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An Honest Reflection: stuck in a rut

Recently I’ve found myself in a bit of a rut.

It feels so dumb typing that, knowing that on paper everything looks wonderful. I just moved to a new state and married my best friend. I’ve started training again. On top of all that, this summer has been jam-packed and I have loved all the little adventures I’ve gotten to take as a newlywed. Honestly life is (and should be) good.

20120609 laurenandevan wedding 1834

But…with so much change comes an adjustment period. And that’s not always easy. Not the whole marriage thing. That change has been simple enough. Getting to hang out with my best friend all the time, having shared responsibility for everything, and dreaming about our futures has been wonderful. Wonderful…but not a cure-all.

It’s funny sometimes, how we think that one big event is going to erase every other source of stress in our lives….or at least suddenly change the way we feel about them. Like, there was a small part of me that actually believed I’d wake up the morning after I said, “I do” and suddenly be the world’s best homemaker. That I’d delight in cooking dinner every night and cleaning up after the 3 animals I now find myself in charge of (we may not have children, but the merging of our “pet families” has been interesting). That moving from a tiny apartment into a large historic home that seems to spontaneously sprout dust would be a cake-walk…you know, now that I’m a married woman and all.

But here I am, almost 2 months in and still waiting for that instinct to take over. No one will be surprised to hear that it hasn’t come. That I still don’t love having to vacuum and sweep every single day.

And wouldn’t you know it — the same goes for other aspects of my life as well, such my career (or lack thereof). I’ve talked about this before, but part of the thing that made it easier to move to Vermont was the fact that we both knew I would soon be laid off. I was working on grant funding — on borrowed time — and that funding ran out right around the time of the wedding (yes, we planned it that way). So while June was the best month of my entire life, I came down from that high to a feeling of being just a little lost.

Before the wedding, I was spending a lot of my time in RI. I was still working the same job while trying to plan a wedding and move my life 3 hours north. This meant that I spent an obscene amount of time in the car, living out of a suitcase and feeling generally unsettled. I was so excited for that phase of life to be over — for the time to come when I’d be living in Vermont for good.

IMG 0841

Now that it’s here, though, things aren’t as easy as I thought they would be (surprise, surprise). When you live in a (very very) small town and your husband works long hours outside the home and you have only two cats and a dog to keep you company during the day, it isn’t long before you start to feel a little isolated. And for all those glamorous thoughts you once had about not having to go to work every day to go out the window. I’ve now come to realize that even though I had one foot out the door by the end of my position in RI and even though I hated that drive more than anything, the simple act of going into the office and talking with co-workers every day kept me sane.

And then there’s the whole “unemployed” thing. A status that has left me feeling like I am doing nothing to contribute to my relationship. While Evan is out making money, I am stuck here, trying to figure out my future and find a job. So even though I am incredibly thankful to have the support of someone else during this time, the fact of the matter is that I have not been this dependent on another human being since I was a kid. A humbling (and somewhat scary) experience.

The dumbest part about all of this is that Evan isn’t complaining. He is now the one who is stuck with a long commute every single day because we chose to live in a remote place. He’s also the one who now has the burden of financial responsibility. Yet it doesn’t bother him. He knows that we chose to live here for a reason and that it was going to be difficult for awhile. Something that I knew going into this too…but have had a harder time actually accepting.

Moving here was a risk, but it was also a choice. I am reminded of the reasons why we made that choice each time I walk over to the general store to buy freshly baked bread, local eggs and produce. Each time I go for a hilly run on winding roads. Every time I walk out my back yard and get to the trails. I am reminded when I see how happy Evan is to be here, and how much the pup loves having all this extra space. And on long summer drives through the country, with my windows down and the sweet air filling up the car, I am hit by the realization that I have never ever in my entire life been so happy.

Koli_river dog

Lately these moments have been fleeting. But even so, they are important reminders. Reminders that I need to cut myself a little slack. I have put this incredible amount of pressure on myself to have life all figured out by now. I mean — isn’t it about time? I’m in my late 20s, with a master’s degree and yet I STILL don’t know what I want to do with my life. And the fact that I don’t have it all planned out drives me nuts. With each job and every passing year, it seems as though the only thing I’ve come any closer to understanding is what I do not want to do. {Someday, perhaps when I’m further removed from it and not actively seeking a job, I will write about what it’s like to work for the state…and how a job that you once wanted so badly can slowly suck away all your ambition, goals, and creativity}.

It’s easy for me to get bogged down when I think about the future. To be stuck and frustrated that my life isn’t neatly packaged. That I still don’t have all the answers.

What I have a hard time remembering…each and every day…is that what matters most is the NOW. Sitting and stressing about the future means that I waste every single day I’m given just waiting for the future to arrive. I have everything I’ve ever wanted right in front of me, and happiness is my choice to make. All that matters is that I wake up every morning, determined to make this day the best day that I can. That I set goals, but don’t allow myself to get bogged down by them.

So today, in an effort to break myself free of this rut I turned to the one activity that has gotten me through so many uncertain times before. I ran, and I ran hard.

I banged out 7 hot, humid miles, with 5 at tempo pace. Getting faster each mile for the first 4 of those, holding that pace until I thought I couldn’t any longer and then when I wasn’t sure I had much left in me, convincing myself to do just one more quick mile. Knowing that every step I took, every mile that I pushed, I would be getting a little bit stronger.

It was exactly the run that I needed. A reminder that I still have some speed in these legs and that with a little hard work, I can get myself back to being the runner that I once was. That feeling of being completely spent by a workout was something that I missed so much while I was injured. And it was the perfect reminder of the way that life works.

I can choose to wake up each day and wallow in this rut, or I can put in the hard work to create the life I want. Things won’t change overnight, but each time I push through, I will see results.

Saucony mirage

All that I need to do is keep moving forward. One small step at a time.

32 Responses to An Honest Reflection: stuck in a rut

  1. Amazing post!
    Ashley @ Sweat for Sweets´s last post ..The G Plan

  2. “keep moving forward”

    That is the phrase on my RoadID and something I find myself looking down at a lot.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this post, Lauren. It’s hard to put yourself out there, but you really and truly know how to do so in a beautiful and artistic way. It’s okay to not know all the answers. <3
    Krissy @ Shiawase Life´s last post ..Running Wisdom

  3. Wonderful post! I know it sounds cliche to say that you aren’t alone,but you are not. That constant fight to look at the right now and not miss it for the what might happen is something I deal with all of the time.

    Thank you!

    Amy

  4. Wow- I really needed to read this post today! Thank you for this! I got laid off from my job in FEBRUARY. I’ve applied to over 1000 jobs since then and have even gotten interviews. Each time I get an interview, I get my hopes up only to be let down when they give the position to someone else. This has happened no less than 10x – most recently as in today. Some days, I’m fine with it an an optimistic that something will come along but some days I can’t think positively. I’m tired of living my life like this, I’m tired of not having any control and I’m tired of relying on my husband for everything. He has never complained and he knows I’m trying my best, but that still doesn’t help with the helplessness I feel. I don’t know anyone else personally that is unemployed, so to know that there is someone else out there with the exact same feelings as me is really comforting to me. Thank you for this post! And GREAT job with the run!

  5. I probably wont find the right words right now, but I’m sitting in my quiet, windowless office trying to hold back tears. I picked up my life and moved to a town that felt like home to me. That has so many wonderful pieces that have so greatly improved my quality of life in DC, but comes with so many risks and left me with so much fear. My job is only guaranteed funding until November, and while I might be able to stay on past the planning phase, this isn’t what I want to do. I took my position to get me to this place, hoping that in six months I’d be able to figure out my next step. I’m terrified that I can’t manage my finances, that I don’t know how I’ll pay off my loans in December, that I wont’ ever find a job that fulfills my soul. I have ever reason in the world to be happy here, my life really is good. But something is missing.

    So thank you for reminding me that today is today. And that I’m not the only one trying to figure life out.
    Alex @ I Eat Asphalt´s last post ..Wanting and Having It All

  6. I’m caught between 2 ideas right now – the idea of “living in the now” and “working towards something.” Its really tough to balance and it’s causing me a ton of anxiety.

    I think it’s amazing that you guys moved out to the country. I would love to do that someday.
    Laura is Undeterrable´s last post ..Size Acceptance – It’s Not Just About Clothing

  7. I needed to read this. Yesterday was my one year anniversary of getting laid off. I’m not OK with freelancing part-time; I want another full-time job. I defined myself by my career, and thought I could approach being a stay-at-home mom with the same passion. But I’ve learned it’s not for me. I miss working and being a part of something. Even though I’m with another person ALL day long, I feel lonely most of the day. I’m glad to know I’m not alone. Hang in there. So glad you had a great run! Hoping a wonderful opportunity comes your way soon! <3
    Jen´s last post ..Breast-feeding Q&A

  8. This is a great post. I feel like you always take a lot of the thoughts MOST of us have at this age and put it out there on your blog, which others (me included) are afraid to do, but when we do, everyone realizes that we are not alone. That there are so many other people going through, or who have been through, or will go through similar things, and we DON’T and CAN’T know all the answers, and it WILL be hard, but it’s normal. So, THANK YOU for writing this for the world to see =)

    Also, when I saw the title, I thought you were going to say you were going to quit blogging and I was SO sad. But I am happy that you didn’t say that =)

  9. Rarely will I read an entire long post but yours caught me and I read to the end. I’ve not been in your position but I can empathize through your words. You will find something, and you won’t even remember how tough this time was — know that. That’s a lot of change at once and I can imagine how lonely it must but it’s temporary…so just try to keep things in perspective. Anyway, just wanted to send some encouragement your way. Keep being proactive, keep running, keep dreaming. It will all come together, just like so many other things have :)

  10. Yes, yes, and yes. I have been feeling so many of those same things as a new wife and now mother. Life would be so much easier if we just immediately felt fulfilled after each change! But then, I guess, we wouldn’t have any motivation to make more changes.

    Good luck, God bless, and you can do it!
    Erika´s last post ..Running Realizations

  11. Hey!

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I just wanted to comment and say I hear ya when it comes to having your MPH and working for the state! I worked at the state level for a year and a half after graduating and felt like I was lucky to escape when I did. It is definitely a spirit breaker, and pretty much was the reason I switched research areas completely. Good luck with the job hunt!

  12. This is freaking beautiful. I am not exactly in the same situation but this hit so close to how I feel in many situations. Thank you :).

    Remember, whether or not you are aware of progress right now, it is happening and your work ethic and attitude is helping to get you where you should be. That, and every move sucks for the first 6 months at least. It’s a rule. :)
    margot´s last post ..San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon Recap!

  13. I am pretty sure you just said everything in my head! We moved across the country for my husband’s job and it has been 8 months and I still haven’t found a job. I have Masters too (Health Science) and am having no luck. I’ve had the application to Starbucks pulled up on my computer all day looking at me….. I’m to that point… The husband is fine with it all just like yours, but it’s still hard bc my view of my self worth has gone down (sad, I know). Good luck and congrats on your marriage!! Thanks for showing me that my feelings are normal!

  14. Wow. I will echo so many of the thoughts that were said above. I can relate…for different reasons, but with the same general feelings. For work purposes, it is hard to share these feelings with mostly everyone except my husband so it is really great to be able to read this and relate. Thanks you for such an open and honest post. Looking forward to meeting you in August.
    Corey´s last post ..Happy Blog Birthday & Nuun Giveaway!

  15. Thank YOU for this. I have been in this spot before and I promise it can get better, in your own timing. I had to move once my husband and I got married to a place I knew not one other person than my husband. It wasn’t shortly after that I got injured and could no longer run and soon enough all I and felt was constant guilt for depending on him. I felt I was a burden and that I was not being the woman, wife, writer, runner etc. that I thought I should be. I felt I lost ME. It was then I had a lot of time to discover my identity was based on all things I was doing, not who I am. I know this may not make much sense, but I can’t describe it any other way than this…Before I identified myself by what I was doing, rather than who I was being. Anyways, I guess what I am trying to say is your worth is not based on all that you do, but rather on who YOU are. Chin up : )
    Jenn´s last post ..Simple Truths.

  16. Loved everything about this post – you really processed through a lot and ended with an amazing run! Make it happen:)
    And, VT is beautiful. Us CT’ers come up there for vacation, and to run!
    Katie @ msfitrunner´s last post ..Tempo Tuesday, It Pays to Check and Morals

  17. This post is literally like reading my own story. I’m in the same exact situation. I married my best friend in May, it’s hard to think that I’d be in a “funk” now but I am. Well, was. I’m slowly coming out of it but it was bad. really bad. I hope things turn around for you, as I’m sure they will :)

  18. So well spoken and SO true. Just because life is GREAT and things on paper on good doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to be in a funk. Just because 1 thing in your life is OMG SO GREAT doesn’t mean that other parts of your life can’t be HATE LIFE TERRIBLE.

    Love this post. Have felt the same way about some things lately and you articulated the feelings beautifully.
    Meagan @ Managing Meagan´s last post ..Are you organized? Or lazy?

  19. Read it once, loved it, read it again like it was a stern lecture being given to myself. Great post, Lauren.
    Sarah OUaL´s last post ..Hill Prep (the non-running parts)

  20. It’s hard even at almost-50 to remember to live in the now. It is very important to remember :)

    Sounds like you are exactly where you should be :)
    XLMIC´s last post ..The Ellimpics: Rules of Play and Schedule of Events

  21. awesome, honest post. honestly, i’m not sure any of us really know what we want to be when we grow up. or what to do with ourselves. at almost 32, I definitely feel that way. and I know how lucky I am to have the life I have, but I still have the bored-not-quite-satisfied feeling. it will all hopefully get easier for you. look forward to meeting you in a few weeks!
    elizabeth´s last post ..Off the Wagon

  22. Girl, we should talk at HTC. Being a Health Educator working for a county health department in Ohio sucked the life and confidence right out of me. I know exactly how you feel when you stat that you feel like you don’t really know what you want to do with your life, but you know what you DON’T want to do. I’ve totally been there, and sometimes I still think I could be. Keep on keepin’ on!
    Mollyberries´s last post ..Race Recap: 2012 Canton Marathon: 3:35:36

  23. I can totally relate to your story. I stopped working 2 weeks before my wedding, then felt kinda lost during the year that I didn’t work and didn’t have kids. And I handled it just the same as you – running. The “wife” stuff might never come, I don’t know many people who do like to clean every day! Just try and enjoy the time you have, because soon you will have job/kids/etc and you will wish you had some free time to just enjoy being by yourself, or with the dogs. :) I’ve been married less than 4 years, had a whole glorious year of no kids or job, and now have 2 small kids and laundry that never seems to end. Enjoy it while it lasts and run hard while you still don’t have to push a stroller or get up at 5am to drive to work!
    Ashley´s last post ..July Restaurant Round Up

  24. Where in VT are you living? Maybe if you’re close enough we can meet up. Send an email if you would like. I’m a VT transplant as well :)
    deb´s last post ..4 months

  25. You didn’t even have to write anything for this post and I would have HAD to comment. LOVE your wedding pictures! Seriously- every time you post one I don’t think they can get any better but sure enough they do!

    Anyway, glad you had a mentally boosting workout today. Those kind of runs will definitely help break you out of your slump. We’ve all been there at one time or another. Racing often helps me. Do you have any races (besides NYC) in the near future. That might help motivate you along…

    I had a 2 month period after I was married in which I was home alone. My husband commuted and worked hard for us to pay the rent for our expensive apartment in northern CA. I was looking for a job and it took a while in a new state. I found myself in a bit of a depressed place, missing my family and wondering how my life had changed so fast. I was SO happy to be married to my best friend but I went from being in college with friends all the time to living across the country married and my husband was gone all day. I was feeling lonely and unproductive. Once I started working things got better. Three years later I found myself home again with baby #1 and I’ve been home ever since. That experience was very different. There are just so many phases. I wouldn’t change any of them because I know they led me to where I am now.

    You will find your new rhythm. It just takes a little time. I had totally forgot about this phase in my life but reading this brought back so many of my feelings. This makes me feel a lot more normal for feeling the way I felt. (My husband couldn’t quite understand at the time.) Thank you!!
    Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom´s last post ..My Olympic Interview and JANET news!

  26. This is such a lovely post, and one that made me chuckle wryly as well. I thought that when I became a mother I would suddenly get good at cooking and cleaning etc….and nope, I’m still me but with a son!! I also understand that odd feeling when you’re not financially contributing to the household. I found it hard and it was a long time before I got my head around it. I’m glad you can channel that confusion into running and at least get something solid out of these days.

  27. You replied to my comment earlier today saying that it was exactly what you needed, and I want to say that this is exactly what I needed. I have taken a lot of comfort in your blog lately, because I too have been living out of suitcases, moving, feeling out of place, not able to run…and it just seems like all of these things have kind of built up and covered the vibrant, super-happy person that everyone knows me as. It’s like you lose yourself under all the other stuff and sometimes it’s hard to remember that old person is even there. I get it, and it’s nice to know that somebody else is feeling that way too. Things will get better.

    One thing I was thinking while reading your post is how much I enjoyed teaching group fitness classes (which got taken away due to rules about hiring only students, right before the stress fractures happened, right before I moved away from my gym – talk about losing all your outlets for stress relief!). Does the local school have a cross country team you could coach? There is something about sharing the things you love that is even more satisfying than doing them yourself, which obviously you know since you blog. Just a thought

  28. i think of this as ‘achievement syndrome’ and it’s nice to know someone else has it! i think there might be some people who can chill with time off and not worry about it, knowing that soon enough something will change and they’ll be off and running again…but i’m not one of them. i stop appreciating free time right about the time i get a hold of some! but i try to analyze my thoughts that lead to dissatisfaction, and i think you hit on it, it’s about being kind to yourself and realizing that in the transformation process, it’s not all caterpillar, butterfly OR coccoon- a lot of it is just waiting and stillness, and (a sometimes nervous) peace.

  29. I remember back to when I graduated nursing school (right as the economy crashed…) and I couldn’t get a nursing job. A NURSING JOB, in the world of a “nursing shortage.” It took five months and over 200 applications to get a job I didn’t even want, but had to take since there was nothing else. In the meantime, I felt terrible about myself and how I was stagnant in life waiting for the next step. While I tried to make the most of my last time “at home” with my parents and friends (I was moving east to be with my then-boyfriend), it was so hard not to focus on the future and when it was going to get here. I think we all have a hard time focusing on the now instead of looking toward the future…while it’s good to keep an eye on both, sometimes we don’t realize how good we have it right now. The hard part is realizing that something WILL eventually work out, and knowing that you have support in the meantime.
    Susan´s last post ..a little wine in napa valley

  30. Hi from Malaysia!

    Thank you so much for this post. I just wanted you to know I’ve been following your blog for a while, and today’s post hit the nail so well and truly on the head that I had to leave a short comment here. Your writing is so honest, and reflects what most of us twenty-somethings feel when the dream job turns out to be less than wonderful, when even the best relationships aren’t panacea and the road is even more winding than we bargained for. Know that you’re not alone, and that your words have helped me, from an ocean away, as I struggle through similar emotions. I know that even in this rut, you will be enriched by the beauty of this life-season.

  31. Thank you so much for this post – I’m in my mid-20s and I feel the exact same way (sans masters degree, dog, or husband) – lost and without direction, yet I’m incredibly happy with life at the same time. I’m currently injured and cannot run, but I can’t wait until I can get back out and hit the pavement!

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