Directionless

This feeling of not having a particular direction has been with me longer than I’d like to admit.

Though I’d gotten training for a “second act” career, I can’t seem to connect with it. I have tried at three different intervals to build some enthusiasm to get out there and change my life in drastic ways. And though in theory I like the concept of what I’d chosen, the reality tells me a different story.

I was trying to pivot. I had had a robust career in video for over 20 years. I was a freelancer, and had fallen into a niche which was dramatic and big–it evoked envy in others. I had been a concert touring video director for huge international artists and bands. I have to admit–it was amazing!

But it was hard, too. I had to leave home for sometimes months on end. There were no sick days, no guarantee that if you stepped away for an event, that you could come back. It was physically hard in more than one way. The creativity, which had been inherent in the beginning, had shriveled significantly, and instead became a situation where you just did as you were told and had a little freedom within larger confines defined by some other person on the tour. Our work became less respected and we were viewed as cogs.

So on one of the extended periods of no work, I signed up for a break-neck 10 month Master’s program for Psychology…and in Michigan, you could work as a practitioner. It all went down fast, and I loved the education I received. And though I immediately went back on a tour when school wrapped up (one of the funnest tours I had ever done!), I persisted, and got a permanent license to practice. I put it aside, but as I mentioned before, I attempted a couple of times to start a practice.

I had an office in a suburb of Detroit, anticipating a small private practice. But then my Dad had a heart attack and was in ICU. It was in the opposite direction from the office, and I had no energy or enthusiasm for trying to learn how to market my practice, while I was an emotional wreck. I closed the practice before it had a chance. I assumed the only reason I closed was to sort out what was needed from me for my family. In hindsight, I can see more clearly. More on that shortly.

For 4 months, he stayed there before he died. I had to go on a tour because I had run out of money, and it was potentially only for a short while, to fill in for someone who was struggling to clear a work visa. I couldn’t see any other options to earn money, so I begrudgingly went. The entire period was personally challenging in devastating ways, especially because the experience overlapped with a personal issue I had with a colleague who was vicious and unwelcoming (another story for another time).

Fast forward after a number of years longer staying in the video work, and my Mom was next to fall ill. (Mind you, neither one was all that aged, nor was I! I didn’t really expect to change my career until later in life, but…) And when she did, it became important to me to be able to be there for her, since my brothers had both recently left the state, and she had no one who could help her.

After a fluke had a “perfect scenario” office fall in my lap, I decided to just do it. Pull off the Band Aid and switch careers now. I hate to say it, but my Mom was not impressed, and criticized the move. She was not nice and did not mince words, and that impacted me deeply. Our relationship throughout our lives was hardly comfy, but we were dedicated to one another in codependent ways that we had complicitly agreed to.

Making a long story shorter, she is gone (and has been now for a bit longer than a year) and coronavirus has changed communities. I have now had about 2 years and change to get invested. To get really clear. And I can’t. I haven’t. I have stalled and been lazy and unmotivated.

I wish I could say I had some message to reassure you that finding direction comes easily. It does not. It takes sharp focus and painful awakenings. I am in-process now, but trying desperately to allow myself the space to discover what I need to, to make sure that I am pleased with my life when I reach the end of it.

I did come to realize not long ago that the reasons I wanted this career have changed. Some of those reasons are internal–I hate sitting. I dislike the feeling of stasis, having to stay home and be available to people perpetually, without being able to go wander the Earth with no agenda for whatever period of time I desire. I know online is a thing and so many people have tried to tell me that that is the way. But I hate it. Hate it. Cannot overstate that. I also don’t want to write or read about mental health anymore. I resent the American Medical Model. Our economy is not strong enough to provide enough private pay clients for me to cover my bills. I have adjusted and tried different things, but I know I haven’t tried as hard as I could’ve. But that is information I cannot ignore. I don’t want to. I simply cannot make myself do things I don’t enjoy.

So I am recycling my former career, but going to pivot. I am taking stock of what matters to me, and trying to blend what does to provide a creative outlet for myself, to engage in community, to make work that somehow matters, even if it isn’t clear yet. I haven’t shut down my practice, yet. I have always had few clients, and it’s manageable for now, though still not providing enough to cover my nut every month. I am quietly, slowly, deciding behind the scenes about how to shut down and move on.

But for now, I am directionless. I am not mad about it, but I am eager to move beyond it. I am finding my way. I will share more about how I want to use this space to explore this transition, and how you can be a part of this exciting journey, too!

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