[This is a blog post from Katie about life after her YAV year.]
So. Many months have passed since I wrote my first post filled with that new blog euphoria. I had every intention of regular updates. But like to-do lists and New Year’s resolutions, this blog got pushed to the back-burner of my life. A couple of worthy things have happened since October. I got into Graduate School for Journalism at the University of Alabama and will be starting in August. Roll Tide. I quit my retail job back in February and have since spent my days working at a local YMCA.
While my YAV year was challenging in that I learned to live with 5 strangers and serve the people on the streets of New Orleans, this year has been oddly tougher. On the surface, living in my parents’ basement, working part-time, figuring out my dreams/goals/life purpose sounds like a pretty sweet setup. However, over the past few months of minimum wage work and just hanging out thinkin’ I’ve found myself consumed with inner turmoil.
I recently read Meg Jay’s The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now. The title may sound a little corny and it’s not Bossypants but this book has solid advice on understanding what the hell is going on in your brain, body, and heart during your 20′s. You hear a lot about the teenage years being filled with angst and drama and raging hormones, etc. You also get an earful about the wild, experimental college years. But I never heard many honest, candid discussions about navigating “modern adult life.” Each year, graduates are shot like canons into a dating and job market that is as confusing and unpredictable as it is frightening. Sure we were given “101 Things a College Grad Should Know” and cutesy cards with inspirational “Take the Road Less Traveled” type quotes. But what I personally needed was a card with the following message:
“Dear overly optimistic, slightly naive college grad proudly clenching that B.A in English: You are going to be lost and confused for a good chunk of time. In fact, you are going to make some less than smart decisions. You’ll date the wrong people, you’ll make the wrong friends, and you’ll find yourself in jobs you aren’t meant for. But the right fits are there. And you’ll realize it. Just have a little patience. What you do now DOES matter 20 years down the road. Everyone will always seem one step ahead of you. That’s ok. You aren’t going to wake up one random, sunny morning and discover you are Tina Fey. Although you are both hilarious and impossibly attractive. Go ahead and reach for the stars but realize that might mean doing something less than dignified before you touch gold. And oh yeah. Please get off Facebook.”
Everyday that I hop onto Facebook someone has just become engaged, married, had their first child, been accepted into medical school, law school, found their dream internship or starter job at a promising company, gone off to a beautiful foreign country, etc. Apparently this is the time where it’s all supposed to be happening and I am not sure what “it” is but it does not seem to be happening to me. Don’t get me wrong I am happy for my peers and I know lives are never as glossy and perfect as those cropped cover photos. But it’s hard to keep up hope that I’m heading in the right direction as I fold and hand freshly washed gym towels to overly good-looking men and women at a gym.
But. BUT. Here’s the thing (finally making my point). This particular year has been a learning experience like no other time in my life. And while at first I considered this my “off year,” my “transition year” my “I REALLY meant to learn how to do my own taxes and cook outside the microwave year,” I now see it was actually full of mini revelations. It’s funny how so often you don’t realize what is happening to you until after the fact. That was the case with my YAV year and thus is case of August 2011 until now.
- I spend a great deal of time avoiding life rather than living it.
- Sometimes you just have to do things scared.
- Relationships don’t just require work but a desire to work.
- Being somebody that can be loved is just as important as loving someone.
- You can’t pick and choose the moments that you are a friend. You just have to be one.
- Criticism is out there. Decipher what’s constructive and what will never matter.
- Let family be your rock when things get out of control.
- Life doesn’t have to be a rat race to some unidentifiable prize. Just let it be about creating meaning one experience at a time.
- 4-way stops are terrifying. I will never be good at telling who got there first.
- Canadian Idol>American Idol
The twenties are for building a life that matters. I think I’m beginning to understand that even as my frontal lobe works through its final kinks.
P.S- All incorrect grammar in this post is simply ironic. I did that on purpose.