, this is exactly what I did on Monday morning.

Knowing that things need to change is easy. Figuring out what to do next is terrifying. But something has to give. I know that I would be wasting my newly discovered (and precious)state of cancer enlightenment if I just went back to the status quo at the end of treatment. And the status quo will not keep me healthy in the long-run. I am sure of that.

People change careers all of the time. ALL OF THE TIME. They go back to school and start businesses and write books. They take risks despite the odds. There is nothing about who I am that makes this impossible for me. I might not feel like I have many useful skills, but I can learn to do anything...I can write a book, run a bike shop, rule the world, own the Internet...if I can get out of my own way long enough to get started

So here's the Catch-22. While cancer has given me the gift of enlightenment, is is also a big impediment to following through on change. I have to keep my health insurance and need a steady stream of income to pay for food, my mortgage and what will be a lifelong stream of doctor's bills. And my chronic bike habit...nothing about that will ever change.

I've talked about this with a couple of people this week and they both pointed out that getting physically healthy should be my first priority right now, that the lifestyle changes will work themselves out. This is true, but getting healthy means not only becoming cancer free, but getting my other ducks in a row so that I am happy, anxiety-free and, ultimately, stay cancer-free. And procrastinating and doing nothing is not exactly moving me in the right direction.



traci said...

I know you are ready to take that next leap... or maybe just taking the time to put the right stepping stones in place so they are well founded when you Do leap... and if I had any idea which one to tell you to set out I would! but I hear you ~ I feel where you are at, what you are considering, and if nothing else I'll whip out my pompoms & cheer you on as soon as you are ready. {hugs}

Kristin said...

Many people start their businesses and side projects while holding down full time jobs. I'm not sure how many hours you're working now, but if you could keep your less than full time gig, then you should be golden to start a new venture. i can certainly help you with info about small businesses and start ups, since that's what i've spent the last year learning all about :)

Scott Lommers said...

You're too young for a midlife crisis. You're also too young to stay at a job you hate for the rest of your life. Make a careful, thoughtful decision about the career and then don't look back.

Jeff Tedder said...

Lindsay, you kind of know my story, being in the Crane business for 27 years and being stressed out and working way to many hours and knowing that if I did not change that my life would funnel downhill in major health problems for sure from the stress. That's when I decided that making a shit load of money was not the most important thing in my life any longer, I needed to be happy and stress free. So about 8 years ago I made that happen, and as they say never looked back. Things always have a way of working out and being mentally happy with yourself as far as your work and income has a huge place in how healthy you stay. I think all the time how lucky I am not to stress over work, it makes all the difference in the world. I will always be there to help you in anyway i can as you know....see ya

Anonymous said...

Your gift of cancer may be your beacon...

The beginning of my 2008 cross season started with a diagnosis of stomach cancer. A surgery and a year of cancer drug that left me weak and anemic. I rode thru it but didn't have enough to race.

I got off the drug and a clean bill of health in Nov. 2009. I coasted thru the year end with beers and bowl games and started training Jan. 1st 2010 in earnest.
I'm cranking it and haven't looked back.

My has many curves and unexpected thangs, but regardless it rolls along.

I think we all know down deep what is right for us. Sometimes the best option has some reality keeping your health insurance when you're a surviving cancer patient.

Live your life with love in your heart and your ass on fire. Be your own best friend.

"The future's uncertain, and the end is always near" - Jim Morrison (Roadhouse Blues)

Doug said...

The only thing I could add would be that if there is anyone that can do anything they want and suceed, it is you. You are very intelligent, determined, focussed and a planner. You just have to find what makes you happy and run with it. It may absorb more time than you currently spend on your career, but you will gladly do it and smile. You have a big support network, who I am sure will stand behind you. I, for one, would never bet against you. I hope you find that thing or things that leave you feeling rewarded. Stress ain't worth the price.