Like falling in love, first slowly and then all at once

Many times and experiences in your life may give you pause for thought and make you realize your humanity. I have had moments in mine where an experience will open my eyes to the fragility or futility of life but its only recently that I have started to feel like I have moved further in my life than I previously thought. I have become acutely aware of time and its rapid movement. And I can’t say its terribly comforting.

I have always been young for my age. I’m the eldest in my family but always a baby. I’m not always naive to the ways of the world but I have often ignored the reality to remain shielded from it. I had my first real relationships late, I never partied much as it wasn’t my forte and I follow rules religiously. Even I think I’m a square sometimes but I am mostly happy that way. Having just turned 28 (society teaches me that thats scary) and being torn about my career future I suddenly feel like I am hurtling through time.

Quite literally, last week, between one day and next I have gone from young for my age to rapidly running out of years in my life. And ironically I know this is just a perspective shift. I have previously blogged about my despair with the future of the academic science career. I am literally a proverbial neuroscientist out of water. Fear of poor career choices has lead me to consider (again) a career as a doctor, something I have always wanted and often postponed due to financial commitments or other opportunities. Well now that the option is looming again and having decided to bite the bullet and take the plunge it has dawned on me that I will be 34 when I graduate again and move into gainful employment. I can feel my blood pressure rising as I read that sentence. Thirty-four is not old in the slightest but having lived in New York for 6 months now my awareness of marriage and families is far more acute than it was in Ireland. My colleagues here are married younger and starting families young and while I’ve never given marriage and kids much thought, the fact that I will be in debt and up to my eyes in work well past 34 has made all these never-before considered life milestones seem like choices that need to be made now.

Increasingly nowadays they are publishing articles about women and work and the family life situation. The ticking biological clock and the choices facing women in this generation are presented to me daily in social media and popular culture. Suddenly something I thought was for the grown-ups of this world to decide and was so far from my consciousness is now creeping into my mind. I am getting ahead of myself but for a planner and linear thinker this modern world where everyone can have it all while the economy bottoms out again and again is changing the landscape for what makes for success. And if truly happiness is the only real goal, what does having it all really mean anyway?


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