It’s okay to be nearly 24 years old and still not have it all figured out… right? I’m not completely confused, lost and unsure. But some days, this being one of them, I look at myself, my life and what I used to dream about and wonder… what happened? It’s an overwhelming combination of missed chances, self-loathing for said missed chances, and bitterness for the way things are unraveling. What really gets me is looking in the mirror and seeing the girl I once knew staring back with pleading eyes, asking me why I’m not the person that she dreamed she’d become. The sad reality is when you’re eight, 20 seems like a fair enough gauge of sufficient maturity, ambition and clarity – until you actually hit 20, and then 21, 22, 23, passing each year quietly and uneventfully, hoping to tiptoe around your festering, overthinking mess blatantly splattered all over the floor.
College graduation brings about the elusive future we used to talk about and the independence we only dreamed of. I expected a whole range of happy and excited emotions as soon as I walked across the stage to receive my Bachelors degree a year ago, because isn’t this the paradise we dreamed of as a child? Naive notions rarely prove true. While I was happy and excited, there were still a plethora of other emotions running rampant throughout. I was nervous, anxious and above all, scared. A degree is a piece of paper that signifies you worked tirelessly for something that you dreamed of becoming for what should be all your life. But for me, my degree was just a piece of paper with as much significance as my receipt for my daily Iced Coconut Coffee at Dunkin Donuts.
I knew going into college the limitations having a BA in Psychology had. I knew that graduate school was a requirement and that I would need to put in more than just a solid four years. But, I never really thought about it. All I ever wanted to do was make a difference in someones life – whether it be through my words, or my voice. Psychology quickly became a hobby and an interesting subject in high school, so in order to convince my parents that I was, indeed, doing something more than pounding away at a typewriter (I own a typewriter that I bought at a garage sale. It has a digital screen, but is still so authentic), coming up with fictional stories about girls finding themselves all while finding love, I decided on psychology. I decided on counseling and to put my dreams for writing aside. I could always revisit that. (I am and I will).
But here I am, one year post-college, with nothing more than a degree that’s collected dust. That sentence sounded much more morbid than I intended. I am proud of how far I’ve gotten academically, as I am the first person in my family to graduate college. I have a plan and am working towards my Masters and becoming an LPC. But no matter how much confidence and faith I have in my plan and the track I’ve set out for myself, I can’t help but second guess some of my moves and decisions. I have some people who tell me it’s natural, while others are chirping in my ear, wondering why I haven’t got it all figured out yet. With both the devil and angel hanging on my shoulders, I’m honestly not quite sure what to believe.
As a little kid, you see the life you want for yourself. You land your dream career, find your dream man and live the dream life. Growing up, I went from wanting to be a dancer and actor, to teacher, lawyer, doctor, writer, actress. With each year that passed, I added a new career to pursue. While my career paths changed as often as the sun set, there was all a common thread amongst what I wanted for myself. I wanted to make something of myself. I wanted to change someone – anyone’s life, and make a difference even in the smallest way. Nothing about what I wanted as a child changed today. My motive is still the very same and as aforementioned, I am working on it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t question my decisions. Some days, I really loathe the way I went about my life and others, I am confident that I will end up where I belong. Right now, I’m nowhere I want to be, nor am I anywhere close to where I need to be. I often find that I’m stuck in limbo, not sure of my direction and quite honestly, not sure which way is up. Some days I feel I already sold my soul for a career that I’m not certain on. Other days, I know that this is what I want. There are moments, almost every day, that I question whether or not I sold myself short when I went to college. But what’s done is done, and I can’t possibly go back now.
Sadly, it seems as though I’m in a different place than most of my friends. That’s the funny thing about being in your early 20s – some people go straight from college into a career and live what I can only imagine to be the dream life, while others are stuck trekking through muddy water. While I am still seemingly on a positive path, I can’t help but feel still feel stuck from time to time and feel that pang of jealousy when I hear about my friends talking about their first year in their career. I envy everyone who has it all figured out, or those who put on a good front, making it look like they are all put together. Here I am, floundering in a pool of confusion and apprehensiveness, while others seem to be so sure of themselves. I envy my friends who can take a weekend trip to a different city to explore, my friends who can go to Happy Hour in the city because there’s a spot around the corner from their office, my friends who can spend their weeks working at a job they love so much that it doesn’t even make it feel like they’re working, and then spending their weekends together, drinking, laughing and talking. While I wish nothing but the best for every single one of my friends, and am so incredibly proud of and happy for all of their job successes and triumphs this past year, I really am so jealous – and rarely do I ever feel jealous.. like real, actual jealousy. (But don’t worry, everyone, it’s not an unhealthy amount of jealousy, I promise!)
The thing is, I’m afraid that if I wait too long, the spark within me will fade. That if I keep pursuing something that doesn’t (always) ignite a passion into my bones, then I would have settled for a career mainly because it would please others around me. I am afraid that there is so much more out there for me than what I’m settling on, and I’m afraid that I will never get the chance to know the difference.
I miss the naivety I once had as a little girl. I miss how fondly I thought of the future and how much hope I had for what was to come. Perhaps it’s the sudden sadness I’ve been overcome with at 3 in the morning (yes, I am typing away at 3 – almost 4 am); of faded hopes and unfulfilled dreams. But sometimes, I get overwhelmed by the finality of everything. It’s a heartbreaking realization, knowing how fleeting time is – knowing that I am never going to live any of this over again. Time passes by quickly, and if I don’t take hold of the time I’m allotted on this earth, all of my hopes and wishes and dreams could very well evaporate into thin air. That terrifies me. I am so often struck by the sheer intensity of the infinite – how the world still moves on, while we don’t, and how we must be vigilant in protecting what’s ours while we’re here. Life is far too short to feel anything less than pure passion and to feel unfulfilled. Today could be all I have. Today could be all you have. And then what would become of my (or your) head full of ideas and heart full of dreams? Let that marinate….
“I don’t know, I feel a little bit like I failed, you know? I’m watching all my friends move on with their lives. And they’re all moving forward and it’s like I’m stuck here, standing still.” -Brooke Davis, One Tree Hill
Until next time!