Looking at the thinning skin on my hands, the creping around my knuckles and veins starting to show through my translucent skin not only in color but texture, I know I’m well into adulthood. My wedding earlier this year was a bit of a shock as it was the end of a prolonged young adulthood, years of being stuck in that obligatory urban millennial purgatory of minimal responsibility outside of paying one’s bills and getting a modicum of sleep every night.
Then, poof, I’m a married, working women with no more childhood romantic notions to play to, no more weddings to plan, no more wonderlands to chase. Not yet a mother, but the same age of many peers who have children approaching puberty, I am still childfree and tired nonetheless from stressing out epically over job after job where I can’t quite perform at the level required for success, only relentlessly tread to try to stay above water.
Some of the exhaustion comes from the fact that lately I’ve been traveling a lot for work, getting home at 10pm, waking up early for flights, and never quite getting enough sleep. But a huge part of the exhaustion comes from the stress of caring more than I probably should about certain aspects of my job and not enough about others. I feel my body breaking down — I’ve gained 40 pounds in the last 7 months, which is 10 beyond the 30 I lost for my wedding. I feel like shit. I look like shit. I can’t be a good wife or think about having children now, I’m struggling more and more every week, and I don’t know what to do about it.
Some friends suggest I go to a larger company — simplify my role — take a lower salary — clock in and clock out and stop trying to be a hero for all women everywhere. So what if I’m paid less than men or if I never see $200k salary in my career? Why am I doing this to myself? I’ve just told myself over and over again that if you work for a for-profit business, it’s your job as a salaried employee to be paid for the value you add, not how many years you’ve worked or a perfect track record.
I know if I keep going like this, life will pass me by and I’ll be an old woman before I can blink. I don’t want that to happen. I’m 33, nearly 33-and-a-half, which is nearly 34 and very close to 35 and close enough to 40 that I feel sick to my stomach when I take a moment in the day to contemplate how fast it’s all going. Somehow you go from 10 to 11 to 12 to 13 to 15 to 18 to 21 to 25 to 30 to 40 and then most of your life may be behind you, give or take a few years. Everyone says it goes fast and it really does. No one tells reminds you that many of the people you love will be gone by the time you’re 40, and that’s why life is really the best before you turn 18, when, if you’re lucky, everyone you know and care about is around in one piece.
I need a break but I won’t get one until I have a kid… which, obviously isn’t much of a break. Or, if I get laid off and I don’t have a job lined up, which seems to be the only way I am able to take a break. I don’t like breaking either, as I don’t know what to do with myself. I just miss childhood, and time being on my side…