Now what? Those two words are all it boils down to. You ask yourself that as you walk across the stage at college graduation, thinking that if you can answer that, you’ll be okay. You have no idea that those two words will haunt you your whole life. When you reach a new milestone birthday. When you check something off your bucket list. When you fail. When your plans come crashing down around you. When you say yes to the job, the man, the ring. When you hold your first child in your arms at home, with no nurses to keep a schedule. Now what?
If there has been a theme for me these last few months, it’s been this question. Again and again, every day. The first morning I woke up and didn’t have a job to go to. When my first reserve of savings dwindled away. When the novel idea I’d carefully plotted and started to draft fell apart. When promising interviews turned into “sorry, no thanks.” Now what?
The answers have varied from small—now I will go to the gym—to bigger—now I will tap into investments for money. But the question doesn’t go away, not really. Even when I find a new job or source of income, it will always be there in the background at varying levels of intensity. Maybe being in your thirties is simply this: the realization that there is no end to the questioning. There’s no figuring it out, once and for all, the end. There is simply learning to accept the question’s constant presence and finding an answer for this moment. And then the next. And the next. And the next…