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.

 

 

25 Years in 25 Lessons

Hello, all! And welcome to my weekly blog post. As some of you may have known, I turned 25 a few weeks ago, and it’s been pretty great so far. My mom made this collage to share with the Facebook world on my birthday that I wanted to share with all of you…wasn’t I cute? Look at my little red overalls!

michael

Anyway…

I do feel “older.” The last day of 24 and the first day of 25 felt like a ginormous age shift. I’m not longer a “young twentysomething.” I’m one year closer to a “thirtysomething!” I need to slow down.

Birthdays are often a time of reflection for me. From one year to the next, how far have I grown? What have I accomplished? While New Year’s feels like too much of a cliche to reflect in that way, my birthday feels uniquely special to me. And this year, with the whole having-a-blog thing, I wanted to reflect here. Twenty-five lessons I’ve learned in my 25 years.

  1. It’s okay to love yourself. In fact, I would strongly encourage it.
  2. Ramen is not a proper substitute for a meal.
  3. Other people’s opinions of you really don’t matter. Really. Your own opinion of yourself is more important.
  4. Growth only occurs under constant and consistent supports. Know your support systems.
  5. Heartbreak is temporary, but the lessons you take away are lifelong.
  6. Love does win.
  7. Jumping on the bed won’t hurt anybody (unless you fall off or twist your ankle).
  8. Your body will thank you for eating your yucky green vegetables.
  9. Karma can be a jerk or a blessing. It all depends on what you put into the Universe and how you treat others.
  10. All feelings are valid, but you need logical examples to support your claims.
  11. Parents can be equal parts annoying and loving, but in the end, they will always be there to love and support you.
  12. Friends are just as important as family.
  13. Be intentional in your work, your relationships, and your purpose.
  14. The biggest sign of positive growth is resistance. Don’t give up.
  15. It’s okay to give up.
  16. Failure isn’t the experience to fear.
  17. Every experience is either a positive experience, or a personal growth opportunity.
  18. There is no “right” way to live your life.
  19. Your life is defined by you.
  20. “Hold your friends close, and enemies closer” is garbage. Hold your friends as tight as possible, and let go of any negative energy in your life.
  21. Grown-up birthdays aren’t always celebrated on your day of birth. It doesn’t mean people love you any less.
  22. Look for opportunities, and take them.
  23. Take a risk in taking risks.
  24. Move forward, while also looking back (yes, it’s possible).
  25. It’s all going to be okay. I promise.

 

 

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!

2015: A Year in Review

Well hello everyone, and Happy New Year to you all! Last week, I wrote a blog post about preparing for the new year. With all the hype, I didn’t have much of a chance to reflect on this past year, especially in regards to my blog. Luckily, WordPress created an annual report for me!

Looking back at my blog this year, I wrote 49 blog posts (one for every week since I started blogging) with more than 5,000 views in 27 different countries. For a guy who just decided one day to start writing a random blog about the twentysomething experience, THIS IS SO COOL! So, what better way to reflect back on this past year of blogging than with a recap of my top favorite posts? Reading back, these were the top 25 lessons I learned and wrote about in 2015.

  1. Try something new.
  2. Do something you love, regardless of what anyone else says.
  3. Embrace change.
  4. Celebrate life.
  5. Home is not a concrete term. It doesn’t signify a building or a town, and it’s possible that the idea of “home” will change over time.
  6. You are a person, outside of work.
  7. So much can change in one year.
  8. Life is a roller coaster. What goes up, must come down. And just when you think the ride is over, that’s when you need to hang on the tightest.
  9. Treat Yo Self! (special cred. to Parks & Rec).
  10. Your future self will thank your twentysomething self if you work out, eat healthy, and take care of your body.
  11. It’s unlikely to know everything about yourself. The important thing is to be aware and reflect on who you are.
  12. Holidays as a twentysomething are completely different
  13. You can always change your mind…in everything. Career, friends, Friday night plans. It’s okay to change your mind.
  14. Find meaning in everything.
  15. You can only “grin and bear it” for so long.
  16. Splitting yourself into multiple identities and personalities won’t do anyone any good, especially yourself. Instead, work on congruence: blending all of your selves into one.
  17. Everything in moderation
  18. Ride the wave. If you try and fight it…you’re going to get pushed down.
  19. Money is important, but so are fun times with friends.
  20. Move forward, but don’t forget to look back.
  21. Find a mentor (or multiple mentors).
  22. There is no “right” way into adulthood.
  23. Your passions are the things that keep you awake at night. Follow these things.
  24. Break the awkward twentysomething silence. Believe me, no matter how absurd or embarrassing, you are not alone.
  25. We live, we learn, and we grow.

And with that, from one twentysomething to another, I hope you’ve all had a wonderful start to the new year. With these lessons in mind, I promise there will be plenty more twentysomething posts to come!

And on a related side note, I have some big things coming your way for Twentysomething Months! Make sure to stay on the lookout, and I’ll keep you all posted! 🙂

With blog love and New Year’s magic,
Michael

“The Grass is Always Greener” by Some Other Me

For anyone that knows me, you know that I am obsessed with musicals. Usually ones I’ve seen. Except this time, If/Then has been playing nonstop on my phone, and I have never seen it. There is this one song in particular, “Some Other Me,” that is just so beautiful. But because I’ve never seen the show, I really have no idea what the character is talking about. Basically, there are multiple paths the character can take in life (like most of us). In this song, she sings about all the other selves she could have been: “Some other me is homeless / some other me is queen / some other me has seen things that no other me has seen.”

Okay, so we got it? It’s beautiful and poetic and everything good.

Elizabeth, the character, is thirty nine years old and sings about all the change happening in her life, which, directly parallels to my experience as a twentysomething. Change, change, dramatic transition, more change, etc. Hearing her sing about it as a 39-year-old makes me depressed about my future…will it always be this way?!! Let’s hope not.

Lately, I’ve been feeling very much in a crossroads. May is ringing close with bells of graduation and I have no freaking idea what I want to do with my life.

During my first year of college, I had a friend say to me once, “I can either see myself living in Manhattan with a high-class job and going to see Broadway shows every week or living in a country in the developing world, volunteering and serving others, with no material possessions whatsoever.”

My response? You’re an idiot. That doesn’t even make sense.

OKAY. Well, it makes sense to me now. So, I apologize about my harsh judgement from six years ago.

It makes sense because I think to all of us, there is “some other me.” Right now, I’m working in higher education and I work with college students and I’m a grad student. But some other me is working full-time at Starbucks in New York City and playing guitar on a street corner and endlessly working to try and publish the latest draft of my book. Some other me is living in Europe, going to the fresh open markets every week, walking through the city districts in my tailored suit to get to my office on time. Some other me is happy in all areas of my life.

And despite all those grown-ass adults telling me “it’s completely normal to hate your job,” I refuse to believe it. I absolutely refuse to believe it until I am an old withered man who has to drag myself to and from an office every day. Disclaimer, I don’t hate my job. I just think there might be a better fit for me out there in the world somewhere. People who think it’s “normal” to “hate their job” are people who have settled, and I won’t give up hope.

It’s easy to focus on the negative aspects of life, but I like to think that I am an optimistic person and try to stay as positive as possible. However, is it so wrong to think that some other me might not have to try so hard to find those positive aspects of my life?

Maybe the grass really is greener. Or maybe it’s dry dirt painted in a vibrant shade of life. Either way, there’s something to be said about trying and finding out for yourself…isn’t there?

How to Overcome Your Greatest Obstacle (…in just three easy steps!)

It sounds like an infomercial. “How to overcome your greatest obstacle and change your life forever…for only three easy payments of $39.95! That’s right, folks, just three easy payments of $39.95! It’s simple and it’s fast, with only three easy steps to guarantee your success!”

Well listen up everyone, because this advice is free. Worthy of three easy payments? I’d like to think so. I’m also not an expert (though I doubt the infomercial hosts are experts on their product either…) and I’m also not being paid to sell you a product or to write this blog post (although, if you know of anyone hiring a blogger, let me know).

I’ve come to a realization this past week, which is something I’ve heard and thought about before, but something that I had never personally felt. My realization was this: I am my own greatest obstacle.

Well, shit.

Just think about that for a minute. Michael, you want to have a young, fun twentysomething life? You want to do something meaningful with your life? You want to make more friends and be closer to family? Well then what’s stopping you??”

Me. I have been stopping myself from achieving any of these things, and that is a terrifying and empowering statement. How can one person, me, be the cause of such a large blocking point to my own happiness, while also being the same person that could propel it forward? I realized that I just needed to allow myself to do so.

However, this is not everyone’s greatest obstacle. Some people actually allow themselves to enjoy the things in life that they want to enjoy. So, with that said, here are “three easy steps” to overcoming your greatest obstacle.

  1. Identify Your Obstacle
    1. I am twenty four years old, and I’ve spent the last two years complaining about why I don’t have as many friends as I want, about how I feel like an old man, about how I’m not a “fun” person anymore. AKA, since I graduated, life hasn’t been what it used to be, and I hate that I feel that way. But after all that, I just realized what my true obstacle is…me. This is called the brainstorming part of this process. Or, the WHY. Why wasn’t I making as many new friends as I wanted? Why did I feel like such an old man, and why didn’t I like that? I was a walking contradiction. I wanted to have young, twentysomething fun, get drunk with friends until 4am at the bars, but when anyone ever invited me and it was past ten o’clock, I’d say no thank you, it was past my bedtime. And it’s not all or nothing. Some nights, I know that I will want my alone time to write and read and be asleep by 11. Other nights though, I need to prepare to get my dancing shoes on and just have a good time.
  2. Get Ready to Fly (and Fall)
    1. Okay, so life is full of ups and downs. It’s full of ifs. There are forwards and backwards. Jumps and falls. Gives and takes. It’s a jumble. I’ve acknowledged myself as my own greatest obstacle, which feels like a huge advancement towards my own personal well-being. I’ve figured it out! I’ve cracked the code! But after flying for a little bit on that piece of knowledge, I realized that identifying my obstacle was only the first step. In fact, it made me feel a little bit more behind because now I see how far I need to go. My advice is not to get discouraged. It’s a journey, right? So embrace the journey. The end point isn’t the goal. Working towards it can be a rewarding experience, you just have to prepare yourself.
  3. Jump Right In
    1. Don’t hesitate. Get started. Jump right in. Why wait? Last night, I was sitting around my apartment, bored and alone on a Saturday night. I thought about writing, I thought about reading, I thought about going to bed at 9:07pm…but I didn’t want to do any of those things. So, I texted a new friend from Starbucks and asked if he wanted to hang out. I took a risk. And sure enough, he did! And I had a really, really nice time. And if he said no? No big deal, maybe that would be part of the “flying/falling” experience. For me, I know that I tend to make excuses. For example, I usually don’t want to go out with crowds of other twentysomethings because I’m better in a one on one setting and I feel like I tend to better connect with forty year olds. But I know now that I need to forget about those excuses and just jump right in and do it. What better time to start now, with 100% of your head and your heart?

With all that said, I’m curious…what is your greatest obstacle? How do you plan to overcome it?