Twentysomething Changes

Most of the ideas for this blog come from something relevant in my life that has happened that week. If I’m lucky, it relates to being a twentysomething, and then BAM, a blog post is made. This week, three unique things stick out in my mind that I am itching to write more about: my first time white water rafting, my sister’s high school graduation, and the Marriage Equality Act being passed by the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, none of those things directly relate to being a twentysomething. However, there is a similar theme. Change.

  1. White Water Rafting (A Change in Routine)
    • I will be the first to admit, I did not want to go white water rafting this week. I like my routine, and driving an hour to go do something I had never done before did not appeal to me at all. I knew it would be outdoors, wet, and dirty. Things I know I do not enjoy. But mostly because I was voluntold, I went. I thought, “Hey, maybe this won’t be so bad! I may actually enjoy this!” I’ll say that I was right: it was outdoors, wet, and dirty. And I was also right in that I knew those were things I do not like. So therefore, I don’t think I will be white water rafting again any time soon. But could it have been something worthwhile? Sure. Breaking the routine can bring unsure change, but it can be worth it, especially if you find something new you love to do. Try something new!
  2. My Sister’s High School Graduation (A Change of Roles)
    • Over my twentysomething years, the roles I’ve played have come and gone. Very few have remained the same since birth. Son, male…that’s about it. My other roles have been fluid and are constantly changing. When I was at my sister’s high school graduation, I couldn’t believe it had been six years since my own. But even more so, I sat in that audience with a beaming glow of Big Brother Pride. Even just thinking of the six years since I graduated, my role has changed so much. High school student, college student, college graduate, full-time professional, graduate student, twentysomething. And I think that’s to be expected—not just in this twentysomething limbo, but all throughout life. Roles will change. But that’s what keeps life interesting. I don’t think I’d want to keep the same role for the next twenty years. A welcomed change, I’d say.
  3. The Marriage Equality Act passed by the Supreme Court (A Change of Times)
    • When my sister came rushing downstairs this past Friday to share this news with me, I dropped my cereal bowl on the table and started crying. I can’t remember the last time I cried. But this decision means so much not only to me, but for the next generation. The generation who will grow up and maybe, just maybe, not feel suppressed for who they choose to love. I know there is still a long way to go for true equality, but this decision is momentous. Two moms, two dads…maybe it won’t be seen as wrong, just seen as different. And that in itself is huge. Twentysomethings have seen so much political change in the past twentysomething years, and the Marriage Equality Act is just one cherry on top of the massive ice cream sundae. We are also one of the most socially active generations, so keep fighting for what you believe to be right!

A lot of people are afraid of change. Change means something new, and there is always a fear of the unknown. But change can also imply growth. Not always, but sometimes. And that makes it worth the risk.

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Grin and Bear It

Grin and bear it.

Fake it ‘til you make it.

Don’t worry, be happy.

Lately, I’ve been muttering these idioms to myself over and over again. They aren’t new phrases—I’ve heard them before—but something about my life recently has brought back these words in full swing. Which, to be honest, I completely hate. There’s something to be said about not showing all of your emotions on your sleeve, but to act out a life that you don’t feel is truly yours is unhealthy and unproductive.

And yet, here I am.

Is it just me, or are these phrases particularly true for the twentysomethings of the world? I don’t even think I knew what those phrases meant until I was in my twenties! And how sad is it that they even exist? I wish we could just say what we are feeling, act as we wish (within reason) without the consequences that come with being an adult.

Not entirely coincidentally, I think I’ve said, “I hate being an adult!!!” more times this week than I have in my entire adult life combined.

Here are twentysomething things I have been feeling particularly grouchy about as a twentysomething, grinning and bearing it, faking it until I make it:

  1. My bank account
    • No matter how many days I work and how much money I save, I always end up at Target spending $40 for no apparent reason.
  2. People in general
    • You feel me on this one, right?
  3. My weekends
    • i.e. sitting alone at Starbucks all night Friday, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday.
  4. My job
    • Yup, even this lately. I refuse to believe that part of being an adult means accepting that your job is “just a job.” I will continue to search for something I truly am passionate about.
  5. My hobbies
    • Hobbies cost money, in case you didn’t know. So if I want to start taking Italian lessons, learn to play the cello, or even pick up knitting again, all of those things cost money (please refer to #1).
  6. Cooking
    • I’ve resorted to opening a can of black beans and a can of corn and throwing it onto some tortilla chips for a homemade Mexican meal.
  7. Going to the gym
    • I just don’t want to.
  8. Laundry
    • Again?! How many pairs of underwear do I need to buy to avoid doing laundry forever?
  9. Cleaning my apartment
    • I’m not that dirty…and yet, no matter how hard I try, there is always some sort of cleaning to be done.
  10. Eating past reasonable hours
    • Two nights ago, I couldn’t sleep at all and ended up making myself a bowl of pasta and 4:30 in the morning. It was not okay.
  11. The weather
    • Is it summer? Is it winter? I wish it would make up its mind.
  12. Clothes
    • 85% of my time is spent wearing tucked in button-down shirts. Remember the days of t-shirts or hoodies and ripped jeans?
  13. What I want to do vs. what I actually do
    • If possible, I’d just work at Starbucks for the rest of my life. Yes, that would make me happy. But is that what I’m doing? No.
  14. Lack of social circle
    • A broken record on this one. It’s hard to make friends in a new place!
  15. Long-distance friendships
    • …which are even harder to maintain. And in addition to sounding like a chore, I genuinely miss my friends.
  16. Lack of significant person
    • I hadn’t thought much about this one at all until I realized, last night, that I haven’t even had a romantic interest since my last boyfriend. Where are all the people at?!
  17. Traveling to see family
    • My sister is a senior this year. Prom, graduation, graduation party. And as much as I love seeing the family, driving five hours one way to see them is really starting to feel like a lot.
  18. Responsibility
    • Since when am I responsible during the summer? I thought summer was for fun and playtime and enjoyment and endless ice cream cones. Nope. Adulthood has got you fooled.
  19. Obligations
    • When you’re an adult, sometimes you really just don’t have a choice. No matter how much you kick and scream and don’t want to.
  20. The past
    • Plagued by the What Ifs?
  21. The present
    • Plagued by the What Now?
  22. The future
    • Plagued by the What Nexts?
  23. This blog post
    • A whiny compilation of twentysomething things that I’ve been annoyed about that come with being an adult, therefore forcing me to do nothing but grin. And bear it.

Welcome to adulthood.

The Value of Italian Gold

I don’t remember when I stopped wearing the golden Italian chain that hung around my neck. I think it was sometime around the death of my grandfather, years ago. On his death bed, from what I was told, he took off his gold chain, hung heavy with a thick crucifix, and told my father to give it to me to wear. Yet, I’ve never been a very religious person, so I felt as if I was going against myself to have such a thick gold crucifix hanging around my neck.

And yet, almost five years later, I find myself wearing my grandfather’s golden chain around my neck as I write this newest entry. During my time at home this weekend, I found myself creeping into my parents’ closet, where most of the gold is kept, slowly opening the creaking box, and revealing all of our Italian gold.

Among the treasure was my golden chain. Keeping the crucifix company was il corno, a small golden horn that signifies good fortune, and an Italian trio of charms that signifies hope, love, and charity. Soundlessly, I slipped my grandfather’s crucifix off the chain and back into the jewelry box. With the two other relics still on the chain, I cautiously clasped the jewelry around my throat; it felt heavy at first. However, at the same time, I felt like I had been reunited with a piece of myself that had been missing for all these years. I felt whole again. And as you can tell from the main photo, all of my other family members also choose to wear similar gold jewelry.

Like the chain, I am now ready to be reunited with some values that may have been sitting on the back burner. Which is why, for this week’s post, I want to talk about values as a twentysomething. I wish I could write an advice post on this topic. Something like: “Ten Tips on How to Maintain Strong Values.” But I can’t do that. Values are so personal to each of us. What I can do, however, is share some of my own experiences in hopes that some of you may be able to relate. Because chances are, as a twentysomething, your values will waiver a bit. They may even change completely. And that’s okay. And in an attempt to convince myself of that, I want to share three values that I’ve been reflecting on lately. Three values that I’m going to be focusing on a lot more from this point onward.

Family
Wearing a golden chain won’t make me any closer to my family, geographically speaking. But when times are tough, or I’m having a bad day, I know I will feel that chain brushing against my neck and lifting me up with my family’s best wishes. Ever since I moved away to college, this is a value I’ve struggled with. It’s challenging to remain close to people who are hours and hours away. And during all this time, my family has changed. I have changed. And because I don’t see them every day, the changes seem so drastic. It’s easy to get caught up in my own world away from everyone, but at the end of the day, my value is in my family.

Self-Worth
For me, this is a tale of placing most of your self-worth in one single person, only to have that same person slash it to pieces. It’s been over a year since this happened, but damn, some days it still feels like I’m climbing an uphill battle in trying to get back those pieces of myself. Thinking forward, I’m reflecting on where I place my self-worth. My job? My schoolwork? And that is a very big question. I think it’s more of a journey, something that will be continuously ongoing. But I’m going to be more intentional about building my own self-worth as a single man. Because that way, when I do meet someone else, I won’t fall into the old habit of completely morphing into them. I will stand tall as my own person.

Congruence
How many of us have heard the phrase “work-life balance?” Well, to be honest, I’m freaking tired of it. I get it, we all need to have balance in our lives. But unfortunately, what that phrase has turned into for me has been two selves: Work/Professional Michael and Personal Life Michael. Which didn’t work out well, because incidentally, Work Michael became Life Michael. So rather than trying to figure out all these different selves, I am making a vow to myself to Just Be. I want to be congruent with myself, have all identities merge and agree and compliment and mix with each other. And Just Be.

What are some other values you may be struggling with as a twentysomething? Or any that you are currently reaching towards? Feel free to share your own stories!

Seven Reasons Why Ignorance is Bliss (…or not)

We’ve all heard the phrase “ignorance is bliss.” But is it? When I was a young college student, I never realized how ignorant I was to some aspects of life. You could even say I was in bliss. But now as a twentysomething, I’ve learned a few things about life that I feel may disprove this “ignorance is bliss” phrase.

  1. Taxes? What’s a tax? I’m not sure, my dad always does my taxes. I don’t know what all those little numbers mean, and I don’t know how many claims or whatever I’m supposed to have. Zero? One? Does it really matter? Those government forms are all so complicated anyway.
    • Yet, doing my own taxes this year made my bank account a little fluffier when it came around to receiving my own tax return. I guess being a single person paying back college loans does have some benefit…
  1. You know, I’ve heard alcohol has some negative effects on behavior, but I’m just going to forget about all those for tonight. What’s the occasional drunk text conversation? Blame it on the alcohol, right?
    • Well, not exactly. As a twentysomething, alcohol either plays a huge role in your life, or no role at all. Your life could be filled with happy hours, social gatherings, and work events…all with alcohol. Or you could be like me, a fifty year old man, who barely drinks. Regardless, not consuming vast amounts of alcohol (or at least keeping track), might be better for your physical health, or for your conscious.
  1. I’m sorry, HOW many calories are in that?! It doesn’t matter. I’m just going to ignore you and eat whatever the hell I want. And because I’m so busy running around being a grown-up, I will barely even notice what I’m putting in my body. All I know is that it tastes pretty damn good.
    • Yet, buying all my own groceries and cooking all of my own meals has taught me a thing or two about nutrition. Always drink a glass of water right when you wake up and don’t stuff your face right after a meal. Surprisingly, you don’t feel like a rock is living in your stomach anymore.
  1. I don’t feel like doing anything today!! I don’t want to go to work, I don’t want to get out of bed, I don’t feel like being responsible at all right now. Can you write me a note to get out of today? Please? ::coughcough:: I’m sick.
    • Not how it works anymore. I can’t just skip class or call out of work. It takes more effort to not be in class than it does to drag myself there, and my precious vacation days at work are limited. Yet, at the end of the day, there is something rewarding to be said about actually getting up out of bed and making a living for yourself, financially and otherwise.
  1. Hi, new friends! Over 150 clubs and organizations on campus? Great! I’m bound to find someone or something to catch my interest. Oh wait…what do you mean adult friendships don’t work like that? You have to put in actual effort to create and maintain friendships now? Huh, who would’ve thought?
    • And yet, those friendships have now become so much more meaningful. Being a twentysomething has made me question probably 90% of my friendships. Were we friends just because it was convenient and I saw you on campus every day? Or are we actual friends who enjoy each other’s company and make the time for each other? And when you figure it out, an infinite value is placed on those true friends.
  1. Can you repeat that? It costs how much?! That’s okay, I work a little part time job on the side to pay for everything, which mostly consists of beer and pizza on the weekends. Luckily for me, all of my finances (meal plan, on-campus room, and tuition) are all accumulating into this black abyss called student loan debt that I know nothing about.
    • Although, having financial responsibility does hold some perks. First of all, I actually know what I’m spending my money on. If someone wants to go out to dinner, or if I want to buy a new bike, I can confidently look in my bank account and then assess whether or not my bank account can afford it.
  1. What was that? Great, now I’m going to overanalyze everything you just said, think about it for weeks, only to come to the conclusion that you must hate me for something that I have absolutely no idea about. So please, just allow me to sulk over here because I have no idea what I did to make you so upset, or why you just said that.
    • Yeah, that doesn’t happen anymore. As a twentysomething, there is a bliss in an awareness of self. In other words, you know that everyone else can just take off. You are confident in who you are as a person (with some minor blips along the way), and you can tell others where to go, being comfortable and confident in yourself.