When I Grow Up

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the future lately. One reason surely is because of the death of one of my uncles earlier this month.  I wasn’t particularly close to him, but there was a time when his family and mine spent a lot of time together. Most of my extended family lives in northern Minnesota, but this uncle and his family lived in the Twin Cities for a significant amount of my childhood. I’m pretty sure those two cousins are the only ones I had personal nicknames for (I have no reason to think they’ll ever read this, but I won’t take the chance of embarrassing them by telling you those nicknames).

In any case, a death, especially one of someone relatively young (my uncle was 57, but had suffered from MS for about 20 years and his death wasn’t a complete shock), sometimes makes you think about your future. My uncle was diagnosed at about the age I am now (I’m really not sure when exactly, but I vaguely recall it was around the time I finished high school); what would I do if the same happened to me now?

And then there’s that thing where my 20-year high school reunion is coming up this summer. Part of me thinks it could be really fun to catch up with people. I haven’t kept in touch with anyone I graduated with, though I’ve reconnected with a few in recent years, which has been fun. But I’m also a little freaked out by having to admit how little I’ve done with my life. I don’t think marriage and/or kids are everything, but not only do I not have either of those, I also don’t have a wonderful career or some other thing I’m super passionate about either. As I wrote in an email to one of those friends from high school I reconnected with not so long ago:

How do I explain why it took me eight years to just get my bachelor’s, and 12 years after that, I’m just figuring out I really should go back and get a master’s? That I only got my own place less than two years ago? And no, never married, no kids… Yes, in fact, I am turning into the crazy cat lady spinster… Except I can’t possibly be doing that, because I haven’t actually figured out what I want to do when I grow up yet.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that last bit: what do I want to do when I grow up? There’s nothing wrong with my job. I like it well enough, and there’s no reason I couldn’t do it until it’s time to retire. But I’m not sure I want to, and more importantly, I feel like there’s something else I’m meant to do. Is the answer to go back to school and get a master’s in something? Is there some other dream I haven’t realized that I should pursue?

I hope I can figure it out soon.

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