Finding the Why

This post is going to seem a little rambly. To be honest, it’s been on my mind for a while (at least six months) and now it definitely feels like it’s coming to a head.

I have been trying to figure out the Why. Not just “the why” but my Why. I think I had a little bit of a mid-life “awakening” after turning 30. I don’t want to say crisis because it wasn’t a negative thing at all. I was relieved to hit thirty and have my twenties behind me. I felt like I had laid the groundwork for the most part and made the mistakes I was supposed to make and did the work I was supposed to do to get to a pretty good place. I like where my life is at right now. Most importantly, I like myself, which I haven’t always been able to say.

Maybe it’s just me but I actually feel slightly unsettled feeling settled. Even though I like where I am now, I still want to make sure I’m working towards the life I want… forever, not just now. There does seem to be a bit more calmness of figuring this out at 30 than I felt at 20 and at the same time time the stakes feel higher?

Like I don’t feel like decisions are being thrown at me every week (what do you want to major in? where will you intern? what do you want to be when you grow up? where do you want to live?)… but the decisions I am making feel monumental (am I happy with this career? when to start trying for kids? am I living a meaningful life?)

And that’s where my Why comes in. I keep coming back to that for every life question I have. Even though it’s such a simple question, I think it’s one of the hardest to answer. It can’t be answered quickly either– I’ve been mulling over a lot. Sometimes feeling confident, sometimes feeling less confident. COVID and quarantine in a way forced me to spend more time consciously thinking about the Why in a lot of areas of life.

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Erin Elizabeth

I’m so glad you said something. I think this is something a lot of people are mulling over right now, especially myself and my friends in our 20s & 30s. This quarantine has prompted a lot of soul searching.


I am in my late 40s and can tell you from experience that 30s are harder and more exhausting in many ways than your 20s. You make more “permanent” decisions that impact more than just you and more than just one or two years of your life. If you decide to have kids, your life becomes a lot less about you than about them. You will still make mistakes but they can have much bigger consequences. I think it is great that you are asking the why? now but be gentle with yourself as you make some of life’s biggest decisions.


Agreed! I’m 42 and have two kids. The 30s are about permanent decisions. The 40s are great – seriously so much fun. And you’re already using sunblock so consider yourself ahead in the skin care game too.


We have different questions but I can definitely relate- I’m single, almost 30, no kids and finishing up nurse practitioner school in NYC, realizing once school is done I can move anywhere I want to for work. At first I was overwhelmed but now I’m looking at it more as exciting- and I’ve been doing lots of research on culturally diverse cities (what i love about NYC) that care about the environment and have easy access to nature/ocean (less ideal in NYC) in thinking about my next steps. If anyone reading this feels like they live in a place like that, please share!!


I feel like you just described the Bay Area! It’s generally a very expensive area, but it’s diverse, the environment is super important there, and there is a lot of beach access. If you’re interested in access to nature (and not just access to the ocean), then Colorado could be a good bet. Southwestern Colorado (by the San Juans) is beautiful, but the cities there are on the small side. Cities like Colorado Springs, Denver, and Boulder are larger, but are still close to mountains. Even though Colorado doesn’t have the ocean, there are rivers and lakes that can still offer fun water sports.


I live in Jacksonville, FL and LOVE the weather and the beaches, river, intercoastal, and small nature trails. I would recommend living near them if you did move here for some reason and not downtown.

I’ve also ALWAYS heard amazing things about Denver! I’ve never been and need to go!

I would be hesitant to live in San Fransisco, even though its breathtaking, one of my close friends moved from there to NYC and she opened up and told me how hard it was financially for her, like she had to be on food stamps at one point. I was shocked because she always seemed to be doing well there with a great job in the medical field.

My husband and I lived in D.C. where the cost of living is also high, even with so much culture and fun things to do, we felt our quality of life was very low. Even though we went in knowing things might be expensive. Def. a difference between knowing and experiencing it. Just my two (or three or four 😂 cents!)


I’m not sure what type of nursing you wish to do, whether it be in a grade school or middle school setting or a hospital. I think the Bay Area is way too expensive and yet you can find diversity & lakes in WA Redmond area or the ocean in a nice small community like Port Angeles, WA (or any of the WA islands) – if you did a school setting and that’s near the ocean (see whales) and a ferry ride to beautiful Victoria, Canada. You would have summers off and can do medical trips to less fortunate areas if you wish to do that — a friend of mine in her early 50s is doing this lifestyle, middle school nurse & volunteer summers since her kids are in college.


I second Mimi! I think the PNW in general would be great for you. I live in the Bay Area with my parents for now but as someone planning to become a teacher soon I don’t think it will be financially sustainable for me to stay here. I am looking into places in the Midwest since I have family there, but I think a metropolitan area in the PNW would suit your goals well.


Really feeling this right now, especially for people in their late-20s/30s. The pandemic has allowed many of us to look at our lives and decide what actually matters/makes us feel good. We’re all just done with the fake BS lol.


I really resonate with this post! I agree that the feeling of not always having to make decisions is a little unsettling, because not only are the decision bigger when they do come, but it is easy to get content in your life that you’ve built and then forget that you need to make a conscious decision every day to make sure they you aren’t just content right now, but setting yourself up for long-term happiness! Something that is on my my A LOT.


I love this post. It’s important to take stock every now and then and make sure that you’re doing things for you and no one else. I’ve loved getting to follow along with your journey and you seem so happy lately.


I’m still in my twenties and figuring out this stage, but as I settle in more and start to face some of the more “permanent” decisions, I try to jump ahead and think about where I want to be when I’m 80.

While it can feel wild to envision life 50+ years down the road, it helps me calibrate some of my decisions now. For example, I’m not ready to have kids yet, but I do envision myself at 80 surrounded by grandchildren. I’m still early in my career, but at 80 I see myself comfortably retired, which reminds me the importance of my job and retirement planning now.

It reminds me of how an airplane can shift a few degrees in while in the air and end up miles away from the intended destination (something like that haha, excuse the simplified metaphor). Some of these decisions are small, but can have a big impact.

All that to say, I think it’s great and really important to reflect as you look ahead. Sending you good vibes for inspiration and clarity as you think about your Why! ❤️


Wow, you are far more mature than I ever was when I was 20!
Great advice and reasoning

I am 34 still constantly trying to figure out my next step…

My 80s look pretty messy ha ha ha


I turned 40 last year and I will tell you this kind of questioning just keeps coming 🙂 But I think that’s a good thing! It means we are not just coasting through our lives but also continually challenging ourselves and working to improve.



You are like a friend to me 🙂 I relate to your posts and applaud your courage. Having asked myself the same questions recently, I have now convinced myself that it is ok to NOT have it figured out. No one does. No one ever will. I hope this gives you some peace.


Great post! I agree about Covid helping us focus on things we could easily be rushing or missing. I think that for me I’ve been so used to trying to meet other’s expectations, that this time has allowed me to not feel guilty (which I never should have anyway) to try and make plans that I want to make and have more self-care. I’ve been watching a lot of astronaut videos on NASA’s channel and they seem so calm and like they have a lot of training to be high up in low-earth orbit, they eat, sleep and exercise daily with a scheduled routine and schedule work and free time. I’ve been trying to do that more and it’s simple (you speak to this a lot) yet so helpful! It frees up energy in my opinion or exercising and eating well gives me more energy. I started waking up and going to the beach around sunrise and just starting my day with me time has been amazing!


Discerning WHY is at the core of our purpose in life. It is a lifelong question and the answer will change and grow as the chapters of our lives unfold.


Definitely experienced this after I turned 30, too! There’s power in letting life take its course though and what I’ve learned in the last 5 years of my 30s is that my why is Fulfillment. That’s what I want out of my life and it is what I pursue every day when I wake up.


You’re wise beyond your years, Carly. It kills me to see those in their 20’s and 30’s acting on impulse and emotion, making decisions based on feelings and not reason. Aristotle believed that in a well-ordered soul, reason has the whip hand over emotion. I wish there were more women like you in your generation. Keep doing what you’re doing.


I can say that once you make the formal commitment of marriage (be it privately in front of a court official or even a huge ceremony), you feel a forever purpose or “why.” Of course this is directed at Carly personally because it seems that this is her path. Marriage is not the answer to anything, but when it aligns with your values, making the formal commitment provides a foundation to grow those values.


While the “why” is kind of an abstract series of thoughts here- it also made so much sense. Your 20’s is a series of years where nothing is permanent, but in a way that makes sense, ie: studying for exams to graduate> getting an internship> advancing in your career etc. the chronological progression where you’re never quite at your pinnacle and you have so much left on your to do list of goals And figuring things out. And when you’re in your 30’s everything becomes permanent and the groundwork you laid is set up around you and you “choose.”
Such a bizarre realization to dawn on you that you’re in SUCH a new phase of life. A great one, just so different! It’s funny how this weird period has caused so many of us to think in a similar way. It brought me to going back to school (something I swore up and down I would NEVER do lol). But I consider this “life pause” to be overall constructive to most of us! Glad it is for you as well.


My grandmother calls this the “going-good blues.” Once things start feeling just overall good, fear creeps up as if to say “if you dare me, I’ll take this all away!” She always said the only things to do to make it go away were to be grateful and to ask yourself “why am I afraid?” Sounds like you’re already on your way!



I absolutely loved this post! It sums up so much of what I’m feeling, mid/late-twenties switching careers (going back to school to do a doctorate) and trying to figure out where to live/when to have kids/etc, especially since my partner’s career is set it often seems like the decisions are up to my schedule (even though he is 100% supportive). Those “why” questions just keep popping up, so this resonated and helped me calm a bit knowing I’m not the only one.

Laura C

Carly! You say this so well. I positively adore your blog and your real ness and vulnerability. Thanks for doing what you do.


I FEEL THIS!!! I am with you. Currently planning my wedding and everyone keeps asking me “what’s your next move?” Professionally and personally – and I’m not sure!

Thanks for being candid, as always.


I love that you shared this because I find myself considering this all the time. What is my why? Does it need to be this one big thing that conducts my life or is it more subtle than that? Anyway, I don’t know that anyone but motivational speakers really have their why all figured out. And as millenials who feel both old and young at the same time it may always be a little confusing. Thank you for sharing and helping us all reflect a bit!