I spent my 20's in a romantic relationship, and trying to figure out how to earn a living -- I did a job I did not like for four years. During that time, I was applying for other jobs, looking into different career fields, and looking at graduate schools. Then I was earning a master's degree for two years, then I was unemployed, temping, and jobhunting for two years.
In my 30's, I had a job I loved. My romantic relationship ended, and I think that created more room in my life for friends. In my 30s, because I loved my job, I didn't have to devote my energy outside my job to trying to find some other way to earn a living, so when I wasn't at my job, I could just enjoy my life. I had friends. I went hiking. I had always loved cross country skiing, but now I learned downhill skiing. I learned rollerblading. I went to contra dances. I took dance classess -- ballroom, swing, modern, jazz. I volunteered at concerts pretty much every week. I went sledding. I threw snowballs at my friends. My friends and I dressed up in Halloween costumes. We read children's books aloud to each other. We did the limbo. We drove around aimlessly singing along to the car radio.
As my 30's came to an end, so did that phase of my life. The friends disappeared. I ceased liking my job. I got sick. When I lost my health, I had already lost my friends and my love for my job, so when I lost my health, there was little left. (I do have a good family, though I don't live near them.)
The first half of my 40s was spent struggling to rebuild my life. I went back to constantly looking for a better way to earn a living, as I had in my 20s -- both applying for jobs and exploring career fields. Longing to hike, dance, and ski but not having as much strength as I used to, I tried to fill in the emptiness with mellower activities -- tai chi, Nia, yoga, gardening, nature walks. I did activities that engaged my mind but didn't require being in a particular place at a particular time, so that I could adjust my activity in accordance with my energy level -- compiling photos, compiling playlists, taking online classes. I was introspective, pursuing pantheism, druidry, meditation, blogging. I made one new friend -- someone I talk to on the phone all the time, but don't see much outside of the phone. I wasn't really up to having friends who expected me to go out and do things.
In the second half of my 40s, I've been struggling to emerge, struggling to go back to a life like the one in my 30s. I joined one group in fall 2010, which ended up going defunct, but it led me to meet some good people, and led me to another group that I joined in December 2011. Then I joined another activity in spring 2012, one which I got involved in through a contact with someone I knew in my 30's, and which has led me back to many of the people and activities from my 30s, while at the same time opening a whole new world of people and activities.
In this phase of struggling to emerge, sometimes struggle seems to be the operative word, while other times, emerging seems to be the operative word. On the emerging side, there are so many things I love to do, and so many people I'd like to get to know better. On the struggle side, I'm tired, I still have to keep going to the job I hate, and although I've met some really cool people, I haven't entirely connected with them and been able to be myself with them.
Still I struggle. I hope I can find my way out of the cocoon and into the world of joy.