My Second Act

32 days from today, I turn 50. Yep, the big 50. Back in 2019, I was already planning my 50th birthday. We were going to go big! I mean, we only turn 50 once, right? AND, when I turned 40, I was pregnant with my son, so I didn’t get to bring in my 40’s the way I thought I would (although, it was actually better!) Two years ago, my plan was a girls trip with lots of drinks and lots of shopping and overall, just one big fun celebration.

It’s funny how things change.

2020 changed my life forever. Today, I am 197 days sober. My life, along with most others, looks very different than it did a year ago. Instead of planning my big 50th Birthday girls trip, I am quietly contemplating turning 50 and trying to figure out what my second act will look like. I have been asking myself a lot of questions; easy surface-level questions and deep, down-in-the-pit-of-my-soul type questions. I realize that I have lived over half of my life and I don’t even know what I want to be “when I grow up”.

I have been trying to figure out if I have lived my life with intention, or if I have just let it ‘happen’. I am not saying that one is better than the other, but being the “planner” that I am, it was a strange feeling when I realized that I haven’t “planned” my life. In fact, most of the things I “planned” never really worked out. Maybe that is why I just let it happen. Maybe I got tired of things not going as I wanted them too? I honestly don’t know. But I know it started happening at a young age.

In high school, I knew I would go to college. I didn’t have anything else to do! In fact, I picked one college, applied, got in and that is where I went. At the time I thought I was going to become a teacher. I studied English Literature, loved Shakespeare, did a lot of extracurricular activities, made a lot of friends, and ultimately, graduated with good grades and with no idea what I was going to do with my life. I’m sure that is fairly normal, to be honest. Why on earth do we think a kid between the ages of 18 and 22 is capable of choosing what they will do for the rest of their life!

I worked a couple of good jobs. Ended up going back to school when I was 30, to become….wait for it….an Air Traffic Controller! Yep. I was going to talk to airplanes. I applied for school and was accepted, moved myself to Minnesota for 4 months & put myself through class, studied hard, graduated and got hired by the FAA and moved to Albuquerque, NM. And then the strangest thing happened – I failed. Yep, I failed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I never failed at anything before this…but, truth be told, I hadn’t! I hadn’t failed at anything significant. Failing my training as an Air Traffic Controller changed me.

I don’t have some big dissertation about how failing made me a better person; how it pushed me to work harder at everything and how I grew from it and became the best version of myself. Honestly, none of that happened. At the age of 31, I felt like I screwed up. But, I still had a good job with the FAA and I got to move home and be with my family and friends. That was that. I tried, it didn’t work out, I’m done.

It’s funny when I think back because I was so happy to move home to Seattle, I put the failure in the back of my mind. But ultimately, it weighed heavy on me. I knew that everyone at work knew (worked in an Air Traffic Control facility). I thought people looked at me differently. I was self-conscious enough already due to my low self esteem, thinking that people were judging me because I “washed out” (Air Traffic term) was something I struggled with. Eventually, I put it behind me professionally, but deep down it became a piece of me.

During all of the years of trying to find my place in the career world, I was dealing with being overweight. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had weight loss surgery in 2003. It was about 2004 when I started drinking. I couldn’t “eat my feelings” anymore, so I started drinking them. My failure at weight-loss, and at my Air Traffic Control job are huge parts of my past. So is being a drunkard. All of these things have contributed to the “me” that is turning 50 in 32 days.

I look at my life differently now that I am sober. While I am turning 50 soon, I feel like I am getting a second chance. It’s time for me to move past the weight loss surgery and the Air Traffic Controller job failures. It’s time to stop feeling guilty for my marriage ending and to stop thinking I am screwing up as a parent. I want to live my life in gratitude. I want to live my life with intention. I want to make better choices for myself so I can continue to get healthy and in better shape. I want to do what I need to so I take full advantage of the life I have left.

It’s time for me to live the life I was meant to live! Bring on the the second half! Always, Ms. K

~Bear Bryant

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