On Feeling Stuck

How do we cope with lacking direction in life or feeling stuck? Where do you find your purpose, and what comes next?

Growing up is hard.  If I could go back to 7th grade algebra and point to myself and laugh when I stressed over slope-intercept form because I knew what was coming next in life, I would.

Growing up is hard. And it isn’t getting any easier.

Thinking back to sophomore year in college, which was my first year as a Film and Theatre major, all I wanted was to have my name in lights. I wanted Broadway, the red carpet, to be invited to the Academy Awards and the Tony’s and to, one day, be up on that stage in a beautiful gown giving an acceptance speech and holding that trophy.

I’ve dreamt about that moment for years. I know exactly how it would happen.

I would be sitting in the audience surrounded by actors I admire. My face would be on the screen in the tiny little box next to the other nominees. For awhile, I thought I’d have my best friend/husband sitting next to me, but I don’t think I would. It would be my mom. She’d be there, and she’d be holding my hand as the presenter said, “And the Academy Award goes to…”

“… Kaitlyn McQuin.”

The room would fill with cheers and applause and I’d gasp and immediately bury my face into my hands and sob as my mom helped me to my feet so I could walk to the stage. The first words I’d say wouldn’t be “Wow!” or “Oh my gosh!” or “Uhhhh.”

I’d just scream. I’d do my little “Blehhhhhahaha!” thing that I do when I’m overly excited and don’t know how to contain it, and I’d be clutching my award, and they’d show Meryl in the crowd and she’d be smiling.

I’d thank God. I’d thank my mom. My family. My friends. I’d thank one of my pals since kindergarten because I promised him I would. I’d thank my teachers. I’d thank every person I’ve ever worked with. I’d thank my agents. I’d thank my humble beginnings. And then I’d make a joke, as usual, probably from nervousness and it would charm the pants off of everyone. And then I’d exit the stage and cry again in the wing.

I’ve dreamt about this moment for years. I know exactly how it would happen.

Lately, I feel as if my approach to this “game” has changed. It could be that I feel discouraged in my pursuit. It could be that I’ve started a “real job.” It could simply be that I don’t want it anymore. If the latter is the case, which it very well could be, then that saddens me, because I feel like I’d be losing a part of my identity.

There’s a part of me, I’m not sure how big, that wants to move to New England and live in a quaint house with my little family and wake up in the morning and have coffee on my front porch while listening to sounds of nature. I’d be a schoolteacher. I’d be a mom. I’d be a wife. And I’d be happy.

But then there’s this other part of me that wants to run in the opposite direction of that (for now). I want to travel to NYC and study there. I want to do the same in LA. I want to travel the world and see theatre and write about it. I want to write and perform sketch comedy and blast it out to all of my friends and make art. Live art. And whether it’s nationally recognized or simply admired in my hometown, it wouldn’t matter. I’d be an actor. I’d be a writer. I’d be a comedian. And I’d be happy.

In a matter of twenty-four hours, I find myself wanting two completely different things. When I’m at school, knowing that I’m teaching children about my craft and witnessing their excitement makes me feel fulfilled like no other. But then the bell rings at 3:30, and I get into my car, and I think, “Well, what about me?”

I’m very blessed. I know this much is true. I have a wonderful job, a supportive network of friends and family, a roof over my head with the greatest roommate around… but sometimes I still feel unfulfilled. Like I’m lacking something.

Like I’m stuck in this rhythm, a rhythm with a really good beat, but could perhaps use a tambourine. Does that make sense?

I don’t do this often, especially publicly, but I’m going to throw out my needs into the universe for once. Instead of keeping them inside of my head or between two lined pages in my journal, I’m giving them to the world.

I need to know what direction I should go.

I need to know where I’m needed and what I can do to get there.

I need to know, again, what my purpose is.

I need to know where I can find a tambourine.

What do you think?