Have you ever reached a point in your life where you ask yourself, “What next?”
I am at such a precipice right now. As I mentioned in my blog post from a couple of weeks ago, the recent highlight of my life is that I finished writing my first fully complete, fully edited book (!!). While reaching that huge milestone felt like such an amazing accomplishment for me (as it should), these past few weeks I’ve been left with an unsettling feeling. Like an unmoored ship, I feel directionless.
The more I thought about this feeling, the more I realized that this is perhaps the first time in my 35 years of living that I have reached a point where I ask “What next?” and genuinely feel overwhelmed by not having a clear-cut, quantifiable answer (aside from having another child, which sadly is not working out so far).
Let me back up. Like most children, when I was little, I always eagerly looked forward to the next milestone: going from pre-K to kindergarten, elementary to middle school, middle to high school. Then from that point, I was always so eager for the next level of education. Being a college freshman wasn’t enough: I couldn’t wait to be a sophomore, then a junior, then a senior. Same story with graduate school. Once I graduated, I couldn’t wait to find a job. Thanks to the Great Recession, that took a while, but in the meantime at least I marked off another check in my Great List of Nexts: I met my husband. Then came the amazing career, and then I couldn’t wait to get engaged. And then I couldn’t wait to get married. And then I couldn’t wait to have kids. And now, despite having to go through infertility and IVF, I have the most amazing child a parent could ask for.
And yes, I desperately want another child, and I want a paying career again, but somehow I am very much at the point in my Great List of Nexts where … there is nothing next.
And this feeling of “What’s next?” bombarded me out of the blue over Christmas, when I put the finishing touches on the edits of my first book, Georgina Strange and the City of Scheming Spires (working title). Aside from the obvious next step of getting the book published (I am querying agents now), I suddenly felt overwhelmed with a disconcerting feeling of being ungrounded.
Now that I have finally finished my book, what next? I mean, I suppose the obvious answer is to start on my next book, which I have definitely done (I’m about ~10% done, which is not great, but it’s something). But completing that first book was such an amazing milestone for me that I still feel some sense of being without direction, now that it has been checked off my Great List of Nexts.
Does anyone else ever feel this way in life? If so, in what ways do you ever feel as though you’ve reached a point of not knowing what comes next?
Until next time,