Will I lose my friends if I don’t have kids?

Plus: Am I really ready to abandon the life I built? And, how do I overcome resenting my friend?

Reading the Room

Welcome to Reading The Room, Mic’s tarot advice column. From the pandemic to the climate crisis, the times we live in can make it tough to feel grounded. Writer and tarot card reader Khalila Douze will help you navigate these murky existential waters by interpreting what the cards have in store. Read on for this month’s readings, and then submit your own questions to readingtheroom@mic.com.

Dear Room Reader,

Lately, I’ve been struggling with how to move forward in my life. I feel a pull toward a new adventure — living in a different country or perhaps spending a year on the road in the U.S. The thought of it is invigorating, and I think a fresh setting could help quell some of my existential angst. Then again, I love my home — I’ve worked hard to create a space I feel comfortable and safe in — and I really love living close to my family and friends. I’m scared that if I leave, even if just for a year or two, I’ll break those strong bonds and disappoint people I love. What should I do?

— Antsy and Indecisive

Khalila Douze

Dear Antsy and Indecisive,

I’m stoked to say your first card couldn’t be more affirming. The Three of Wands is a card that specifically evokes adventure, overseas travel, foresight, and growth! I’m telling you, this card says it all, and you know in your heart it’s true. That it’s coming out upright is an assurance for you to explore, try new things, and venture into unknown territories. Those visions you have of road-tripping across the country and/or moving abroad are tugging at you for a reason — it’s time! You’re aligned in thinking that a fresh setting can be an offering to your spirit. Wands symbolize the element of fire — and fire, like the inner flame, is really pointing to one’s spirit, drive, confidence, motivations, and passions. Have you seen that Pixar film, Soul? I always think of that movie and its concept of a “spark” when contemplating the suit of Wands. It’s really about the lesson that our souls don’t have any single purpose other than to live. These Wands are encouraging you to live life to the fullest right now.

If your first card wasn’t enough of a nudge, your second card, The Hierophant reversed, should do the trick. Should you choose to listen to your heart, take on this adventure, and reinvigorate your life in this way, there is a powerful life lesson awaiting you on the other side. The Hierophant speaks to the benefits of institutions, tradition, spiritual insight, and convention. Its reversal immediately tells me that now is not the time to be conservative with your actions. Instead of doing what’s expected of you, it’s time to break the rules! Sure, your rebellion may upset some folks around you, but The Hierophant reversed is encouraging you to ditch conformity, get out of your comfort zone, and listen to your inner guide. What you learn along the way will change your life for the better. And for what it’s worth, I’m sure your home is lovely! But moving away for a year doesn’t mean you have to give it up, either. Are you in a position to keep your home and have friends or family housesit? If not, there are other solutions. One of my favorite resources for embracing a nomadic lifestyle is Listings Project — I highly recommended it for short-term sublet and rental of incredible spaces.

Your fears about breaking bonds and disappointing people are valid and worth acknowledging. You have these fears because the love between you and those around you is strong. Your third card, the 7 of Wands, tells me you should be prepared to defend yourself a bit with this decision, especially when it comes to those closest to you. I sense their fears about you leaving are rooted in passion and care, and less so in logic or rationale — remember, Wands are the fire element. This card, which speaks to tenacity in the face of challenge, also tells me you are well-equipped to protect yourself and honor your decisions when people question you. For one, it’s entirely possible to maintain meaningful relationships at a distance with how hyper-connected we are as a society, and that’s especially true if you aren’t leaving forever. Eventually, your true loved ones will respect you for living your life so fully and will come to appreciate your newfound sense of self. And keep in mind, it’s always better to make a decision from a place of courage rather than a place of fear. You got this, and it will be so worth it in the end!

Dear Room Reader,

I’m at the age where many of my friends have kids (some are on their second!). I always assumed I would want to have kids of my own some day, but here I am in my mid-30s, married, but with no strong maternal instincts kicking in. I love kids, but the thought of being a parent myself triggers more anxiety than excitement. Then again, sometimes I fear I’m going to lose my ability to connect with my friends who have kids, or get left behind as they bond and spend more time with their families and fellow parents. In some ways, I think about how nice (in theory, at least) it would be to raise kids alongside my best friends, and I have FOMO when I think about the conversations and experiences they share that I simply can’t relate to. Am I being irrational in my fears?

— Fearful Friend

Khalila Douze

Dear Fearful Friend,

Boy, do I relate to this question! I’ve been struggling with this very thing myself, minus the being married part. Loving kids and committing to parenthood are entirely different moods. Your first card, the Ace of Wands reversed, suggests it may not be the best time to have a child. This card generally symbolizes the intentional act of starting or creating something new in the realm of life that touches our spirits. Its reversal is encouraging you to hold off. While I know this isn’t exactly the question you’re asking, I was already sensing before pulling your cards that this was important to address, as sort of the elephant in the room. Having a child based on a fear of missing out or getting left behind as opposed to from a place of excitement about parenthood threatens to put a lot of pressure on a future child. I’m no parent, but I’m guessing some of these parents around you are also dealing with fears. Some fear for the safety of their children; some may fear they’re missing out on a sense of freedom they’ll never have again. Essentially, fears are just what they are. In my opinion, they’re never irrational. They’re just there to pinch us when we need to take a deeper look at something.

With your second card, it’s safe to say you’re in for an awakening. The Tower, a major arcana, is quite destructive and appears when an event is on the horizon that promises to change the course of your life forever — but it doesn’t necessarily imply doom. Oftentimes when things fall apart, we’re presented with options. One door closing means another opens. Someone told me recently that the word for “crisis” in Japanese means both danger and opportunity. For example, you and your partner could unintentionally become pregnant, in which case destruction comes in the form of a tough decision or an ego death. The Tower moment may have to do with your marriage or family situation. No matter the case or how it unfolds, it’s very important for you to release control and embrace chaos as it arises. An important life lesson is on the horizon when The Tower appears. It’s worth noting that yours is upright, suggesting this destructive moment is necessary and can be moved through with ease. What’s for sure is that it will be unexpected, and any planning you think you should be doing right now in this area of your life is actually less relevant than you may think.

To this point, your third card, The Page of Knives reversed, reiterates the idea that plans can fail or change course at any moment. Knives symbolize the way we think and communicate — and frankly, the Page suggests a bit of haste and jumping the gun when it comes to your thoughts. Like I said, your fears aren’t irrational, but this card promises you will learn a lesson regarding anxiety and worries about the future. We can never know exactly how life will turn out. I pulled an additional card to get some clarity on this one: The Page of Cups is upright, reminding you to embrace your emotional center and try to let go of all the overthinking. Focus on spending meaningful time with the people you love and being a source of support for those who are raising children. This card encourages curiosity, dreaming, and playful possibility. Embrace your role in being a part of the community that gets to raise these kids, and try to have fun with it. Channel your inner cool Auntie. For now!

Dear Room Reader,

I’m having problems with a friend I’ve known since high school. We went to college together, and now we’re even pursuing our adult careers in the same city. We’ve talked out our issues — namely that we’ve drifted apart as our lives take different paths — in the past, and we’ve both apologized and promised to communicate better. Even so, I can’t seem to shake this resentment I’ve built toward them. I would hate to lose them as a friend given our lengthy history, but I also feel like I’ve outgrown them. Is it time to cut ties?

— Resentful and Uncertain

Khalila Douze

Dear Resentful and Uncertain,

Okay this is a sticky situation, for sure. I hear you! Your first card is the 9 of Cups. Cups deal with the heart-centered realm of life: emotions, intuition, connections, and imagination. The 9 is a very full, complete, and aligned energy in this realm of life. It suggests that you absolutely know yourself and where your true happiness lies. You’re very content with who you have become. I sense that this friendship and the course it’s taken over the years has also taught you how to show yourself love and care in many ways. Questions that come to mind for you are: How can you continue to focus on you, what you need from this friendship, and prioritizing those things before completely cutting ties? Or, rather, does cutting ties give you what you need? When you both say you promise to communicate better, what does that actually mean? Does it mean the same thing to both of you? What does it look like, practically?

Your second card is Temperance, a major arcana card. It speaks to patience, moderation, peace, and balance. You’ve probably been very patient in this relationship and throughout its ups and downs, and now you’re being encouraged to also be patient with yourself. Is the only issue here that you’ve drifted apart from each other? If so, what’s wrong with that? As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. We all need a little space sometimes. Maybe you just need appropriate boundaries that you can both respect to sustain a healthy relationship moving forward. You say you would hate to lose them, and that sounds like an honest feeling. It’s totally okay to outgrow people in a moment, but you don’t have to lose them forever. Sometimes people circle back around in our lives after some time apart and we find each other, aligned on similar paths of growth again.

Your third card, The Moon reversed, suggests it will take some deep excavation to uncover whatever it is within you that’s making you so resentful of this person. This card dwells in the realm of the unconscious and demands a hard look in the mirror. There may be some deep misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the situation at hand. Have you heard of the concept of “shadow work,” popularized by psychoanalyst Carl Jung? I’m not well versed in Jungian theory, but I sense that working with your unconscious mind and uncovering any traumas or repressed parts of yourself could help you gain some clarity within this relationship. Here’s an exercise to try: Write a list of all the things that stir up that resentment or frustrate you about this friend, then read it out loud to yourself. Consider how much of your resentment is projection, and ground yourself in the boundaries you need to communicate and uphold in order to keep this person in your life without cutting ties.