Do you ever work really hard for something like a graduation or a promotion, and have your mind so set on getting to the destination that the plan almost falls off once you’re there?
I remember applying for undergrad; I had been told all the things I needed to do to get into college, but no one told me how to pick one or what I was supposed to do once I got there. Like a lot of people, I had to figure it out and at some points, just wing it.
This week two people in my family are at different places in their lives and they’ve been working really hard to get there— unlike old me, they haven’t quite been winging it either. After several interviews, presentations, and too much anticipation, my twin brother is soon headed off to Iowa for a full-time job as a systems engineer! Do I know what that job looks like? No, not at all. But have I looked up where his work is, checked out the area on maps to see all the cool places and bordering states around him? Yes. And have I happily taken a few donated t-shirts he can’t take with him, absolutely.
I’m a good supportive sister, what can I say.
The other person starting down a new path is my dad. After working for more years than I’ve been alive and sleeping less than he should, maybe now he will be free to sleep all he wants and knock about the town during daylight hours because he officially entered retirement today! As a kid, I saw him work long call hours and I’ve grown up recognizing how much his work means to him, so retiring is a major step to take. That being said, now he will also have more time to learn to type with more than two fingers, understand all the shortcuts on his Mac, and appreciate his hobbies more, so it’ll be a fun new journey that’s for sure.
One where hopefully I get fewer calls about how to work his technology…
Nevertheless, these two people are taking major steps into a new part of their lives and it’s exciting but also, different. And different can be stressful, scary, anxiety-inducing, and awkward sometimes.
After all, think of your own routines and the things you are used to. What would it be like to take the centerpiece of those routines and change what it looked like or take it out altogether and then have to fill that open space? Maybe that sounds fun, like a great opportunity. Maybe it also sounds overwhelming.
It’s been a bit like all of the above in this house. After looking forward to retirement for a while now and counting down the days, my dad said something last week that made my whole family look at him like he was sleep talking. He said, “maybe I could just, you know, not retire. Can I do that?”
You can bet we all answered a very quick no.
The thing is, he has been waiting to retire and wondering what that would be like without actually realizing that sooner or later, he truly would retire. Doing so means a complete change of routine and even, for a lot of people, redefining your purpose. So I guess it can be easy to want to cling a bit closer to what you’re used to and comfortable with instead of leaning into all the change and uncertainty.
For Nick, he’s headed in the opposite direction as my dad in starting his work-life while my dad closes his out. In this case, the timeline is a bit fast and it’s a bit like being thrown into the deep end of a pool and told to swim. He went from not having this job to knowing he has a job halfway across the country and needs to pack up and move within a month and a half. Calling movers and apartments for quotes, deciding what stays and what goes with him, designing financial spreadsheets incorporating his new job, setting up last appointments here before he leaves… He says he’s been doing a lot of adulting lately, I don’t disagree.
More than that, he’s also trying to spend time with us all because he doesn’t know where everyone will be in the future. The both of us have lived under the same roof our whole lives except for being less than a mile away in the dorms freshman year. Even then, we saw each other every week and had lunch or hung out. We’re lucky that our parents have always been in the same state as us, close enough for a day’s drive if needed. His moving to Iowa is a bit different than all that.
It’ll be big, but nothing he can’t handle. For the both of them though, they’ve worked hard to get to these points and now that they’re here, the view has probably changed.
Though uncertainty isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can be nerve-wracking. For example, with graduating students it’s hard not to wonder what they should be doing or if they’re keeping up with a timeline that doesn’t truly exist because that’s what they’re used to. But they can adjust their goals and that timeline too. As for my family, uncertainty right now is leaving room for opportunity as long as those with new opportunities don’t get in their own way.
Both my dad and my brother reminded me that it’s fine to be uncertain, nervous, excited, scared, or even hopeful. As long as in the meantime, you don’t stop moving toward something you deserve because of it.
With so many ways to adjust to both of their new normals, from spending a little extra time with the new retiree and taking a trip or two out to Iowa this year to see the new hire, it’s all doable.
Actually, I think it’s more than doable. I think it’s about time they both received a bit of credit for their hard work and got to step into a new journey for themselves.
If not now, when?
As for anyone else about to take new steps or heading toward something that feels uncertain, I will be sending you all the good vibes I’ve got. I hope you’ve got a support system to hype you up along the way and know that whatever comes next, it should be exciting, scary, nerve-wracking, hopeful, and so much more all at the same time. So, good luck.
I hope everyone else has a wonderful weekend and stays safe. Have a great night.