We hear it all the time. "I'm in between relationships". "It's just an in between job". It's almost ingrained into our identities from a young age.
The in between phase. It doesn't always have a negative connotation- an article I read from Elite Daily used it in a positive way- but most usages have something in common, they dismiss the "phase" as less than or not as important.
I suppose it is generally used as a coping mechanism to deal with the fact that we're not exactly where we want to be in life- we don't have the job we want, or the relationship we want, or the social stats that we want- so we are "in between" and moving towards better things.
But as I thought about the implications of this phrase, it hit me that this frame of mind could actually be really harmful.
The essence of "an in between phase" is discontent. I'll illustrate with a story from my life, so that you know I'm coming from a place of discontent myself- as most of you know, I was smack in the middle of working on an English degree when I found out I was pregnant with Evie. It rocked my world, to say the least, and since then, I've been in full on "mom mode". My whole identity is wrapped up in motherhood now- I'm no longer a student working towards a goal; I'm no longer a college kid who is able to drop everything for a night out. And I get asked ALL THE TIME when I'm going to finish my degree. Though I have "side projects" like my blog, my free lancing job and the occasional barista gig, my life is mostly at home with two little girls.
And I've been tempted to view this time in my life (when it's babybabybabybaby from the moment I open my eyes till I close them and then re-open them 3 hours later) as an in between phase.
And while it is true that life certainly moves in stages- newly wed, young parents, student, job we don't really love...these "stages" we would love to move quickly past to get to the good stuff, aren't really in between at all. They're the stuff your LIFE is made of.
The long nights spent with fussy babies, when I'd rather be out enjoying a drink with my husband. The hours poured into a project only to see little return. The time spent at a job that doesn't fulfill you.
It's tempting to want to move past these moments as quickly as possible- to when both girls are at least sleeping through the night please and thank you- and some days I genuinely want to. But here's why viewing life in groups of in between phases is harmful:
It detracts from the narrative:
I love viewing life as a story or journey. I often think about other people's lives, wondering where they've been or what their goals are.
Believing in the existence of in between phases essentially is like saying that this point in your life is a chapter (or two) you would like to leave out of the novel.
It devalues the everyday:
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I'm obsessed with noticing the ordinary moments of life and remembering them. Maybe it's because my life is very much made up of "ordinary" moments right not- but I truly believe that the normal moments of life are where it's truly lived. Not in the big highlights or the "movie moments", if you will. It's in the small choices, choosing to love AJ through an argument, noticing the little baby wrinkles and chubby bellies of my girls, keeping my patience when I want to lose it; these are the things that make up life and they're in no way in between.
It deepens our discontent:
In a culture that already markets and sells discontent by the masses, this frame of mind doesn't do us any favors.
My my point in writing this isn't to point out the flaws in our society or to bash having goals and dreams (the opposite in fact!) I merely want to encourage those of you who, like me, struggle with discontent. If you're constantly looking forwards or backwards, viewing the present as "in between", you'll miss out on the beauty of the moment you're in. And I promise you, there is beauty to be found.