Friday, December 12, 2008

What Now?

About a month ago I read Ann Patchett's book, What Now?. It's a reproduction of her graduation speech at Sarah Lawrence University, her alma mater. And she talks about crossroads and where you might look when considering your next step. I wonder if she realized how poignant this question would become in the year after the book's publication. 

In the month since reading the book, I've been considering "What Now?" almost daily. It seems that I am at an eternal crossroads in almost every area of my life. As I talk to my friends and my family I realize that many people are doing the same thing. So I thought it might be helpful to detail the way I'm framing up this question to myself in an effort to answer it as effectively as possible. 

Career: My friend, Susan, whom I consider my career guru, is always concerned about the story that our careers are weaving. And this is especially important for us 30-somethings. We have amassed a good deal of experience and expertise and we may be teetering on a taking the plunge into a higher level position a a big company, starting our own company, or making a career switch. How are those pieces weaving together into one cohesive story? When have we been happiest in our careers? What skills are we happiest exercising and what skills do we still want to polish up? These questions help me think about what's next for me. 

Relationships: A tough one for us single 30-somethings. We've likely had a number of relationships at this point. And we've gone through the highest of highs and lowest of lows in love. We've had our hearts broken, perhaps broken someone else's heart, walked away, been walked out on. We've loved and lost and loved again. Some people think this is the time to find a husband or settle in to be single for a long time to come. I don't. There's a calm that has settled in for me around love in the 30's. Either it works or it doesn't. And if it doesn't, I've given up the sadness and sulking of my 20's - it must mean that I had better get back out there because that relationship just wasn't the right one for me.

Friends: My friend, Amy, and I always talk about how important it is to get energy from our friends rather than have or energy sapped by people. My friend, Kelly, describes it as not wanting to be around people who suck our will to live. A bit dramatic? Sure. Accurate? Definitely. We have just so much time to devote to people in our lives. Make sure that each one enriches your life. It's not easy to clean out our lives of old friendships that don't work anymore - for one thing, we may find our lives have more holes than we'd like. But the good news is that if we do that we'll have more time for the people in our lives who really matter to us, and you'll be surprised what good fortune finds you when you make room in your life for it to stay awhile.

Happiness: This is the area of my life I work on the most. It effects our health, the foundation for every other area of our lives. It effects those around us. A recent study found that surrounding ourselves with happy people has enormous benefits - physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When I think about what's next in my life, the greatest consideration I give is a decision's effect on my happiness. And having that one guiding principle, light's the way. 


Kelly said...

Christa, I found your comments on friendship so special. I think you are completely right and on track that sometimes we have to let those in our life who just aren't positive go, but that letting go is often opening our heart and minds to new experiences. Hope you are well! Kelly B.

Christa said...

Hi Kelly! Thanks so much for reading my blog and for your comment. I really appreciate it. Friendship is such an interesting, dynamic thing. I've found that I have so many people who have been in my life for a long time and our friendships have grown. Whenever I let friendships fall away because they weren't working, it did open up my life to new experiences, just as you said. Good, even if difficult, lessons to learn. Hope you're well!


runner52 said...

Well done, something we can all relate to

Christa said...

Hi Runner52! Thanks for your continued reading and support of my writing. That What Now? questions always keeps me on my toes!