In which I relate to the Leaning Tower of Pisa

I can say, with an estimated guess, that most people who read this blog are loyal Facebook friends. With that said, most of you reading this probably know that I spent the past ten days in Europe. And for those of you that didn’t know or aren’t friends with me on Facebook, I spent the last ten days in Europe!!

And as much as I want to blog all about my trip, I have to stay true to the twentysomething theme of this particular blog. However, there was one day in particular that really stuck out to me. Docking in Livorno, Italy, I knew we had a full day ahead. We were scheduled for a driving tour through Pisa and Florence, seeing some of Italy’s biggest and most famous monuments. Two in particular were the Statue of David and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Since some of you might have clicked this link just to see some beautiful pictures of the trip, here you go!

But in my journal that night (yes, I kept a travel journal), I found an interesting comparison between these two monuments. I wrote: “The Tower of Pisa is not famous because it’s the most beautiful, most adored, or even biggest monument in Italy. It’s famous because it leans—because it’s unique. Because it does something that no other building is known for. It makes me wonder…shouldn’t it be like that for all people? For me? …especially in comparison to the Statue of David, which is known for being the best, most beautiful sculpture from the very best artist, Michelangelo.”

I continued: “Are you more of a Statue of David? Or the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Not everyone can be the Statue of David, and to be honest, as great as that would be, it’s a lot of pressure to uphold such a high standard all the time! The Tower of Pisa is much more relatable, anyway. Everyone leans a bit off course, sometimes. Goes a bit off track from the original plan.”

And in this journal entry/blog post, I confess that on my trip to Europe, I found myself relating with an inanimate leaning building. Awesome.

It makes sense though, doesn’t it? Think about it. If I think about all the people that I know, there is only a very small handful of people that can equate to the Statue of David, metaphorically. This one guy in particular, we met during college. He is absolutely gorgeous now—and was then, too. Perfect amount of scruff, tousled hair, built, literally a model traveling all over the world. We shared one kiss in the rain and I will never again forget that one moment with my own Statue of David.

The reality is, though, I idolized him more than anything else. The Statue of David is a perfect representation of man, literally known for being the most proportional marble statue in the history of the world, epitomizing this perfection. I wouldn’t want the pressure of that reputation, and I definitely wouldn’t want to be with someone who I saw in that way, because I would always feel inferior.

So, if we’re speaking in metaphorical Italian monuments, are you the Statue of David? Or are you the Tower of Pisa? The Tower may be leaning a bit, off the course from its original path, but still standing tall and proud. What’s interesting about the Tower of Pisa is that without its “past” of going off course and leaning to the side, it wouldn’t even be famous at all…just another building gracing the ground of Italy.

And fun fact about the Tower of Pisa: Italian architects, once they realized how much the Tower was leaning, decided to dig underneath the Tower a bit and pour in concrete underneath and all around. That way, it won’t lean over anymore, to the point of falling down and hitting the ground.

I have to say, I’m inspired by that building a bit. In addition to being famous for its complete uniqueness (as opposed to its perfection), it also has the ability to concrete itself and keep itself from falling over.

So, question of the day: Are you the Statue of David? Or the Leaning Tower of Pisa?


A Taste of Life: Tapas Style

Hello from Barcelona! I am posting this ~special edition~ twentysomething post all the way from Spain, my first ever international post. My parents decided to treat the family to a sure-to-be-amazing European vacation, cruising our way through the waters to explore cities in Spain, Italy, and France. I wasn’t sure if I’d even have wifi to post this week (which was making me anxious as it was), but here I am! And considering my special location this week, I wanted to make sure it was something relevant to the trip.

I’ve been in Spain less than 24 hours at this point, and I already feel like I could write a novel about it. Everyone looks like they’ve stepped out of an H&M catalog. The European architecture sprawls up into every corner of every building for blocks and blocks. In Barcelona, I haven’t done much except stare in awe at the beauty and amazement of being in Europe. The highlight was walking around an open market for hours…fresh fruits, thinly sliced meats, brightly colored bouquets of flowers, and the chattering chattering of so many languages around us. Being in a new country allows you to notice things that you’ve never really noticed before—in particular, languages, people, and foods.

Tonight for dinner, the family was looking for two things:

  1. Somewhere inside to escape the “winter” cold in Spain, and
  2. Something authentically Spanish

Surprisingly, the first criteria was more difficult to find than the second. And although we were tempted more than once by “Hard Rock Café: Barcelona,” we decided against it for a two-story tapas restaurant glowing bright with hanging lights and cheering soccer fans crowded around the inside bar.

There was only one problem: no one in our family had ever had tapas before. We didn’t know how it worked, how to order, what to order, how much to order, etc. etc. The only “tapas” we had ever had was the appetizer platter from Applebee’s, and that doesn’t really count. And our selection was so drastically different than the usual mozzarella stick and potato skin. We were so confused, we almost walked out of the restaurant. How many Italians does it take to figure out a plate of tapas…?

Anyway, we ended up staying and enjoyed a random little assortment of authentic Spanish tapas (I use the word “enjoy” lightly, here). And as a true twentysomething blogger,  I was thinking: “What can I write about for tomorrow’s post?” And it hit me then. Living a twentysomething life is a lot like going to a tapas restaurant for the first time.

  1. At first, you have no idea what you’re doing.
  2. You’re waiter is supposed to be helping you, but at the end of the day, you have to be the one to make your own decisions.
  3. You’re overwhelmed by the choices in front of you (all of which have equal potential to be both amazing and dreadful).
  4. When you are unsure about something, it’s easier to talk through it with the people sitting around the table.
  5. Trying new things can be an exciting new adventure, but it can also leave you hungry and wanting more.
  6. Don’t give up on something after one time.

I think these Tapas Life Tips are useful to anyone, not just those in their twenties, but I thought they were especially useful and relevant to those of us who still feel like we may be trying to “figure it out.”

I like the idea of tapas more than I think I like actual tapas. In my mind, appetizer-type foods are meant to be before a big meal, not actually the meal itself. BUT I’m glad that we at least tried it. And now, having had an authentic tapas experience, I would be much more likely to try it again. I guess that speaks to life a bit, doesn’t it?

I’m (Mostly) an Adult!

In last week’s post, I wrote about the “right” way to becoming an adult. Historically speaking, this included completing all levels of education (usually only high school), obtaining a full-time job, getting married, establishing a home, and having children. In that order. No kids? Oh well, too bad. Not an adult. Accidentally (or purposefully) got pregnant before marriage? Nope! You didn’t do it “the right way.”

Well, it’s time to throw all of that out the window, people. Because in today’s world, there isn’t any “right way” to becoming an adult. But this idea really got me thinking. If there isn’t a right way to grow into adulthood, then what does it mean to become an adult? How can adulthood be defined? Because even though I don’t have kids, I’m not married, and I haven’t yet established a home, I still feel very much so like an adult…(says the guy who still watches Spongebob).

So in my mind, here are the twentysomething signs that make me an “adult.”

  1. Having enough money to purchase a cup of coffee when you’re in need of a caffeine boost, and not having to worry about how much of a detriment it will be on your bank account.
  2. …while also acknowledging that a Quad Venti extra-hot soy hazelnut cappuccino is a beverage that should probably only be seen as a “Treat Yo Self,” because that shit ain’t cheap, and it adds up.
  3. Going to the grocery store and being confident that you can make a plethora of relatively decent meals from the ingredients that are scattered all around the store.
  4. Paying bills. A necessarily evil…but I really like my electricity and hot water, so I guess I’ll continue to write those checks.
  5. Eating relatively healthy, or at least understanding and being aware that eating Burger King five times a week is probably not the best option for my body.
  6. Finding a job that you love, or at least having aspects of your job that you know you enjoy.
  7. Working hard, but not too hard. Everything is about balance, especially between work life and personal life. It’s not easy, but it’s so so important.
  8. Realizing that if you don’t “click” with someone on a first date, it’s nothing personal. They just aren’t the right fit for you at that time.
  9. Coffee is preferred over vodka. Most of the time.
  10. Seeing laundry as an unnecessary task, until you realize how much you’ve already spent on underwear just to avoid doing said laundry.
  11. Offering to pay for your friend’s coffee or lunch, just because you can and it’s a nice gesture.
  12. Cleaning your apartment suddenly becomes fun…? And if not fun, you can at least look around afterwards and feel rewarded in your cleaning efforts.
  13. There is a generation younger than me, and they use lingo that I don’t know. I still don’t know what the hell “salty” means, but I’m hip enough to know that it’s kind of an outdated term now. Right…?
  14. Happy hour is the new favorite hour of the week.
  15. You may still call your parents for small adulting-type questions, but that doesn’t make you any less of an adult.
  16. You hear your parents voice in your head almost on the daily. Wear a jacket! Don’t forget to bring an extra pair of gloves! And you realize they were right all along.
  17. You are much more comfortable and confident in your own skin now then you were, say, when you were fifteen. Even though it may not feel that way all the time.
  18. Early weekend mornings can either be seen as a peaceful, quiet bliss, or a time to sleep in, but either way, you praise the person that created the weekend.
  19. Quality over quantity. In almost every aspect of life. You finally understand this rule.
  20. You may not talk to your good friends every single day, but you know that they are always there for you, no matter what.
  21. Life can throw curve balls, but that’s what keeps things exciting.

So regardless of whatever the traditional pathway was, the fact is, that pathway is no longer the pathway. It’s pathway, for some, sure. But for me, I have twentysomething other ways that make me feel “adult.”

Baby Pictures and Mustaches

This is a picture of my parents from their wedding in 1989. My mom was 22, my dad was 29. Aren’t they a beautiful couple? (Check out my dad’s mustache, lol). They are both stunning and beautiful and happy. And in their twenties.

This is a picture of my mom and I from 1991. My mom was 24 and I was just a babe. Wasn’t I precious?

Just in case you all didn’t know, I am currently 24 years old. AKA, the same age my mom was when she had her first child.

Now, I know what you’re all thinking, but don’t worry. This is not going to be a blog post whining and complaining about how I, at 24 years old, don’t have a partner or any kids. Times were different back then, right? Right. It was only 24 years ago, but it seems like an eternity (no offense, parents). A time that can only be seen in the movies. Only talked about in stories of generations past. And yet, here we are.

Granted, I do know some folks today who were married by their early twenties and started having kids right away. That is definitely not me. Maybe if I found the love of my life, maybe if I didn’t have so many emotional walls, etc. etc.

It really is a different time, though. And coincidentally enough, I’m learning about this in one of my classes. This week, we’re learning about the transition into adulthood. In academic terms, we’re learning about the “variability and sequencing of adulthood pathways.” In other words, there are so many freaking options to take into the adult world, and there is no “right” way to do things anymore.

Back in the day, there was one pathway into adulthood (and this is actually supported by research): finish school, get married, buy a house, have children. In that order. But now, it’s not like that. What makes an adult? Because I haven’t finished school, I’m not married, and I don’t have children…but I certainly would like to think of myself as an adult. But now, people are doing these “adult” things in whatever order they want. People are getting more education, which means they are most likely in school until their twenties or even thirties. Because of this, some people are getting married while still in school. Or some people are having children before they are married. It’s all good, because there isn’t a “right” way to be an adult.

Hold up.

Maybe this is the epiphany I needed. There isn’t a right way to be an adult.

If you look on social media, you see all these people living these amazing lives. Friends in big cities doing big things. Traveling. Meeting new people. Making memories with good friends.

And then there’s me. Or so it feels. Working away by myself in grad school and working a full-time job. It’s exhausting. But…there is no right way to be an adult.

This new motto might not change anything. I’m still working the same job, the same (lack of) social circle, the same city. But it helps to know that I’m not doing anything “wrong,” necessarily. It’s just different. It’s different than my parents, it’s different than the generation before me, it’s different than some people my age. But if I’m being honest, most people I’ve talked to about this are in the same situation. There is comfort in solidarity.

So if you’re like me, I have two quick tips to leave you with today.

  1. Talk to other twentysomethings
    • I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve made a comment about a twentysomething struggle, and the person I was talking with was like, “Ugh me too!” It is such a great feeling knowing you’re not alone.
  2. Make your own “right” way
    • When is your opportunity for change? Mine is next year when I graduate. You want to move to a city? You want to travel? Well why the hell not? This twentysomething time is a time for you, especially if you aren’t fitting into the traditionally “right” way of adulting. Make your own way.

Trick AND Treat: A Twentysomething Perspective

Being a twentysomething is all about gaining perspective. Granted, life in general is all about gaining perspective. As a thirty- and forty-something and beyond, I still hope to be gaining new perspectives because that means growth.

One perspective that has hit me particularly hard in the twentysomething phase is acknowledging the gray area. Or in other words, not everything is going to be in neat little packages. Life is rarely all black or all white…there is usually a little mix of both. Oftentimes, it is in this weird middle area that is undefined and a little bit messy. Undefined. Outside the box. And that is a difficult perspective to grapple with because we, as humans, like to fit everything into these neat little boxes. We categorize because it’s easy and makes us comfortable. Yet being comfortable doesn’t allow for growth.

Another part of acknowledging the gray area is realizing that there are always multiple perspectives: there are at least two sides to every story. Because of this, the word “or” has basically been removed from my vocabulary. Life is a spectrum of opposites and all the spaces in between. Happy or sad? Good or evil? Trick or treat? The reality is, the answer is probably a little bit of both, meeting somewhere in the middle. Most days, I’m mostly happy, mostly good. But I think there’s always a little in between, a little gray area.

In the spirit of yesterday’s Halloween holiday, being a twentysomething is no exception to this gray area rule. Being a twentysomething is not a matter of Trick or Treat. It really should be Trick and Treat. Because to be honest, it’s full of tricks, but it’s also full of treats.

Here are my top ten Trick and Treat twentysomething moments.

  1. Paying for laundry is definitely an inconvenience, but clean clothes are nice.
  2. Grocery shopping and cooking meals is time consuming, but having the choice to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, is incomparable.
  3. Having to work a full-time job is, no surprise, a lot of work. But the full-time paycheck is a nice incentive to keep going.
  4. Making friends as a twentysomething is more difficult, but the friends that you do have are some of the best yet. Quality over quantity.
  5. Being single can feel lonely, but there is no better time for self-discovery, exploration, and improving your sense of self-love and self-care.
  6. Having to take on new adult responsibilities can be overwhelming, but the new-found sense of independence is worth it.
  7. Figuring out who you are and who you want to be is one of the most complicated things you will ever think about and try to execute, but you have an incredible sense of self-worth after you re-work through your own identity and your own values.
  8. There seems to be little to no time for anything “fun,” but when you do have the time, it is the most glorious part of your day.
  9. There is no longer a “norm” for how to live your life, but the freedom to live your life however you want is extremely liberating.
  10. Although life can seem challenging at times, it will all come around. Some times are worse than others, but the gray area shows that no matter how tough it is, there is always a little spot of light just around the corner.

The important thing to keep in mind, especially when you’re in a rut, is that there is always an “and.” For example, I might be feeling really awful about something one day, but I need to keep in mind the “and.” The gray area. I might feel the tricks, but I also need to acknowledge the treats.

So what are your tricks? What are your treats? And how do you find the balance in between the two?