Wanderlust or just wondering?

By Justine Lister, writer and blogger at My Crazy Magic Life – My Life. My People. My Work.

Does anybody else get that itchy, wriggly feeling in their bodies when they feel that change is coming or imminent?

In my mind, this is the feeling that Samantha from the TV show Bewitched must have had before wriggling her nose to induce mischief and magic, or how Dr Who feels when he is on the cusp of regenerating.

Usually, I am quite astute and aware of what direction my life is going in, but not this time. I just have this itchy feeling and nothing else. My main concern is that it could be some sort of mid-life crisis. I, like many, am prone to bottling and burying the awkward and the uncomfortable, however I don’t feel like I am in crisis.

To reassure my worried and my overthinking mind I Googled the word and discovered that one definition of a ‘crisis’ is ‘a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger.’ OK that’s fine, I am definitely not currently in any of those. Another definition states ‘a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.’ Hmmmm…maybe… but what decision and in what area of my life? I am lucky enough to be in a job that I love, while studying to better my knowledge and broaden my horizons; I have a comfy home and surroundings to live in; I am amply loved and looked after by my loved ones, and I am learning to develop self-esteem and confidence for the first time in my life and enjoying the feeling of being more authentically me too.

So, what is this perturbing feeling that has settled within my being? Wanting to scratch that itch just a little bit, I gave this some more thought. I often find that when I do not understand something, or when I am not sure what to do, I must hold the thought in my brain like a seed and let it develop in its own time – so that is what I did. I left the feeling alone and only gave it attention when it popped up in my thoughts – most frequently this happened while I was on my own and quiet: getting ready in the mornings, drifting off to sleep at night or walking and sitting with my dogs. I am now wondering if that was a sign that some time alone is what is required.

I am not great on my own though.

I get mopey and sleepy and find it hard to get started on anything, or even do anything vaguely productive. If I have any length of time on my own, I need to have plans so that there is some sort of routine, productivity, and direction.

Wanderlust is one of my favourite words and one that would pop up during my times of contemplation. It is the desire to travel far away – now I love a good city break, two weeks in the sun, culture vulture excursions and alike, but I don’t think that I am about to embark on a global trek around the world. As I said, I have zero inclination to leave home and be on my home for vast lengths of time – but could I, should I and would I be brave enough to learn how to be on my own a bit more are other questions that maybe should be considered? My focus on the concept of wanderlust also made me wonder if it is new experiences that I am seeking and not necessarily travel.

The dreaded ‘L’ word (lockdown) and the past year of yo-yo-ing permissions and restrictions could easily explain my current feelings of restlessness. There was a popular quotation that was coined during the pandemic and was flashed around social media ‘“In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” Without a doubt, the restrictions around our social lives and connections with friends and family were hard to bear, but there was a flip side to this massive change in lifestyle that we had to adopt literally overnight. And this is where I think I am perhaps hankering for a slightly more fluid and flexible way of living and being. Working from home, although not ideal, was able to offer me some freedom and flexibility in how I completed my tasks and managed my day, and I did enjoy this aspect of the new normal, amidst the other confining curtailments.

I also believe that we are becoming conditioned to planning for and anticipating the next BIG thing in our lives. In my twenties I became a mum, my thirties were a whirlwind of studying, learning to drive, bedding into my career and working on personal growth and happiness. Now, here I am in my forties, and I am not sure exactly what the next BIG thing is. I know I am happy right now, but would I still be happy in five years’ time if nothing has changed – that I cannot answer with any surety.

So, I am tentatively thinking about projects, or experiences that I can do to help me find out what the thing for my forties will be. Here are the ideas so far that I think will help me:

  • Researching new or different branches within my working role.
  • Buying my very own (small) place and decorating it up (By the time I have saved this will certainly take me into my fifties but even so…).
  • Trying trips and excursions on my own (just call me Shirley Valentine!)
  • Writing something bigger than a blog (the next Jo-Jo?).
  • Continuing my education (Dr Lister…).

It must also be said that there is the possibility that maybe my forties are meant to be for me to just be and consolidate all the learning, knowledge and growth that has taken place in the two previous decades, but if that were the case, I would not have this funny feeling that I am missing something.

Who knows where this crazy magic life will take me – not me that is for sure?

Answers on a postcard please. I will scratch that itchy feeling and ponder some more while waiting for them!

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