I’m 30 and it’s hitting me hard. Older folks may chuckle at that, but I think we all have birthdays that hit us hard at different points of our life.
My life today is not what I would have predicted or hoped it to be, in more ways than one. When I was 14 I would have said that by 30 I would be married to an Evangelical man, be a housewife and have at least 5 children. When I was 18 I would have said I would be living in London, working in a research library and married to a professor. When I was 25 I would have said I would at least have my own place and a boyfriend.
While it’s true that my desires changed over the years and unforseen circumstances changed my life, I can’t deny that converting to Paganism changed my life in ways I could not have understood when I was 17. For all the benefits of being Pagan, I can’t help but be aware that it has limited my life, made it more difficult and left me more isolated than I would have been otherwise.
Had I remained a Christian, I would have found an abundance of spiritual communities to choose from, rather than a small handful, and the support provided by those communities would be available on at least a weekly basis and through various programs.
Had I remained a Christian, my participation in my spiritual community would be a mark of distinction that would recommend me professionally and socially.
Had I remained Christian, dating, marriage and creating a family would not only be easier, but it would be a supported goal of my spiritual community.
Had I remained a Christian, I would never have felt that twinge of fear or irritation at having to explain my beliefs.
Had I remained a Christian, public expressions of faith (jewelry, desk calendar, bumpersticker) would be accepted without comment.
My life could have been easier. I certainly could have been more prosperous. Marriage and children would have been far more probable. I would have had less stress in my life for sure.
As I grapple with turning 30, I’m dealing with regrets. Part of that process is dealing with the realization that the moment I found Paganism and committed to it, I made a decision that my life was going to be harder. Living out my soul’s truth has limited and inhibited my life.
I also have realized that I have tried to modify my desires according to what is possible as an openly Pagan woman in my region. I have put some of my dreams away, and now I find myself looking back in regret at what could have been.
It is not the fault of my religion that my life is not all I dreamed it would be. Partly circumstances, partly the economy, and partly my own quirks, my life is the result of choices that seemed good and necessary at the time. Yet I can’t be blind to the cost that I have paid for my spiritual life. I can’t be blind to this cost and sacrifice because in 1o years I will be 40, and 10 years beyond that I will be 50.
I think I should be able to have my dreams and my religion as well. I don’t know how to do that today, but I’m thinking hard about it. I don’t want the next decade to be full of the same compromises and sacrifices that filled the last decade of my life.
What have you given up by being Pagan? How do you feel about the compromises you’ve made for your spirituality? What is one thing you would reclaim if you could do it and not give up your religious identity and practice?