Twentysomething…For Now

“Maybe you’ll never find your purpose. Lots of people don’t.”
“But then, I don’t even know why I’m alive!”
“Well, who does, really?”

There is so much truth in this. Really though, who does? Especially as a twentysomething. Finding your purpose seems like an insurmountable task, and if you are fortunate enough to think you’ve found yours, hold onto it forever and never let it go.

This past week, I went to go see Avenue Q. And just like every other musical I ever see, I over analyze and try to find the deeper meaning. And sure enough, I found one in this song, “For Now.”

The show follows Princeton, who graduated with an English degree, moves to Avenue Q, and is looking for his purpose. He’s lost himself a bit since graduating college, and makes a few mistakes along the way. Sound familiar? Yeah…this character’s name should really be Michael…

In the end, the cast sings, “For Now,” which is a reminder of just how temporary everything in life truly is. Your stress? Only for now. Feeling discomforted? Only for now. Your hair? It’s only here for now.

This song really resonated with me, especially at this point in my life, where I feel like every single aspect of my life is overwhelming. End of semester things at work, dumb final projects, graduation, moving to a new city, still looking for jobs…it’s just, endless. Or so it seems. But listening to this closing song, I was ready to burst into tears of joy because I was reminded that this phase of my life is really only here for now. All this pressure and stress will be over soon. And hell, I might as well try to enjoy whatever time I have left here.

“Nothing lasts, life goes on, full of surprises. You’ll be faced with problems of all shapes and sizes. You’re going to have to make a few compromises…for now.”

Right now, I am in the realization phase that I may have to make a few compromises. You can’t do it all, people, no matter how hard you try. I had this same revelation when I was 19, a sophomore in college…you think I would’ve learned by now? Also, PS, that was SIX years ago. Ew.

But here’s the thing, I feel like it’s impossible for me to devote 100% of my time to friends, family, relationships, job search, current job, grad school, part-time jobs…oh yeah, and the essentials: eating and sleeping. Neither of which I’ve been doing very much of lately. I have to make some compromises. And I’m done compromising the things that keep me healthy. Aka, eating and sleeping. So maybe it’s getting a B on a paper instead of staying up all night to finish it. Or maybe it’s delegating tasks, or leaving work at a relatively on-time time, and knowing that all those emails will still be there tomorrow.

What are your compromises? Either way, it’s only for now. Grad school and my current job are only for now…very literally speaking. Once those two end, there’ll be more time to focus on the job search. More time to refocus myself. And for now, that’s the compromise.

“Don’t stress, relax, let life roll off your backs. Except for death and paying taxes everything in life is only for now!”

There are some things I just can’t avoid, like the things so clearly stated in this song: death and paying taxes. And considering Tax Day just passed, I am VERY familiar with the twentysomething struggle of paying taxes. It’s kind of like, no matter how much you love your job, you still find yourself saying, “TGIF!” after a long week.

It’s speaking about the present moment. I may not know what my next step is, what I’m going to be doing or where, but that confusion is only for now. And for now, I’m going to try my best to live every day here, in the present, for now.

 

 

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After Twentysomething Years, I’m Finally Standing Up

I wasn’t going to write about this. I didn’t want to “shove it in everyone’s faces.” I didn’t think it related to being a twentysomething. I’ve always been cautious about sharing any of my political views. But these are the facts.

  1. Last week, I attended my first ever rally for a presidential candidate, and
  2. Today, I attended my first ever peaceful protest against a presidential candidate

Why am I sharing? Well, last night at work, a friend said to me, “I’m 23 now…and I feel like everything is changing.” I asked him why. “Because when you’re 23, you have to start making all of these really big life decisions that actually matter in your life.”

Which is why, after twentysomething years, I am finally standing up for social justice. A reporter at the protest today asked me, “Why did you decide to show up today?” The answer was simple. “I’m tired of being silent. I’m no longer able to not show up.”

A lot of people I talked to were afraid to go to a Trump protest. It makes sense. The videos I’ve seen are all terrifying…not only what Trump says, but even more so, what the people at the rallies believe to be true. I used to think it was a lack of education, or sheer ignorance. But I’ve learned that it isn’t a lack of education, it’s a lack of positive experiences with others who are different from themselves. Maybe they’ve never met a gay man who treated them with respect, or they’ve only ever seen the stereotypes. But when a gay man is standing on the street (read: me) in a peaceful, nonviolent manner, holding a sign that says, “Stick with Love,” maybe that’s the positive experience that they need. Maybe not, but maybe.

Dr. Martin Luther King preached six principles on nonviolence. The first, and the one that resonated with me the most today, reads, “Nonviolence is the way of life for courageous people.” This work is not easy, and it can be scary. But writing this blog, I am really proud of the people at that protest in a way that I have never felt about this community before.

Overall, the response was positive. People honked their horns in agreement, waved, gave us the thumbs up, cheered us on. It really was very encouraging, and I felt supported. The marchers were the ones who were standing up for what they believe it, standing up for what was right. It’s okay if not everyone was alongside us. Maybe that’s not where everyone is at in terms of their own inner activist. It took me 25 years to get to that place where I could hold a sign and march through town to peacefully protest a cause I know is right.

Don’t get me wrong…we definitely got some resistance. “Fuck you!” and “Trump 2016!” were popular choices. A few middle fingers.

But even in the face of resistance, change is still necessary, and growth through resistance is possible. As always, I have some helpful tips to share.

  1. Find a cause (and an opportunity) that you are passionate about.
    • Maybe it took me 25 years to jump into the activist world because I maybe knew a cause, but didn’t have the opportunity, or vice versa. This peaceful protest combined a social issue that I am passionate about with an opportunity to stand up.
  2. Educate yourself.
    • It’s easier to show up and stand up for what you believe in when you are more familiar with the cause.
  3. Find your sources of strength and bravery.
    • As Dr. King said, nonviolence is the way of life for courageous people. Know your sources of it – whether it’s friends, family, inner-strength. You will need it. The road to justice is long and arduous, but worth every step.

So like my friend said, 23 is when you make a lot of your biggest life choices. And even though I’m 25, I had to ask myself to make a choice…which side of history do I want to stand on?

Playing House, IRL.

Do you remember when you were a small child, playing House with your siblings or group of friends or maybe even your stuffed animals? It was my favorite game growing up. I had it all figured out – my little six year old self. I was married (to a woman), I had four kids, two dogs, was a famous chef, and my favorite color was blue. I was set.

But damn, how wrong I was about everything my future would be.

Being a twentysomething is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. And I know that sounds dramatic, but for all my other twentysomething friends out there, you know that’s the actual truth…right? A very wise professor told me earlier this week, as I was venting/complaining/crying in her office, that the twenties are the shit years. That’s it. The shit years, she said, just like that.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve had some really amazing experiences so far in my twenties. I really have discovered a deeper sense of myself, although, I’m coming to realize that that is an everlasting journey. And yet, at least in recent times, there is absolutely no stability in my life. At all. It could also be the fact that I’m graduating. But right now, I feel as if everything in my life is unstable, about to undergo a major transition. I’m graduating, aka losing my job (and have yet to find a new one). Not only that, but I have no idea what I want to do “when I grow up.” I’m trying to emotionally prepare myself for leaving so many amazing friends that I didn’t even realize I had in Buffalo until recently. It’s just…a lot. Everything is changing – relationships, friendships, jobs, location, school, my purpose, my path…and surprise! I have absolutely no control over any of it.

So, what do you do when you feel like your life is spiraling out of control?

  1. Just breathe
    • I’m not kidding. This really helps. Take a deep breath for 4 counts, hold for 2, and then release the breath.  Now repeat. Repeat again. I’ve been doing this a lot lately, because to be honest, I’ve needed it. Taking deep breaths centers you, and brings you back to your core. Everything else might be up in the air, but I still have breath, and having that reminder brings me back.
  2. Do what you need to do, so you can do what you want to do
    • You know what? I hate transcribing interviews. But if I want to graduate, I have to do it. And you want to know what else? The job search is incredibly stressful, but I need to apply to jobs so I can actually do something with my life after graduation. It sucks, and that’s okay, but some things, you just can’t avoid.
  3. Take time for yourself today, so you can be your best self tomorrow 
    • AKA, instead of going out with friends, buy yourself $50 worth of wine on a Friday night, stay in, drink, clean your room, and sleep. Hypothetically speaking, of course. And I can’t take credit for this one. A good friend of mine gave me this little nugget of advice. In other words, do what you need to do to take care of yourself today, right now, when you need it, so that way, you can be your best self for others, later.
  4. Trust the universe. 
    • This is my new favorite saying lately. I apologize, I feel like it’s been in the past twenty blog posts I’ve written, and I say it at least five times a day. But really, trust in the universe, and the universe will give back. Others choose to pray. I choose to trust in the universe. It’s the idea of karma. Send good vibes out, and good vibes will be returned.

And although it was much easier as a six year old playing House, it is (kind of) exciting to be actually living a real life now, no matter how stressful it may be.

 

Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty

“Things have a way of falling into place every time I have moved toward the things in my heart.”

This past week, I’ve been emailing back and forth with a few Selma friends, and they have this incredible way of slipping in little life lessons like the one above that are so incredibly inspiring, but also, terrifying.

Last night, I had a Disney movie marathon. I watched Sleeping Beauty for the first time! But watching Disney movies as a twentysomething is so different than how I remember them as a child. “A dream is a wish your heart makes.” And as a 5-year-old, it sounds so beautiful and hopeful and poetic. As a 25-year-old, there’s a large part of me that wants to say, “Shut the eff up, Disney” because I think it’s unrealistic, unattainable, and complicated.

But, does it have to be that way? What if we lived life in such a way that was a dream, because our heart wished for it? Or if we all moved toward the things in our heart?

It had me thinking a lot this week – what happened between the 5-year-old Disney movie viewer and the 25-year-old? Why is my perspective on life so much different? What happened to make me believe that I can’t follow my heart? Or that “following your heart” is such a silly, childish thing?

I could rant and rave all day about society and how societal standards have been pushed down onto all of us. For example, I’ve always thought about getting my ears pierced, but never did because 1. It is seen as ‘unprofessional’ and 2. ‘Men don’t have their ears pierced.’ So last week, I said “eff this,” and walked down the street and got my ears pierced. Boom. Take that, society.

But really, I think a lot of us live in this kind of way. We’re alive, but do we thrive? What’s holding us back from living a life that is just 100% pure joy, following our hearts? Yeah, yeah, I know. Life is complicated. There are some realities that get in the way.

Like, for example, when my contract is up in July, I will have no source of income. I need a job for financial security. That is a reality. And as much as I would love to “follow my heart” and just sit in a coffee shop and write all day long, that’s not financially feasible…right?

Here’s my Sleeping Beauty theory on following your heart.

Sleeping Beauty asleep

  1. Ignorance is bliss. 
    • Before my trip to Selma, I was on track to head to NYC and work in higher education and live happily every after until the day I die. And then I went to Selma, where someone told me to follow my heart, and all of a sudden, my ignorance was ripped away, and I was no longer living this blissful, peaceful idea of what I thought my life should’ve been like. In other words, I woke up.
  2. Exhaustion is real, and it ain’t pretty.
    • Okay, so I’ve awakened. I realize that there is a greater purpose in my life. But I have no effing idea how to get there, what to do, when, with who, etc. And I feel like all of these questions have an impending timeline. So when people ask me how I’m doing, it takes every ounce of self-control to stop myself from saying, “MY LIFE IS OUT OF CONTROL!!!!”
  3. Watch out for nonbelievers.
    • Some folks don’t believe in true love. Some people think following your heart is silly. You could listen to them (and be pricked by a spinning wheel) or you could listen to your heart, follow what you believe to be true, and lead yourself.
  4. Know your supports.sleeping-beauty-faries
    • I wouldn’t even be thinking about this right now if I didn’t have people who loved and cared about me in my life. I am so incredibly grateful for literally everyone I met in Selma and went on that trip with, because they have been my direct source of inspiration in following my own heart.

The one question I have though, after all this, is what do you really want? Deep down, in your core, what is your heart telling you?