Monday, December 17, 2012

In a year's time...

Exactly one year ago it was my graduation day.  It was a day I longed for with the culminating efforts over the years weighing heavier and heavier upon me as time went by.  It was the product of a thousand thousand hours of work, discovery, searching, finding, losing, and understanding.  I remember thinking that walking across the stage would not only change my educational status, but also change me forever.  I would somehow blossom, metamorphose.  I had planned ahead so detailed as to know which song I'd blast as I rode home in my car, the rush of sudden vindication coursing through my veins. 

It didn't happen that way.  Actually, I remember feeling nothing on the way home.  Nothing in place of the proposed elation that I had imagined.  No, this was something different.  I never really thought much of life post graduation.  It just didn't occur to me that I'd actually have to do more work and exercise more patience than I had ever in all my years consumed by academia.  I didn't feel elated.  I felt terrified.  The following weeks were full of emptiness, wondering and depression.  What had I just done all this work for?  It hadn't taken me very long to discover that I didn't want to be a high school teacher, but the alternative careers didn't just pop up as if they had been waiting in line.  Quite actually, it was I who had to wait in line.  I remember spending hours sitting in front of my computer (the one that got me through college -- covered in stickers and hand-painted flowers).  I thought I looked pretty ironic.  Here I was with my college degree, and all I had to show for it was hours spent sitting at my juvenile looking computer looking for big-girl jobs.  All of those impersonal job descriptions and minimum experience requirements I'd never meet.  What had life come to?

This is when some wonderful people really gave me a boost.  A much needed boost.  I learned to slow down.  I learned to listen to myself.  I wrote and wrote and wrote.  I wondered a lot, too.  I took some part time jobs to begin my search (and to pay the stack of bills that was busy piling up -- life and money were ready for me to pay, whether or not I had the career to support it).  I wasn't really happy.  I remember feeling so grateful that the same few wonderful people in my life would listen to me talk myself in circles over and over again about how I feel or how I should feel about my life.  In a way, I felt like the rug was ripped out from under me.  Who prepared me for this feeling?  Who told me that once I took that diploma and turned my tassle, I'm embark upon a journey more painful than the longest all-nighters buried in books?  I felt that something was wrong with me.  I felt like life hit the breaks, but I kept moving.  I hit the windshield! 

I don't know when I started to just accept it, that I'm not that special.  Or, rather, the relief of no longer feeling the need to be special.  Not having to be the first to find the most amazing job, be the best, take the most risks, be the most daring.  Recently, another great person in my life and I had a conversation about this.  From our early years on we're made to feel so special, so privileged, so magical.  We're told that we can be whatever we want to be and do whatever we want to do.  To a certain point, this is true.  Though I don't make all the calls in my life, I do feel pretty autonomous.  I think the root of it is that it doesn't matter if you've got it all figured out or not.  Everyone in the world is somewhere between here and there in some major way.  There is no such thing as "settled."  I knew my values, I knew my worth, and I knew who I could trust.  I actually had a lot. 

I decided to put the folder labeled "FIND A JOB NOW OR ELSE, YOU LAZY FOOL" toward the back of the file cabinet.  I did what I loved.  I blogged.  I worked in places where I could be near clothes, near people.  I knew those two things gave me fire and spark.  It wasn't as if everything were suddenly fixed, but it did feel better.  I started writing about places that I love, about stores that inspired me.  One of these subjects in my writing commanded my attention in such a way, and the people were so inspiring, that I knew my path was with them, somehow.  After some time and meeting some wonderful people, I'm now settling into what I hope to be a long and happy career with Hot Mama.  I'm less than six months away from marrying someone who's better than my future-fawning, younger self could have ever hoped for.  I feel more spice and energy and meaning than I thought I could.  I feel like I wanted to feel when I walked across that stage exactly one year ago today.  I am so ready. 


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