Ending A Chapter

As of right now, not including today, I have 18 days left in Buffalo. I remember the days when I was sitting in a back-to-back class where it felt like I had 18 years left in Buffalo and that it would never end. But now, 18 days.

I’m not necessarily sad about leaving the physical place that is Buffalo. I get the whole revitalization piece, and the Bills are like, okay…but what I’ll miss most about it is the people. I have met so many incredible people over the last two years, in completely unexpected ways. I have also strengthened some already existing friendships over the past two years, and that has also been incredible.

So in the words of one of my good friends…TO FRIENDSHIP!

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But, as we all know, as one door closes, another door opens. And even though I may not know what that other door is, I know that another opportunity will be waiting for me. But in the meantime, I wanted to make sure I learned to be at peace with Buffalo, specifically, leaving Buffalo and ending another life chapter. So, here are my words of wisdom for this awfully tricky time.

  1. Make peace with the past and right your wrongs
    • This is probably the toughest one on this list, which is why I started with it. It’s also the most important. When I left my job before coming to Buffalo, I really couldn’t wait to leave. It wasn’t necessarily the people or the town or the place or any one thing in particular. It’s just that, I wasn’t at peace with my situation. And rather than try to make peace with it, I just up and left. And looking back, I think it would’ve been nice to have that comfort in officially closing that chapter 100%.
  2. Make a Bucket List, and do it
    • I’ve thought about starting a Buffalo Bucket List before today, but never went through with it – I had thought I had done all the Buffalo things I wanted to do. But then I’ve been seeing all these “Buffalo Checklists” on Facebook, and I have a few friends who are desperately trying to convince me to stay in Buffalo…and even though I have no intention of staying, I might as well make the most of it while I’m here and enjoy the time I have left.
  3. Reflect on time spent
    • I spent two years out of my life in Buffalo! Not only that, but it’s where I did my graduate work, and where I had a really amazing start in diversity education work. I will never forget these two years. But it’d also be easy for me to kind of just move on to the next thing and say, “Yeah, two years in Buffalo for grad school,” and that’s it. When the reality is, I learned so much here and met so many great people.
  4. Say goodbye
    • Maybe this one is obvious…but I think it goes back to making peace with the place you are leaving. With the chapter you are closing. Make sure to take the time to thank all the people who have been influential during your time there.
  5. Plan a return trip
    • It’s hard to leave all these people that I love and care about. For me, it’s always been easier to leave if I already had plans to come back. Fortunately, I am working to help plan a conference that will be happening in Buffalo in October, so I will definitely be back for that. But even if you never want to go back to the place ever again, plan a trip with the people from that place, the friends you’ve made, so you know when you’ll be seeing them again.

And just remember, even if the next chapter isn’t in sight, you are the author of your own life.

Twentysomething: The Years of Limbo

Never before in my life have I ever been in a place that is so completely and utterly contradicted. I am a student, but I’m also a staff member. I’m young, but I’m also a professional. Being 25 has spurred this new feeling of adulthood that I didn’t even know was capable. Because yes, at 24, I really thought I had everything figured out for the rest of my adult future.

Not surprisingly, I was wrong.

I am walking around in living contradictions and I am finding myself constantly pulled in every which way. Graduation is in twelve days and I am trying so incredibly hard to be excited, but it also makes me emotional and frustrated and sad and it is just a whole roller coaster full of emotions.

Lately at work, I’ve been receiving a lot of emails from students that don’t really know me that well, addressed to “Mr.” or “Sir.” I have to do a double take around my office to make sure they are talking to me. I get the respect thing, but damn how old do they think I am?!

Meanwhile, I’ll go to my part-time job at Starbucks in the same day, and have all the old ladies come in and tell me how young I am. Or the other day, a middle-aged man came in and called me “bud.” …which immediately resulted in some major side eye, but that’s beside the point.

We are young. We feel old.
We are old. We feel young.

It’s this perpetual state of limbo…at least, for the next few years.

This sense was especially heightened this past weekend, going back to Geneseo for alumni weekend. Walking around campus, I felt like a creepy old man, and everyone around me looked like a child. Granted, even though I am only a (small) handful of years older than everyone else on campus, it feels like the life experiences I’ve had in the past three years have shot me straight into adulthood without ever wanting to look back.

Avenue Q sings about this phenomena perfectly: “But if I were to go back to college, think what a loser I’d be. I’d walk through the quad and think ‘oh my God…’ these kids are so much younger than me.”

And that’s exactly how I feel about everything lately. I feel like I’m too young to fall in love and get married and have kids, but I’m too old to be irresponsibly meeting all these random people for relationship-type things. I’m too young to be in constant career-mode, but I’m too old to ignore the impending jobless/homeless future after graduation.

So how are we expected to live ten years of our lives in this twentysomething limbo?

My best advice? Enjoy the present moment. I know, it’s easier said than done. But it’s true. I’ve heard so many people that just wish they could go back to college, or just be 19 again…but there are struggles that also come along with those times. And on the flip side, “I just want to be thirty, flirty, and thriving!” Sure, I totally understand that. But you could also end up thirty, dirty, and homeless. You just never know…so why hope for something that may or may not happen? Why not try to be twentysomething, flirty, and thriving? I know it’s not as catchy, and it doesn’t rhyme, but why wait to start your life? Your time is now. No more excuses.

I miss college because I miss having a group of friends. I miss college for the social aspect. I miss college because I was learning about so many cool things. I miss college because I was always meeting a bunch of cool new people.

Here’s the secret: I can still do all of those things, today, right now. There really is no point in wishing in what was, or in hoping for what is not. While we’re all in this twentysomething limbo, we might as well make something out of it, and enjoy it in the best way we know how.

On Fully Embracing Who You Are. AKA, Self-Love.

“Right now, can you make an unconditional relationship with yourself? Just at the height you are, the weight you are, with the intelligence you have, and with your current burden of pain. Can you enter in an unconditional relationship with that?”

This question, taken  from the video that’s buzzing around Facebook, was asked by Tracee Ellis Ross. And when I watched this video, I felt like she was talking directly to me…it hit my soul in a certain type of way. So now, I’m posing the question to you.

Can you be in an unconditional relationship with yourself?

I’ve been thinking about what this truly means. Thinking back, my grandmother was the first person to teach me about unconditional love. And no, not through example, even though, I know we both love each other unconditionally. I still remember her saying it out loud, clear as day, “Unconditional love is when you would do anything for the other person, no matter what. I would eat shit off your face if I had to because I love you so much.” I was maybe ten years old.

But okay, two things:

  1. When we talk about unconditional love, why does it have to be about someone else? and,
  2. No matter how much I love anyone, I don’t think I would eat poop off their face. But, that’s my gram for you.

Anyway.

I was talking with a good friend last night about a similar idea: living the single life. For anyone that follows this blog, you know that the love life in Buffalo has been, well, nonexistent. But another good friend gave me some good perspective. She said, “Michael, why would you even want to meet your person in Buffalo? You know you don’t want to stay here, so why even get wrapped up in something?”

Well, damn. She was completely right. I wouldn’t want to meet my person in Buffalo. At all. And I mean, things happen. If I did meet my person here, I wouldn’t resist it. But it gave me a new perspective on actively “searching for love.”

My Buffalo years have been my years. I’m just about to wrap up my second year, and there has been so much internal reflection and processing about who I am. And I really want to put an emphasis on the I. All my life I feel like I’ve taken on these external identities as my primary focus – son, brother, boyfriend, student, employee – but for the past few years, I’ve really had to pause and take another look at who I was, without any of those other labels. Stripped down at the core, who am I? Who are you?

Tracee Ellis Ross ends the video with this: “There’s a lot that happens on the path to growing up and you are exactly where you are supposed to be. And enjoy those spaces and those times, and really listen not just to what’s happening outside of you, but inside of you. Be who we are in a really full and beautiful way, and live these lives that we’re all living.”

It ties directly back to a goal I had set for myself this past year: Be who you are, unapologetically. Fully embrace your own life, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Because your path is your own, and you have to be happy on your own path. Otherwise, you’re just living a life for the sake of someone else.

I understand it’s easier said than done. If nothing else, maybe this post will just be a spot of inspiration, maybe to help jump start the process or begin to reflect in a new way. But at the end of the day, when it’s just you and yourself, who are you? What are some ways in which you live out your life, fully and unapologetically?

In Another Town

Who are you?

That was the question that was asked to me for my most recent job interview. “Make a 15 minute presentation that answers the question, ‘Who are you? Personally and professionally?'”

Well, damn. How do I answer that? I know who I am, or so I thought, but I think like many of us, I just get so wrapped up in the day to day life, that I often forget to sit and reflect on who I am as a person.

As many of you know, this past week I was doing a bit of travelling. I had an interview at NYU, but made a pit stop in Albany to visit some family. So within the past weekend, I was in New York, Albany, and now Buffalo. And it was bizarre. I felt as if I was living three separate, very different lives.

In New York, I felt like the person I wanted to be. I was dressed to the nines in my stylish new suit,  I was wearing my favorite pair of dress shoes, I was making my way up and downtown via subway and cab, and meeting so many incredible people. All in the span of one overnight trip.

In Albany, at home, I always find myself in this strange role. Does anyone else feel that way? Even though I’m 25 years old, and basically a full adult, I still find myself molding into my old high school self.

And then now, here I am…back in Buffalo, writing this blog post. Today is great – I’m surrounded by friends “doing work” [hey, friends], but in general, I’m not the most thrilled to be back. There are only a few months left, and I will definitely miss some people here, but especially after such an amazing trip to New York, I’m kind of just ready to be there.

But that got me thinking.

In general, I used to think that no matter what setting, I was just myself. The same Michael, regardless of the situation or the people I was around. But I’ve been realizing lately that I am different…not necessarily around different people, but definitely in other places.

At home, I’m happy. It’s good to be home. But my role is very different. In Buffalo, it’s cool…but it’s not the place for me, and my happiness level has plateaued here. And then, visiting a completely new city in hopes of potentially moving there, I realized I am a completely different person. I felt complete in a way. I had the time to be with really good friends that I missed a whole lot, while also feeling fulfilled in (hopefully) doing really well in the interview. I just felt that, for the first time, I was living the life that I wanted. This potential job would be amazing, having a consistent group of friends and social supports would also be great, and on top of it all, I was meeting so many new people that I would love to get to know even more.

In another town, I am the same person. In another town, I felt completely different.

“Maybe you just need a change of scenery,” some people have said. But I’m always torn by that. Do I really just need a change of scenery, or am I just running away from a life that I am not completely happy with, and haven’t necessarily put in the effort to make any better?

Who am I? That is a really great question. And through this visiting of other towns, I’ve learned a lot about myself, especially considering that this next step in particular will be choosing the next significant part of my life. I’ve learned that I am someone who needs social support in my life. AKA, friends. I can’t move to another new place where I don’t know anybody and hope for the best. I’ve learned that my next job is important, but it’s not the most important thing. And maybe most importantly, I’ve learned that no matter where I go, I am still myself.

So, regardless the all the other towns, who are you?

 

 

RE: For When You’re Spinning Out of Orbit

This has been such an interesting week. You know those weeks where you just feel like everything has been turned upside down, tossed around, shaken up…and then just when you think you’re starting to settle back down, you get thrown across the room? Yeah, that’s how this entire semester has felt so far. “The planets are misaligned” has been my excuse. Which, I must acknowledge, is a very passive stance, just sitting still and hoping they would hurry their ass up and realign so I can continue about my “normal” life.

But so many things have happened recently, good things. The snow in the snow globe is finally drifting back to a resting point. Maybe the planets are realigning themselves as we speak. But I must admit, for a while, it was a little turbulent. And three quotes in particular have stuck out to me during all this:

“It’s always darkest before the dawn.” –Shake It Out, Florence and the Machine
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” -Albus Dumbledore
“But still, like air, I’ll rise.” –Still I Rise, Maya Angelou

What do all of these quotes have in common? Well, basically, life will be dark at times, but there is always a light. There will always be an upswing. If you contribute positively to the universe, the universe will contribute positively to you.

To share some of my own “blah” from the past few weeks (and I’ll keep it short), things haven’t been great. Not THE WORST, but not the best either, you know? Spiritually, I’ve felt completed blocked. But I signed up for a tarot class this past week and as soon as I walked into the room, I felt so much lighter. Friend situations have been rough, but this week in particular, it seems like I’ve received a flood of love and support, which has been incredible. Much needed chats and catch ups, and friends just being good friends. And on an academic note, I have my comprehensive exams this weekend (aka, hello here’s a 20-page paper to write over the weekend: GO!). But even with that, I’ve been the most productive this weekend, having written most of it by Friday night, and still having time to go to the gym, watch Parenthood, and write for fun. It rocks.

The thing that strikes me as peculiar about all this is that the things that made me feel better during this misalignment were things that I didn’t really want to do in the first place. I was hesitant to take a tarot class because it costs money and it’s “weird.” And I love my friends, but sometimes we all get wrapped up in our separate lives. And then of course, no one “wants” to take the comp exams.

And yet, it’s these things that made me feel the light again. The dawn. The happiness. The rise. And maybe the message is this: sometimes, it’s the things that we don’t want to do the most that we get the most joy from. Does that even make sense? Like going to the gym, for example, or eating healthy. It’s not my favorite thing in the entire universe, but I definitely feel good afterwards. Or grad school. It’s hard AF sometimes, but I know I’m going to walk away a better person with a great education.

I guess I don’t really have any “steps” this week…no helpful “tips and tricks.” Maybe it’s more a tiny source of inspiration. If you are ever feeling like the planets aren’t aligning for you, maybe it’s just the darkness before the dawn. Maybe someone just needs to turn on the light. And like air, you too will rise.

A Shoutout to the 4 AM Friends

You know those days where you wish you could just hit the reset button? Well, this entire week has been like that. It was the first full week back to work with students, the first week of classes, and there was some personal drama. But the one positive thing that remained constant this week was the support: the friends that I know I can count on no matter what. So for that, I say thank you.

The challenging part about being a twentysomething (or honestly, just being an adult in general) is that all your friends are in faraway lands. Your biggest supports are hundreds of miles away. I’ve written about this before in my blogs, so again, no need to go into full complain mode, but Buffalo is just not the place for me socially. Most friends here just don’t click (or stick). And yet, because this week was such a doozy, that’s really what I needed the most.

I needed 4 AM friends. You know what I’m talking about, right? Those friends that no matter what time of the night it is, you can call them up on the phone and know that they will answer because they care about you, and vice versa. This week, I have reached out to a handful of my 4 AM friends, whether it was barging into their office at work, sending an email check in, writing a letter, texting long paragraphs, or picking up the phone and actually dialing.

Because of this, I wanted to send a massive thank you to all my 4 AM friends who were so especially awesome this week. Appreciation is something that is so necessary but oftentimes forgotten. So here are five (small, inexpensive) ways that you can reach out to show appreciation to your 4 AM friends, even if you didn’t necessarily need it this week:

  1. A spoken thank you
    • I was in staff meeting the other day, and during our meeting, someone turned to someone else and said, “I appreciate you.” The phrase stuck with me. Later in the week, when I was talking to someone, I wanted the other person to feel recognized and appreciated. “Thank you for listening, I appreciate you.” A small handful of words can be so meaningful.
  2. A thank you letter
    • As a writer, this option appeals to me. And I don’t mean a text message. I mean a real, genuine, hand-written thank you letter. Maybe that friend doesn’t even know how much they mean to you, and you expressing that could be the thing to brighten their day and bring your friendship closer together.
  3. A small gift 
    • I know all of our budgets are tight. Side note, my credit card company sent me my first ever notice the other day that I had almost reached my credit line. Yikes, talk about a mini heart attack. ANYWAY, a small gift. If you know they start their day every morning with a grande vanilla latte, send them a five dollar Starbucks gift card. Or maybe you find your favorite photo of the two of you, frame it, and send it to them as a reminder of how much their friendship means to you.
  4. Spend time together 
    • I know this is counter-intuitive to the part about your friends potentially being hundreds of miles away, but follow me for a minute. If your friends are physically around, get coffee. Grab lunch. Spend time together. If not, carve a chunk out of your day to make a phone call, to actually catch up with a person, as opposed to just saying it.
  5. Reciprocate
    • I always say that friendships are a give and take. Ideally, it’s 50-50. But sometimes, it needs to be 70-30. And that’s okay. As long as you make sure that when the other person needs to be at 70, you reciprocate and are also there to be their 4 AM friend. And don’t forget to ask “How are you?” when you are done…it shows you care about them as a friend and as a person, not just as a sounding board.

How else do you show appreciation to your 4 AM friends? Share your thoughts below!

Lessons Learned: On Love, Travels, and Food Poisoning

For those that don’t know, this past week I was gallivanting around Chicago for a conference and loving every minute of it. The conference, Creating Change, was absolutely amazing. It focused on LGBTQ advocacy and social justice, and I learned so much.

Among other tales from this past week, I saw the Bean, tried authentic deep dish pizza, fell in love for the weekend, and suffered a major bout of food poisoning. And as much as I would like to go on and on about any or all of those stories, that isn’t necessarily the point of this blog.

Out of all the sessions I went to, out of all the people I met, there is one lesson in particular that is still sticking with me, even after the love, the poisoning, and the flights back home. I was in a workshop, How to Create Non-Oppressive Spaces for Queer Students of Color. And in the workshop, the facilitator said this: “We can’t let our need to learn keep us from action.”

We can’t let our need to learn keep us from action.

This resonated with me in all types of ways. Mostly because, as a 24-year-old graduate student, I sometimes still doubt my knowledge and my ability to create change. I went into this conference thinking I had a whole lot to learn. I’m still in the beginning stages of advocacy work, social justice movements, and really understanding the bigger picture. But, I was surprised to walk into that conference and be able to share some knowledge that maybe other people didn’t necessarily have.

We can’t let our need to learn keep us from action.

We are all learning. We are life-long learners. At least, I hope we are. Regardless of whether or not we are in school, whatever level of formal education you have, there is always something to be learned in the world. This past week, I learned multiple things about LGBTQ advocacy, social justice issues, etc. So I’m here to report back. Now, granted, I know that not all of us work in Diversity Centers or in Higher Education, so I’m mindful of that, but these are some lessons that I learned or was reminded of during my time in Chicago.

  1. Embrace new adventures
    • I was PUMPED to go to Chicago! New foods, new people, and an amazing conference that I heard nothing but good things about. Take risks and embrace the adventures in your life – from the every day adventures in the coffee line to traveling to new cities.
  2. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction
    • “Eat whatever you want!” they say. “It’ll be good!” they say. Yes, until you are hugging the toilet bowl at 3am, 5am, and 6am after eating something that was clearly poisoned. Now, here’s the thing. What was the alternative? I couldn’t not eat. The new lesson here? Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, whether or not you know what that reaction will be. Oftentimes, the reaction is hard to predict.
  3. Expect the unexpected
    • Never in my life did I expect to meet anyone of substance at this conference. Hooking up, sure, maybe. Professional connections, definitely. But someone who can hold a conversation and is super cute and is nice to spend time with? Well, I didn’t expect that. And I feel like it’s only when you don’t expect it, that it happens.
  4. There is always something to learn
    • If people want to talk about diversity programming with university students, I’m your guy. Student development theory? Hit me up. But I also have so much to learn. At this conference, it was evident that while everyone had their own special and unique interest areas, we were all able to learn and grow from each other.
  5. Make coming home a positive experience
    • I was sitting in the airport, sleep-deprived, drained of all fluids, thinking of nothing but work and school starting back up tomorrow. But as soon as I saw my friend pulling up at the airport to pick me up, I knew that I was back home, and that was a good feeling. It was so good to see her, and I know it’ll be great to see work friends tomorrow, and to be in the classroom again. By viewing it as a positive, it’s making me feel less sad about leaving Chicago, and happier to be back in Buffalo.

The Ghosts of Twentysomething Past, Present, and Future

I feel like every single blog post for the past month has been about the new year. Well, why break the streak now? I hope you’re not tired of it, yet. Maybe by February I’ll think of a new topic…

But for this week, I have one final thought on 2016. At least, for right now. As the new year is well underway, I’ve been surprised by the number of times this year I’ve been visited by ghosts of my past. Skeletons in the closet, if you will. And most of these skeletons, surprisingly, have been from relationship-type situations. The worst. This week alone I responded to a four-month-old Facebook message from an ex, was laughed at by someone when I told him I only wanted to be friends,  and gave out my number to this cute guy at Starbucks.

Well, damn. That is a lot to happen in one week! Especially for me, someone who is chronically single, someone who uses the answer “nonexistent” when someone asks me about my love life. And yet, from these three experiences this week, I’ve learned something from each one. They’ve all signified something important about my relationships…the past, the present, and the future.

  1. The Ghost of Twentysomething Past
    • This is my favorite ghost. The Ghost of Twentysomething Past is the ghost that I have learned the most from. It’s also the ghost that can be the most painful, which is hard. And surprise, it never goes away. Ghosts of your past will always be a part of your life tapestry, no matter how many times you wash, rinse, and repeat. It’s up to you how you view it: a tarnished stain, or a beautiful new set of stitches. It reminds you of who you are and why you are here today. Maybe you aren’t with that person anymore, or you didn’t end on the best of terms, but there’s a reason for that. Looking in the past, it gives you the opportunity to reflect, learn, and grow. Hindsight really can be 20/20.
  2. The Ghost of Twentysomething Present
    • I find this ghost to be the most unexpected (yes, even more unexpected than the future). Here’s why: sometimes, the future is so far away that it’s not even worth making plans. The typical case of this is saying something like “I really want to wear a white bow tie on my wedding day!” when you’re still single AF. It’s hard to plan for the future if your present isn’t lined up first. So you go on a few dates, think it’s going really well, and then BAM. You meet someone else, something comes up, it’s not a good time. Whatever the reason. Which is why, in the Ghost of Twentysomething Present, it’s important to be as adaptable as possible. Things will always be happening. In the present, anything could happen at any moment, the script is still being written. Whereas the past is archived and the future is still blank. Life is a constant state of change, and you won’t feel it more than in any other moment but the present.
  3. The Ghost of Twentysomething Future
    • The ghost of excitement. New beginnings. Also, the ghost of anxiety, nervousness. Uncharted territory. The Ghost of Twentysomething Future leads to thirtysomethings, fortysomethings, and beyond. It leads to milestones. There are a whole bunch of stories from older thirtysomethings and fortysomethings saying that if they could give one piece of advice to current twentysomethings, it would be to prepare more for the future. That’s all fine and dandy, and I don’t necessarily disagree. But I also think it’s important to keep an open mind and not try to plan detail by detail. Be ready to embrace your future with open arms.

What’s most important in all of this, though, is that the past, present, and future are all a part of who we are, and help to tell our own individual story. It’s what makes us unique. It’s what makes us who we are. And for that, it is beautiful.

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.

Feeling Lost? A Twentysomething Guide.

For this week’s post, I was tempted to just come up with some creative title for this picture, post the picture, and then just leave it at that. A picture says a thousand words, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, the inner writer in me felt the need to explain more in depth. What does this picture mean? Why did it resonate with me in such a way? Why is it on a twentysomething blog? Maybe some of these questions are obvious, I’m not sure. If that’s the case, please ignore the rest of this post and just thank me for posting the picture.

Anyway. I came across this photo earlier this week, and I never felt I related to a picture more than the one above. First, you’re a baby, then you’re a small child…some time goes by…and then you triumphantly hold your diploma high in the air, Breakfast Club style, after graduating high school or college. For me, it was college. As soon as I graduated, this twentysomething dizziness started to kick in. Fast forward thirty years, and the person at the other end of the time line seems to be thriving. Running, even! They are so excited about their amazing life.

So what is that chaotic jumble of squiggles in the middle?

Well folks, that’s the twentysomethings. That’s what this blog is all about. And in addition to the jumble, the title also caught my attention. “Lost in Life?” YUP. I am. So for this post, I thought it might be helpful to write about three ways that I, as a lost twentysomething, have found myself to be a little less lost.

1. Find your passion

  • I know this sounds like a daunting task. But the challenge here is simple. Think of your life right now and what you do. Work, school, XYZ responsibility, etc. But if you didn’t have any of those responsibilities, if you didn’t have to go to work tomorrow, or didn’t have to take classes, what would you be doing? In other words, how are you going to spend your days when you retire? In my case, I know I’m going to be sitting in a Starbucks all day, writing. And right now, I work at Starbucks, and I’m writing this blog post…so hey, maybe I’m not doing so bad!

2. Find your center

  • Life is stressful. Life throws challenges your way. But when everything becomes too overwhelming and chaotic, what do you do? What do you do to find your balance? Your center? What brings you back to the core? For me, it’s those deep breath moments. When everything in life is getting to be a little too much, just take a deep breath and think what do I need to do right now? Take a walk, stretch into a few yoga poses, some more deep breaths, eat twenty pieces of chocolate. Anything! As long as it makes you feel more connected to yourself.

3. Find your purpose

  • This one is my most recent challenge, posed to me by a good friend. It’s the why. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why do you do what you do? It could apply to anything. Work, school, friends, anything. And if you don’t know the answer to that question, I would suggest some soul-searching, or consider trying something else. I had a tough time recently. My question was why do I want to work in Student Affairs? And after some good conversations with mentors and friends and some internal reflecting, I’ve found a partial purpose. Some days, I forget that purpose and want to do something completely different…and that’s okay too.

So, friends, the moral of the story is that life is hard. It will give you ups and downs. But don’t let it throw you off course. It’s easy to get lost. I’ve been lost the majority of my time as a twentysomething. But I don’t think that means I can’t keep working to find myself.