About the teenager thing, let me explain

April 4, 2013 |  Category:   life me rambling



This belt. I’ve worn it nearly every day for years. If I told you that my everyday belt was white studded leather, you might laugh and think it was tacky. Maybe it is, but it’s funny the things that we reach for, the things that we put on everyday like a security blanket. Maybe it’s like armour, something to hide behind. Or maybe it’s just a belt, or a studded leather bracelet (I do have a thing for studs, I must admit), or a pair of earrings. These small hoops were novel when I bought it 14 years ago because it was the first piece of gold jewelry that I’ve ever been compelled to buy and wear, but that color of gold was too inviting, like little nuggets of sunshine, and it made all my other silver jewelry look gray and cold. Now, 14 years later, they rarely leave my ears.


I’m up way too late these days, pushing bedtimes to 3am. But while I’m up, let me elaborate on that whole “being middle-aged is like being a teenager all over again” statement I made on the last post. Some of you seemed horrified at the prospect of living through that angst again – and maybe you won’t by the time you get here, but I actually found some relief when I connected that analogy. I feel like there might be a shift happening; I don’t know towards (or away?) from what, but sometimes you feel these things like faint butterflies deep inside your gut. But before there are answers, there’s this unsettled period where a lot doesn’t make sense anymore and you start to question everything including your identity. Insecurity follows; sometimes loneliness and isolation too. But it isn’t depression because that feeling, which isn’t at all tangible at this stage, is kissed with a hint of hope and optimism on the other side. I know this might not make any sense (this is what happens when you get to be my age, apparently – you start rambling nonsense and lord help me if this blog turns into some kind of self help journal for the middle aged), but it helps to sort out these complex feelings by writing them down and that’s when it hit me that I’ve felt this before, when I was a teenager headed into college. The years that followed were a wonderful, tangled mess of experimentation, letting go, making ugly mistakes and making huge leaps of faith, sometimes without a plan.
I’m feeling like there is some sort of next stage in life imminently approaching. The girls are growing up and aren’t so little anymore; their needs from me as a parent are changing. Despite the fact that it’s sometimes terrifying, I’m a role model to them now more than ever. As the industry I work in continually changes, my career as freelancer and designer might also be shifting (and to be perfectly honest, I can’t help but feel there is an expiring timeline at work here). I also feel like we need to step into the next phase of the business, whatever that route may be. We’re trying to figure it out, but I know we’ve played it safe in the past, partly because we need this business to be a solid rock in the way that it supports our family. Business aside, I’m yearning to do something different and big, whether just for myself or another business venture. Sometimes I think I’m crazy when I think this way – after all, I barely have enough time to even keep up with what’s on my plate now, but it’s a persistent nagging that I can’t ignore. I don’t even know what “IT” is, but I want to allow myself the time and freedom to mess around and figure it out. I know that in order to even begin thinking about this I have to shut down some of these outside noises that waste my time and not be so concerned with what everyone else is doing. This means spending less time on social media and not comparing myself to a thousand other people. But this also means spending more quality time talking with the people I care about.
A few months ago, I felt this sudden pull towards the coast. Sometimes we can’t explain what moves or pulls us, but I’ve been planning a trip around it this summer. I don’t know what I’m going to find there – maybe nothing – but I’m following my gut on what inspires me at the moment. This seems like a good path to follow. If I were to continue with that analogy of feeling like a teenager on some sort of precipice to the next stage in life, then I’m excited about what might follow – mess, mistakes and all. I know that I have to self motivate on the leaps of faith, something that comes easier when you’re 18 and don’t have the responsibilities of a family or a job, but I’m allowing little steps to count as progress. Maybe it’s taking some of the armour off and putting on a color you’ve never worn before. Maybe it’s taking a trip and changing your environment or taking a class and learning something new. I’m standing here now, but where do I go from here?

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  • tiffmino April 4, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I love your analogy of this time in your life – I can totally relate and it makes perfect sense. I feel the same shift as you mention, as a designer myself. I am also wondering what is next? Scary and exciting, all at once…

  • Jennifer Nichols April 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I really enjoy your blog and I love this post. I can most definitely relate as our girls are growing and I’ve been thinking of the next phase of our business as well. Scary, yet exciting stuff.

  • maya April 4, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    love your blog…one little question, how do you manage to survive through the day going to bed at 3am? is this a regular thing or are you like margaret thatcher that survived on only 4 hours of sleep a night? please tell me your secret as I would like to use those extra hours to work on my to do list!

    • Jenna April 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      I don’t know. I’m one of those people who don’t need 8 hours of sleep. My parents don’t sleep much either. I only go to bed at 3 if I don’t have to take the kids to school the next day. On school nights I try to get to bed by 2.

  • Sarah April 4, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    I’ve spent many hours trying to figure the same things out. I’m 43 and I feel like a whole chapter of my life is about to start. It’s confusing and scary sometimes but always thrilling to wonder what, where, how it’s all going to play out. I just know that I feel restless and that there’s something else I should be doing now. It’s not that I’m not content with my life…I am truly blessed in so many ways but I’m being pulled towards something else and I, too, am wondering “where do I go from here.”
    I look forward to your late night thoughts on the changes you decide to make.

    • Jenna April 4, 2013 at 11:38 pm

      It might be slow, these changes! And I’m not even sure what it is I’m supposed to be doing, but I’m just going to take it one day at a time.

  • rebecca April 4, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    love this. i understand the push & pull as well. (& i wrote about it as well last thursday on my blog -about life, layers, desires for things i can’t have, doors opening while others shut. my definition of happiness being so different now than when i was younger ) -just like being a teen, you can’t go back to being a babe anymore -it is terrifying, yet thrilling at the same time. well i guess i am just saying that i think it is a brilliant analogy. xxoo

  • Juliet April 4, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    I feel the same way. So much of what you’ve said resonates with me. And it’s weird because we are in completely different fields. But I feel the same way. I know that fear is keeping me back from doing what I really want to do. And maybe I’ll just keep on doing what I am doing (with my head in the sand) until I’m forced to make a change one day – when I don’t have a choice. But the unsettled feeling, the feeling that I’m putting off the inevitable, slowly eats at me. It sounds like you’ve reached a point of clarity. I hope I find the courage to be pro-active too.

    • Jenna April 4, 2013 at 11:41 pm

      No clarity here…yet. I don’t think it matters what field you’re in – I think a lot of us can say that our respective fields are changing and evolving, and that we’re not sure how we will fit in.

  • Len April 5, 2013 at 4:49 am

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I love that we live in a world where you can share all your anxieties and fears with us as if putting it out into cyberspace may somehow make the journey a little easier. The best part is that in the process you’re inspiring and helping others to do the same.

    • Jenna April 5, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      Thank you Len!

  • Christina April 5, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I like reading your thoughts on the different stages of life. I’m at a different one — almost 30, but have recently realized I’ve lived through (probably) half my life. What do we want our lives to be? Just keep on making it an adventure, I guess. 😉

  • Ez April 5, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Yes! A thousand times, yes!
    Exquisitely written as always, and you’ve brilliantly put into words exactly what this phase of life feels like. What a relief!
    Thank you for sharing so authentically and with so much heart Jenna!
    xox Ez

    • Jenna April 5, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      xo Ez!

  • Renita April 5, 2013 at 11:13 am

    “making ugly mistakes and making huge leaps of faith, sometimes without a plan” …. I am right in the middle of that, and earnestly defiant … as if to express I’m still here motherf****ers

  • Candace April 5, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Grandma was right when she called this period, ‘The Change o’ Life’….which is a lot more than the occasional hot flash!

  • Laura April 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    This post is why I always come back to your blog. Such honesty and your thoughts always get me thinking.

    • Jenna April 5, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      Thanks so much Laura!

  • Karen April 6, 2013 at 2:14 am

    I just nod my head to your words…..I feel like I am living in my 20’s but in reality I’m 36 and have a 2 year old and have been just coasting my career along….I usedt to be so ambitious, and now I feel like rebelling!
    Jack in the job, move house, start anew? There is something so invigorating about those thoughts, but in reality how? Books tell you “visualise!” And I do, but it takes so much more. My best friend has total financial freedom for life and I am jealous! I am! The freedom of choices when you are unlimited by finance…..
    Love as ever Jenna, love the post/blog/thinking

  • Rachel April 6, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    You know, I’m really glad you wrote this follow up…I understand what you meant a little better now. I am a regular reader of your blog, but I rarely comment, and I should probably comment more, because your writing always resonates with me. You’re honest, and blunt, and real, and I really appreciate that in a world full of blogs with lots of glitz and brightness and not so much reality. It’s a trap I’ve fallen into as a blogger myself, and I’m slowly trying to figure out a way to get out of it and write more as myself and less as a shallow online presence.

    Anyway. This is the part of this post that really got through to me:

    “and that’s when it hit me that I’ve felt this before, when I was a teenager headed into college. The years that followed were a wonderful, tangled mess of experimentation, letting go, making ugly mistakes and making huge leaps of faith, sometimes without a plan.”

    I get that. I am 26, and I can clearly recall those feelings. And then college was kinda hum-drum, and then after college I felt that same way again. And I’ve been feeling that way in various stages ever since. And since I’ve experienced lulls in the angst before, maybe I have more lulls to look forward to, along with the anxiety and lack of knowing what is coming down the road. And that’s okay with me, because otherwise life would be pretty boring.

    Uffda. Long comment. What I’m really trying to say is: wonderful post. =]

  • Claudia M April 6, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Thank you for such a thoughtful post. I really like the ideas in your last paragraph– that in order to thrive, we need to listen to ourselves, and sometimes the risks we take don’t need to be Huge or Meaningful but can still be equally rewarding.

  • Henna | HENNA BLOSSOM BLOG April 8, 2013 at 11:39 am

    I really appreciated this post. I think it exemplifies why I come here. I like that you are a person who is always aware of your thoughts and never just settling into life. I like the idea that we don’t just “find our spot” and coast from there. We keep evolving.

    I used to be a 3am-er. I used to love that time at night when everyone was asleep. I’d get so much done and felt almost invincible, like had a buzz. These days, I don’t know where my energy has gone. I have a toddler at home but I actually sleep more than I ever have in my life. And I’m still tired! Hoping that once the toddler years pass I’ll need less sleep?

    Just wanted to say, thank you for sharing your thoughts!