Category: Growing Up

On turning 24, and then some.

December is often a time for reflection – it’s the end of the year.

For me it’s always been doubly so – with my birthday at the end of the month it’s the end of my personal year as well.

This year is even more – I graduated in December a year ago. Hashtag baccalaureate, k?

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Since before I can remember, the my hometown church has ended its Christmas Eve service with Mannheim Steamroller’s rendition of Silent Night while everyone stands in a circle around the darkened sanctuary with candles flickering. As I stood there tonight, I pondered the shifting of generations. Girls I went to high school with now stand with fidgeting munchkins, stepping into the role of wife and mother. Meanwhile the children we babysat are now the high school leaders, singing boldly, volunteering often, and carrying the community on their shoulders.

It’s been a ridiculous year.

Traveling the world, traveling the United States. Getting promoted, my work shutting down. Independent to dependent to independent. Painting and crocheting. Writing and reading and being on three different phone plans. Everybody moving. Also, Reddit. It’s a thing.

Claire makes me laugh.

I move to Denver, CO in a week. A new year, a new state, a new bout of trying to figure out this life after college. I’m on the cusp of something big, the edge of growing up as I leave my college town.

For once, I don’t have much to say. My ponderings have all been written in journals, or discussed with friends. I’m at peace.

’twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…

Blogging, a question mark

What is the purpose of blogging?

The last several months I’ve noted that more and more of my Facebook friends have taken the proverbial pen in hand to broadcast their thoughts and lives to the world in the form of a blog. I am by no means a regular writer in my own, but take pleasure in reading from others.

I also am constantly searching for new blogs, seeking validation in the emotions and questions that I have – how do other people in my stage of life handle situations, make decisions, move from one day to the next? Although I suppose I qualify as a “digital native”, I am lost in the tangled world wide web, using rudimentary search functions to try find my far flung peers.

I was complaining about this to my roommate the other day. “I can’t find blogs about twentysomethings just trying to figure out what they’re doing with their lives! College students, young mothers, business professionals, sure! But what about those who DON’T know what they’re doing with their lives? Who have graduated, are not married, and are not working for a multi-million dollar corporation? Where are we represented? Why can’t I find their daily ponderings about how to survive?”

She looked at me, and bless her heart, said, “Why don’t you write it?”

Well, the reason is: I’m an external processor. I write when I have something to say. That’s usually when I’m processing something. It’s hardly professional to write about wrestling with the decision of whether to stay at my current job or move on, publishing my thoughts for the world to see before I’ve had that conversation with my boss. (For those of you keeping track: I’m staying.) Nor is it kosher to write about the frustrations and victories at work or in relationships.

I can’t write in an abstract way. I can’t discuss in real time what I’m learning, how I’m changing, what questions I’m trying to answer. It is only after the coals have cooled that I am able to speak with clarity, fairness, and quality.

But frankly, that doesn’t help the next person searching for answers. The thought process I think is just as important as the answers. It’s messy, it’s ugly, and no two people can ever follow the same road map. Viewing a situation through someone else’s lens, and understanding their reflections, can reveal more angles and ideas in ones own world, even if the final outcome is completely different. The journey is the destination, after all, isn’t that what has always been preached?

I do not have the ability to write about my journey. I can only stand on the plains and look around me, sometimes euphoric, sometimes just introspective. I can talk about where I have been, but I can’t talk about how I got there. Forgive me, but I can not write the blog I so desperately want to read.

Humans of New York
“What we see is affected by our memories, our feelings, and by what we’ve seen before.”

Growing pains

Today, I felt angry.

Today, I felt curious.

Today, I basked in the sun.

Today, I laughed.

Today, I missed someone.

Today, I got excited.

Today, I felt afraid.

Today, I felt emotions.

Not all of them were good. Not all of them were bad. The point is that I felt something.

Fall semester was rough as I learned that depression takes many forms. For me, rather than actively being sad or lonely or upset, I was… nothing. I felt nothing. I cared about nothing, no one. If I made plans, I hoped people would cancel. I discovered delivery, spending more money on Papa John’s than I think I’ve spent on fast food in my life. I became glued to my couch, apathetic. I shut down the supper club I had once cultivated with joy. I withdrew from friends. I thesised without passion. Wake, work, school, Netflix, sleep, repeat.

I became nothing.

The lack of emotions, lack of style, lack of interest, lack of anything… That was who I fell into.

It took flying half way around the world for my soul to finally revive, and as I stared at the stunning blue lakes of New Zealand, I felt the last wisps of depression slip away in the breeze.

To feel emotions today, even as cruel as they can be, is a beautiful thing. I feel alive, even if I am unhappy. I feel growth, even as I look at my immaturity and know that in two years I will look back and cringe at this moment in my life. (Literally, I think that I will recall this day and roll my eyes – it’s been one of THOSE.) But I’m learning. I know that as slow and painful as this is, I AM learning. I AM growing. It’s frustrating now, trying to sort out adulthood and learn how to take on this new position in life. But you know what? I can feel it. I’m alive. And that is a beautiful thing.

Rainy days

It’s a rainy, dreary day, much like the days before and the days to come.

Did you realize how many forms of “rainy days” there are?

I’ve spent the last decade or more running myself so ragged, I never had time to notice. Rainy or sunny, relatively cold or relatively hot. That was all I cared about as I threw on a weather-appropriate outfit and dashed out my front door.

There’s silence in my life now.

As a baccalaureate, one would think I’d be busier than ever or in the midst of applying to grad schools.

Instead, I’m slowly unveiling the gift of quiet.

There’s a joy in coming home after a full day and work and having nothing else to do. No thesis to research, phonology problems to solve, or mock business plans to write.

If I work at 6am, I know that I can occasionally stay out late the night before and take a nap after work. No classes to go to immediately afterwards or group projects to coordinate.

When I have two days off, I can go on an out-of-state adventure, or just go back home and visit my parents. I can teach myself a new recipe or take a new path around town.

There’s silence.

There’s quiet.

I can watch the skies.

Adjectives that used to be used only when people asked “is it raining out?” now I pay attention to in real time.

Is it misting? The moisture seeping from the sky? Is it slow and steady? A monsoon in the midwest? There’s hail – is it the size of a penny or the size of a golf ball?

It’s not that I’m gaining a new obsession.

I just see.

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I know that this a rare period in my life where I can slow down, where people aren’t dependent on me, my responsibilities are limited, and I am allowed to breathe.

I’ve always used my half-hour walk down town as a means of mentally processing, usually skipping songs on my iPod to provide a soundtrack for my emotions and in that manner blocking out the world around me.

With time to breathe, I take time to see. And now I take time to listen.

I take out my earbuds. I listen to the cars blasting their music as they pass me. I listen to the heavy breathing of the runners passing me as they master the hill. I listen to the chatter of the birds arguing across the street. I listen to the turning of the cranes at the construction sites, to the laughter of the freshmen as I pass by the dorms.

In the early mornings, though, there’s something special.

I listen to the silence of the morning.

I listen to the quiet gurgle of the river as it falls over the dam.

I listen to my footsteps on the bricklay of the ped mall.

I hear.

It’s a new experience for me to see the world in my own city, to allow myself to move slow enough.

I feel like this is the first step in a new stage of life.

For the first time, I am quiet.

Now it is time to allow both questions and answers to seep into that silence without distractions or a place to run and hide from them. I have no idea what I will find, what is around the next corner. But as I’m stepping into this adult world with all its changes, costs, and duties, it’s time to embrace it all and still hear the rain outside my window.

When I have two days off work, I can travel out of state. Or I can stay in my bedroom and paint for hours. Or I can drive twenty minutes out of town and find myself isolated with nature spreading her wings out before me.

It’s really, truly beautiful.