I have a friend who’s on the front end of what promise to be two really tough years. She just started grad school and is feeling like all of the work is slowly—maybe even quickly—pushing the rest of her life aside, like she’s losing parts of herself as she devotes her attention to this one interest.
I know just how she feels. Not only because I crammed a master’s degree into one year and two summers (working as a research assistant along the way), but also because I find myself in that spot right now. In fact, I wonder if adult life isn’t basically a string of those spots—moments when everything seems to revolve around a single job, pursuit, hobby, relationship…
I couldn’t help but comment after reading an especially frustrated blog post of hers. Here’s what I said:
"Remember that you don’t have to live all of your life right now. I’m experiencing the very same thing but in a different phase. I keep wondering if I’ll be the same person when I emerge from stay-at-home mom world. I wonder if in feeding the mother I’m killing the thinker. But I don’t think it works that way.
Like Solomon said, “To everything there is a season…” This is the season of school. There will be a season for cooking and for wife-ing and for whatever else matters to you. And those seasons will be enriched because of this one. If you starve this part of you, it’ll always be inside you, hungry, taking away from the fulfillment you’d otherwise certainly find in other things.”
I don’t post this here, because I think I’ve brilliantly solved something, but because my response was an exploration. Re-reading it, I think it’s true.
I don’t regret spending hour after hour of my teenage years daydreaming about Justin and forgetting geometry. I don’t regret killing myself to get through school. I don’t regret giving up my job and house and friends to go to New York.
All of these life phases required me to ignore parts of myself for a time. The Jennifer who loves cows and cotton fields didn’t so much love New York, but the Jennifer who loves motion and energy and diversity couldn’t get enough. Truthfully, I liked math, but another part of me liked Justin. For eight years I poured over math. For four years I poured over Justin.
And now, I’m devoting myself to my girls, to raising them, making them happy, teaching them stuff. There are lots of things I’m not doing because I’ve chosen to do this one thing—further schooling, serious writing, purposeful reading, taking showers. But that’s fine. There will be time.
And if there’s not?
I won’t regret doing something I loved wholeheartedly.