So, this year I turned 27. Normally I am not the kind of person who thinks a lot about my age, or feels the biological clock ticking or stuff like that. I am much too young to do the ridiculous pretending-I'm-younger routine, but I can't imagine myself being that way even when I'm older. But for some reason, being 27 is making me think a lot about age.
Yesterday, the day my brother turned 30(!), my last grandparent passed away. Just last week we lost Dr. Kevorkian, so I've been thinking a lot about assisted suicide (not for myself, just in general). Especially when I remember my other grandmother - the penultimate grandparent - being in one of those special care homes for old people who really can't look after themselves or be left alone. I used to go there and see rows of old people in wheelchairs lined up in front of the TV, staring, drooling, not really there. My grandmother herself had checked out a few months before - in the last year before her death it wasn't really her we were visiting - she was already gone. It was her still-living body, with the strange consciousness of an infant. My mother hated the idea of that place, the way that as a society we have no problem "warehousing old people". And yet Dr. Kevorkian is still a widely reviled figure. People get old though. We need to accept it.
I guess the reflections on age started earlier this year, when my mother had an accident that forced my siblings and me to face the mortality of our own parents. Our beloved family cat had just died, marking the end of an era in the life of our little unit. Suddenly the three of us were grown people, on our own, out in the world. My parents are still living of course, but it's very different to live away, to chat over Skype and have no familiar Sunday dinners. We are adults now.
And so I am starting to find myself, if not unhappy with where I am at this point, at 27, then at least a little restless. I just found out that Johann Hari - whom I had always pictured as a wise, older fellow not unlike my own father - is only five years older than me. I feel unaccomplished. I have been thinking particularly about my activism in the context of my work, and wondering about whether a commitment to working in a field that I care about is enough, or whether perhaps it would be more personally satisfactory to be doing actual tasks that I was good at and cared about. And if that's possible.
I know it maybe sounds like I'm leaving my job at the clinic, but that's not really on the table - at least not right now. But hopefully in August I will know where we will be living next, and at that point I have some decisions to make. Not knowing what I want to be when I grew up was kind of charming at 22, but now it's making me a little nervous.
Just some thoughts.
As a 34 year old who is going back to college in the fall, I get the notion of wanting to know what you'll be when you're grown up. Know that there are those of us on the other side of your age who admire what you have done already, and are looking forward to what you'll be doing next!
" I have been thinking particularly about my activism in the context of my work, and wondering about whether a commitment to working in a field that I care about is enough, or whether perhaps it would be more personally satisfactory to be doing actual tasks that I was good at and cared about. "
Oh boy, I totally know what you mean! The jobs that have been the most meaningful to me in a values-based way (counselor, hotline responder, clinical assistant) are not really the jobs that make use of my best strengths, but I learn to do them as well as possible because I care so much about what they achieve for clients. My particular best talents, unfortunately, are better suited to not-so-urgent things like health research, policy analysis, legal writing... Honestly, this tension challenges me constantly. So I hear you. I wish there were more ways to combine a bit of each in a sustainable full-time employment situation, but that's rare.
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