Tag: life changes

When Post-Grad Isn’t What You Pictured

Seeing as I now write for The Mighty and The Odyssey in addition to this quiet corner of mine, I’ll probably be cross-sharing more. Hopefully it’s not seen as laziness; if I write something, I now have three disjointed arenas I’m considering, and I’d like to try and have all my original work at a home base of sorts. Right now, that’s not very organized, but it’ll improve. So, without further delay:

A quote I see floating around on Pinterest frequently is “what screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.”

I had a specific idea of how my life should be six months out from graduation. At the time, it seemed pretty realistic; I accounted for some struggles, but also assumed there’d be some successes and left space for “come what may.”

For instance, my new home didn’t have to be anything fancy, though I really wanted a porch or balcony and a cozy corner where me and and a dog can cuddle up with a book on a rainy day. I probably still have ten “what the hell am I doing” moments a day at my job, but love the people I work with and am making enough to cover my loan payments and complain when I can’t do something because of said loan payments. When I get a little overtime, I treat myself to some riding lessons and a deposit in a piggy bank designated “world travel.” I’ve probably made some friends whose company I genuinely enjoy, though still likely feel lonely or a little lost sometimes (and have already downloaded and deleted Tinder at least twice); but when a cute boy takes me on an honest-to-goodness date, and I come home and tell the mutt puppy I adopted about how much fun I had, I am wholly and completely in the moment and ready for whatever comes next.

Start going too far and it’s easy to see how you can get lost in it. What do you do when it’s not how you pictured?

You’re hella confused, first off. Especially if you supposedly followed the steps to get to the picture. AP classes in high school? Check. Plenty of activities and sports? Check. Accepted at a good in-state university? Yep. Graduate after being involved in more things than you can keep track of, a full-time internship, and with some honors? Check check. Then you’re angry – you put in the work, where’s your prize? Why did this turn out so differently? They say to begin with the end in mind, and you’re sure you did that; like that one frame on your wall that just won’t stay straight, you’ve dutifully tweaked and tilted it almost every day back to where it should be, and should stay.

One day you come home to find the whole thing on the floor, glass shattered and picture ripped and punctured in places. Where the frame used to be are all the additional holes and knicks made in an attempt to get the damn thing to just. stay. straight.

I’m realizing that while I was so concerned about keeping this frame of “how it should be” straight, I never considered that I could move it somewhere else or change the picture itself. Why do I let myself be constrained to this one picture in this one place?

“There’s no time like the present.”

When was the last time you just thought about yourself in this very moment? How about this one? And now? Have you moved since three moments ago? Been in the presence of other people? Checked your phone? Felt some sunshine? Felt cold?

If you’ve read this far, you’ll never go back to the exact moment when you started reading this. I’m not in the same moment as when I first started writing this, and actually this has turned out very differently than what I was expecting. For several days I was determined to write exactly what I had in mind, and I made zero progress. Frustrated, angry, and ready to say screw it because what am I even trying to say?

Then I deleted over half of this and decided to just write. Funny what happens when you decide you don’t need to be anything. I know I’m not the only back living at home, or the only one who’s health has derailed more than one plan. I know I’m not the only one who misses the comfort and vibrancy of my college town, finding myself wistfully scrolling through this feed or that of all the people still there. I know I’m not the only one who wonders if they’re a failure for not getting that first job break in spite of being fully qualified and “doing everything you were supposed to.”

So, what do you do when it’s not how you pictured? You decide if you want to leave the mess as it is and complain about it, or if you’re going to take what you can, clean up the rest, and start making something new. I’m making something new; no idea what it’ll turn out to be, nor do I want to know right now. The important thing is starting.

 

 

Growth is yucky

I have about 10 different drafts that I’ve tried flushing out over the past month.

Each time, I come back to the confusion in my life. Have you ever had one of those moments where, as time slows down and pauses around you, you’re watching what’s happening instead of experiencing it? And as you’re watching yourself, you already know that the person before this moment, their book, is finished. Not just a chapter, because that would imply a continuation of the same story. Although maybe it is, you can’t really tell because it doesn’t feel like you’re the author at the moment. You just know this is important, for better and for worse.

And then you’re back in yourself, you walk out of the moment, and continue on. I feel like this would be an understandable experience to have when I was diagnosed with narcolepsy, but this is different.

Am I being dramatic? Probably. Maybe. No? When you realize there are large gaps in your memories, and you find yourself desperately trying to remember details that¬†prove¬†something, but come up blank… You’re confused.

Worse, you can’t place names, or even general references. You can’t research or ask others’ opinions, because nobody else was there. I started a blog for writing practice, for fun, and it’s given me the opportunity to be a contributor for The Mighty, which has been empowering and something I’ve enjoyed after the two articles I’ve submitted so far.

For the past month though, all of my energy has focused on this. People write vague things about their struggles on the internet all the time, whether alluding to it or calling it outright for what it is. I could imagine why people would do it before, but now I understand it. You just need something to be outside of your head and a notebook. I can’t write about anything else until I do this, annoying as it is, because I know how much I’ve changed recently. My perspectives are different, my trust is certainly being held close at the moment, and I’m hyper-vigilant to seemingly everything (hello exhausting). I’m in flux about my values, my goals, my identity (guess this is a premature quarter-life crisis), trying to piece together my past to better understand the present, and mostly avoiding the future right now.

But, here’s what I’ve learned so far…

  1. I am so, so much stronger than I have ever given myself credit for.
  2. I am incredibly intelligent (and have undermined this my whole life).
  3. My ways of adapting to my circumstances has resulted in some residual problems I now have to deal with, but I don’t regret what helped me cope.
  4. My life events are the same, but my experience for so many of these events is in question. I’m still me, but my perception of myself is unsettled and changing, and I’ve got to spend time with and learn who this new perception is.
  5. There are still some really damn amazing people in my life, and I’m more thankful for them than ever.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; if you would have asked me if I thought a, b, c, or d would be in my future 1 year, 2 years, 5 or 10 years ago, I would have said “nah.” Here I am, and here I go. And it feels so good to write that.