Wandering at 30

Welp, I be on the move again.

After nearly 2 years of living in Kenora, life has presented me with an opportunity that I really could not refuse. For a while (or rather, as always), I have been thinking a lot about what to do and where to go next. When I moved to Kenora in January 2020, I knew it would not be my forever home. I wasn’t even sure what my plan was, I had no 5-year goal, to the horror of all those that abide by these types of rules.

No, when I moved to Kenora, rather than setting goals, I had set 2 intentions:

  • Give myself a year in my role as nurse practitioner to just get on my feet (at that point, I had not worked as a NP for 6 months and I was terrified to take on that role again for fear of burning out. I was seriously considering whether it was the career for me … admittedly, this is an ongoing question for me)
  • Make the most of what the region has to offer, because who knows if I will ever get the chance to live in a region like Northwestern Ontario again!

The other thing I was forced to make peace with when I moved to Kenora from southern Ontario was that my social life would take a hit, and especially my dating life. I knew that moving to a small town, especially as an adult, would present some challenges.

I think for those reasons, when the pandemic hit in March 2020, I was not entirely devastated. I had already let go of specific goals and rather than grasping onto the way things “should be”, my approach was to just surrender and enjoy to things as they were. This has served me well. And this will continue to be my intention as I move on to this next chapter of my life.

Although moving to Kenora was fairly spontaneous (I went from not knowing Kenora existed to living there within 4 short weeks), I had the certainty of a job and a place to live. I wasn’t sure how long I’d hold on to either of those things, but I knew it would be for at least a few months.

This time around, as I am embarking on this next adventure, there is even less certainty about where I will end up, about what my life will look like. It is both terrifying and exhilarating.

The job I landed is virtual, meaning I can work from anywhere within the country (granted I abide by provincial nursing college regulations). It is also contract work, meaning I am not forced to work any set amount of hours per week – I get to choose how much or how little I work. And finally the pay is very generous, meaning I don’t need to work a “full time” 40 hours to make ends meet.

It feels too good to be true. I was actually overcome by anxiety when I was first recruited because the sheer expanse of opportunities and options was not something I was used to, it felt overwhelming. But with time, I have found comfort in this freedom. I have had to really feel within myself to identify what matters to me, what Michèle needs and values. It’s like that exercise when someone asks you: if money weren’t a barrier, if location wasn’t a concern, what would you do?

But I tell you, doing that exercise in real life is something else. For most of my life I have relied on what was expected of me, on the well beaten path, on the cultural norm to help me decide what to do. But as I have come to understand, and as I have written about, following the cultural norm has not felt great for me, it has not been healthy for me.

Just because I have this knowledge now about what works for me and was does not, and I have this amazing opportunity, it is still hard to trail blaze my own path, one that looks so different to most of my peers back home. Often, I wonder why I couldn’t just be happy with a “normal” life. Why couldn’t I just make it work with my ex? Why couldn’t I just be happy with a job? Why couldn’t I just freaking commit and settle, already? Why am I so damn restless and insatiable? Will I ever be happy or am I just doomed to forever wander through life alone until the day I die?

I try not to let myself get too caught up in these thought patterns – they often show up when I am stuck in a dorsal vagal state (nervous system dysregulation). Who gets to define what a “normal” life is, anyway? Is a normal life one where I feel empty? One where I just go through the motions for the sake of going through the motions? One where I prioritize fitting in over being authentic? One where I choose certainty over joy? One where financial and material gain win over my health and well being? And who gets to define “happiness”? Because I have followed the recipe outlined by capitalism and so far, that’s not what has filled my soul and left me with gushy, whole feelings.

No.

I do so desperately want to find a place to rest for a long while, a place to call home, and especially a special someone to call home. What I have come to realize is that my way there is just a little winding, because I have this insatiable need to explore – to explore myself and to explore my life. To not leave a stone unturned. To stop and smell the roses as I go. To pause and rest when I need it. To do things my own stubborn way.

With all the cultural rules that exist (both the larger culture of which I am apart, but also my immediate family and friend’s culture), I feel this trepidation about what I am doing at the ripe age of 30.

It feels at times irresponsible to leave a steady job full of benefits. To sell most of my things at a loss. To take what I can with me in my civic and drive even farther away from my home to hop from city to city in the hopes of finding my forever home. There is no certainty. This road is filled with risk.

When I sat down with my manager a few weeks ago to announce my resignation, I felt really scared. I wondered whether this was all just a big mistake. Yet when I told my manager about this new opportunity, they said to me “You are so young! Now is the time to do this!”.

Me? Young? It’s funny how easy it is to get caught up in the time line society has set up for us and to feel like we are behind, like we are failing. Or to feel like we are “too old” to do something. Admittedly, I am really starting to believe I want children and the reality is that there is, biologically speaking, a bit of a time line there. But still, there is a part of me that wants to explore and that believes there is still more out there; more to see, more people to meet, more experiences to have, more growth, more discovery, more healing.

I was speaking with a family member last night and they asked me how I was doing and I shared with them that I had this feeling of trepidation and that it was hard to wrap my head around the idea that I am 30 and doing this type of thing. But I also explained that going to BC is something I have thought of for a long time and so, if I settled close to home without ever exploring BC, a part of me would always wonder “what if”.

They said “Michèle, a life time is a long time to spend wondering about opportunities we didn’t explore”.

So I am doing it, wandering at 30, and working towards doing it with more peace and confidence that nothing is wrong with me. I want to trust that the decisions I am making based on what feels best, will lead to what is best for me. Trust that wandering about this life is the only way forward for me, that I don’t need to “find my way”, for I am not lost.

The journey really does matter more than the destination. After all, the destination is one and the same for all of us: death. So I prefer to wander and enjoy my journey, no matter how different it may look from that of my peers. It still feels hard and scary at times, but I suppose life is that way for most of us, no matter the path we choose to take.

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