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

New Year’s Prep: Saying Goodbye to “New Year, New Me” and Hello to Reality

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!

It’s an exciting time in the world as the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, presents are unwrapped, and the new year is just around the corner. Christmas was beautiful here, and I hope whatever holiday you choose to celebrate was spent in good company with good food, creating many new memories.

But memories aren’t the only new thing coming up…with the year ending in four days, 2016 is knocking on our doors, begging to be let inside. And if you think I was feeling some type of way about Christmas, New Year’s is a whole other story.

There is a sense of hope in the air around this time of year. “NEW YEAR, NEW ME!” people scream. If I hear that one more time, so help me…

newyear

newyear1

You get the point, right?

The reason I’m not a fan of “New Year, New Me,” is the exact reason that is stated in the Leonardo DiCaprio meme. What does a little ball dropping in New York City have to do with who I am as a person? The clock striking midnight has no impact on my own self and who I am. And time is a relative concept, anyway.

So for this New Year, I’m going to try a few new things:

  1. Set Goals
    • Throw out the idea of “New Year’s Resolutions.” And don’t ask me what mine are because I won’t have any. The word “resolution” evolves from the word “resolve” which means to solve. Therefore, a resolution aims to fix (or solve) a problem in your life. I’m going to the gym because I’m too fat. I’m going to spend more time with my family because I am distant and disconnected. No. Instead, try setting goals. SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive. The difference is that resolutions look to resolve an issue, whereas goals look to focus on areas of improvement and growth. Resolutions are based in thought, whereas goals are based in actions and positive change.
  2. Reflect and Reevaluate 
    • Margaret J. Wheatley said, “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” I have no idea who Margaret J. Wheatley is, but damn, if she wasn’t talking about New Year’s, she could have fooled me. The whole point of a New Year’s resolution is to achieve something that may or may not have been achieved before in your life. Yet, before setting our goals this year, reflection is a key first step. Without it, it’s impossible to know what comes next. Reflection can take many different forms. For my fellow introverts, sometimes all you need is a quiet space and a blank journal. For others, reflection can be with a group of people sitting in a noisy coffee shop, chatting about previous life experiences and hopes for the future. There’s no one right way to reflect.
  3. Let the past guide your future
    • I saw a really good friend of mine over this break, and one of the first questions she asked me after I ranted and raved about my current life was this: “If your 10- or 15-year-old self saw you now, would they be happy?” Well, wow. That one caught me. On SO many different levels. But I think it’s a good indication of how we might want the new year to look. I think my 10-year-old social self would’ve wanted more of a social scene, so that is something I would like to focus more on in 2016. The past can also guide your future in terms of life experiences. I know some things happened in 2015 that I will try my best to avoid in 2016. Some call those things mistakes, others like myself call them learning opportunities.

And with all that said, no matter how you choose to celebrate the new year (I’ll be in Brooklyn with some great friends!!!), I hope everyone has a very happy, healthy, and safe New Year!!!

 

 

Less than 100%

Today was a really good, healthy day. Regardless of the fact that I woke up slightly hungover, that’s neither here nor there. What are Sunday mornings for, anyway?

For the first time in a long time, I was able to wake up and enjoy a quiet, relaxing morning. I brewed a fresh cup of coffee, cooked a hearty breakfast, and watched Christmas with the Kranks on Netflix. It was beautiful. Afterwards, I got myself up from the couch and decided that for basically the first time this semester I would go to the gym. It was great! I felt healthy, energized, and a part of society. I talked to my dad on the phone on my way back, and then left for a coffee date that proceeded to last over three hours.

And now, here I am—doing another thing I love, writing, and eating a delicious home-cooked meal (which definitely wins over chips and salsa, the theme of my dinners for the past week).

It’s all about the little things, right?

Here’s what I’ve learned this week, thanks to a new friend who already has a very special and warm place in my heart: It is unfair to expect 100% life satisfaction from only one part of your life.

Let me say it again. It is unfair to expect 100% life satisfaction from only one part of your life.

I’m going to use my job as an example, because I feel like that’s the most relevant. If you’ve been following my blog at all over the past few months, you may think that I don’t love my job very much. “It doesn’t feel as meaningful as I wanted” or “It’s not the right one for me.” Well folks, I am here to tell you that those previous statements are 100% not true. The truth behind those statements, and something I might have been too afraid to admit before, is this: It’s not that I wasn’t 100% satisfied with my job, it’s that I wasn’t 100% satisfied with my life.

Looking at my job by itself, I absolutely love it! I get to work with amazing students in such a supportive environment in an office that is consistently moving forward. But why then, I asked myself, was I expecting to find 100% fulfillment of myself only in my job? That’s not a fair expectation. I can’t (and shouldn’t) expect my job to fulfill me in every possible way, because if it did, that would show a complete lack of work/life balance.

Maybe in my life, work is only 30% of my life satisfaction. Whereas friends and family might constitute 50%. And the remaining 20% are the little introvert things that I enjoy: writing in a coffee shop, cooking with a glass of wine, etc.

And if that means I am 100% completely satisfied in my job, in relationships with my friends and family, and in the use of my personal time, than I am 100% satisfied with life. It doesn’t make sense to expect that my job will fulfill me 100% when it only accounts for 30% of my life satisfaction.

And in an ideal world, the important top-priority areas of your life would be top-notch. That way, you would always be at 100%. But we all know that’s not the case. Sometimes, you might have a little confrontation with a friend, making your 50% only 48%. Or maybe there’s a boring task at work, knocking that satisfaction down a few notches.

But if we’re not at 100%, but still maybe at a 97% or even let’s say 82%, that’s still not bad. We may start to feel in the 50s and 60s on some days, but hopefully, those are just the exceptions.

In thinking about life satisfaction, it’s a lesson that’s been told time and time again, it’s just a matter of listening. Don’t place all your eggs in one basket. You can’t (and shouldn’t) be 100% satisfied in just one area of your life. Ask yourself, how else can I be fulfilled?

And at the end of the day, maybe it’s better to not always have 100%, anyway. That way, there is always space to improve, move forward, and grow.

 

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?

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 a pathway, for some, sure. But for me, I have twentysomething other ways that make me feel “adult.”

Twentysomething Summers

Summertime and the livin’ is easyyyyy.

And let me tell you, my summertime livin’ sure is easy. I can get enough of it! As a twentysomething, I think this is the only time in my life when I can truly appreciate a full summer to myself. Yes, I do have to work, but that makes me appreciate summer livin’ that much more.

During the year, I’m bogged down with a chaotic work schedule during the day and night classes in the evenings. By the time the weekend rolls around, I’m either too exhausted to do anything or am catching up on sleep that I barely got during the week. And because of all that, I can truly appreciate the breezy life of a summertime twentysomething.

It’s ironic that I’m writing this now, considering the harsh rainy storm happening outside my window. I think it’s a metaphor. Not every day is going to be summer livin’, especially in your twenties, but I digress.

Today, I had absolutely no plans. And yet, I felt so productive! I slept in, I finished a great book, started a new book, did laundry, cooked meals for the week, went grocery shopping, and even had time to practice a little piano! Why? Because it’s summertime, baby, and the livin’ is easy.

I think society misunderstands the idea of a summer ideal for people of all ages. Sure, summer lifestyles may be relatively easier for everyone, but this post is more about why a twentysomething summer is, without a doubt, the best.

As a college student, my summers were spent one of three ways:

  1. Summer classes or summer research (which is no fun for anyone),
  2. Working a minimum wage job in order to pay off all the ice creams I knew I would consume, or
  3. Doing nothing, spending the summer at home with my parents, screaming for something to do after two weeks of nothingness.

None of these options allowed me to live life to the fullest. And though I haven’t lived the next decade of my life yet, I can’t imagine a thirtysomething summer being as great. Hopefully I’ll have a family by then, but I’ll be older, with even more responsibilities. And it won’t be about my summer livin’, but about my children’s. Which—don’t get me wrong—will be great, but not necessarily my summer.

So what’s different about having a twentysomething summer?

It’s yours. 100%. Not your parents, not your school’s, not your family’s. Yours.

Yes, I still have to work. But that is part of being an adult. Having to work all day makes me appreciate the lack of responsibility I have after work. I can read for fun, I can play piano, I can write, I can watch TV, I can hang out with my friends…or I can just sit in silence for once and be pleasantly content with that.

I think all of this came from a new-found revelation, the opposite of “Act your age, not your shoe size.” Maybe “Act your age, not your parents’ age.” Lately, I’ve been feeling like a fifty year old man, and I hate that. What does that mean for me? It means sitting home alone every night of the week. It means being excited about trying a new vegetable. It means not connecting with new people. It means being tired all the time.

And here’s the funny part: I’m not actually a fifty year old man!! Really though, you may be thinking how obvious. But it took me a long, long time to actually realize that I am indeed still a young twentysomething. I think the full-time job and rent-payments threw me off for a little bit.

I don’t mean to imply that sitting alone with a great cup of coffee and a great book is only for our elderly friends. As a twentysomething, cafes are my favorite place in the world (not the bar scene, and that’s fine). The point is, summertime livin’ is allowing me to even further explore and develop who I am and what I like to do. The year before this, I was in a small-ass rural town, and I convinced myself that sitting home alone was what I liked to do because in all honesty, there wasn’t really a second choice.

But now! I’m in a new city. A big one! With so many people around. Why not take advantage of it? I’m going to go out. Meet new people. Maybe I’ll actually go to that party someone invited me to. Or go to a karaoke night even though (I thought) karaoke was not my thing. Why not?! I’m still going to read and sit alone in Starbucks, but I think I’m just going to be a little more twentysomething about it.

What are everyone else’s twentysomething summertime plans?

Avoiding the Brain Blame

Well, wow. A whole lot has happened since my last blog post. I’m not even sure where to begin. I’ve debated my choice of career, thought about switching my life path, reflected on love and relationships, got a job at Starbucks for the summer (!!), did some laundry, downloaded Dogfight the Musical soundtrack to my phone, decided to cut carbs from my diet, and even got a haircut. PHEW. I am exhausted just typing that all out. All in the week of an average twentysomething…am I right?

I thought I’d start with a brief anecdote. The other day, as I was lying on my bed, I opened my Tinder app (God help me) for nothing other than boredom, hoping to maybe see someone cute and start a conversation. Within a few minutes, I was matched with a 19 year old. Not that bad, right? Only five years difference. He was definitely cute and seemed intelligent (from the one photo I could see of him reading a book by some park). Great. Until I remembered that my sister is now 18, and that this cute mysterious Tinder boy was closer in age to my baby sister than he was to me.

With that in mind, I started thinking about how old I really was, almost a quarter of a century. And then a random statistic from my Psych 101 class popped into my head: the human brain is not fully developed until at least 25 years of age. How I interpret that: all of life’s mistakes before the age of 25 can be somewhat forgiven because the brain isn’t fully developed. Before the age of 25 if you drank too much, no problem. Promiscuous behavior? It’s part of the experience. Also, the fact that I just used the phrase “promiscuous behavior” shows that I am too freaking old to even be thinking about blaming anything on my undeveloped brain.

The point is this. As a mature 24 year old, I feel like my brain must be fully developed by now. Granted, that doesn’t mean I will ever be fully developed as a person, because growth and change is a good thing for anyone, regardless of the age.

So why does this matter? Because as a twentysomething with a fully developed brain, I can’t be blaming things on my age anymore. I’m not “too young.” And by now, I actually do know better. This afternoon, I went to Michael’s to inquire about custom framing for a piece of art work I recently purchased. Any more steps in that direction and I’ll be begging for prune juice and denture cream.

So, I’ve done a lot of reflecting lately. Am I in the right career path? Am I doing what I truly love to do? The life I live…is it the one I want? Do I want a husband and kids like I always thought I did? Am I happy with who I am at the very core of my existence? I’m not sure. To any of those questions. And if I answer anything but “yes” to any of those questions, I have to be honest, it scares the shit out of me. Because I’ve always prescribed to this one idea of what my life would be, what I wanted my life to be. And now, just as my brain is supposed to be fully developed, I’m having all these second thoughts. THANKS A LOT, BRAIN!

But I have one piece of advice…the reason I wanted to write this post specifically: it’s okay.

It’s okay!

It will all be okay.

Life may not be exactly what I thought at this moment, but everything happens for a reason. I truly believe that. For example, last night I unintentionally fell asleep with gum in my mouth (at 8:30pm, mind you). Long story short, I woke up an hour later with gum plastered all over my comforter. It happened because I have really been meaning to wash that comforter for weeks…and I just never got around to it, until I had no other choice.

Things might not be how you imagine, but there’s always at least two sides to every situation. The thing I’m still struggling with is not necessarily adapting to life when it doesn’t go as planned, but realizing that the life you worked so hard to plan isn’t necessarily the one you wanted. And that’s okay too. Because, as one of my mentors always says, “You can always change your mind.”

And she’s right.

The Twentysomething Roller Coaster

Hello people!

I am here this week for two very specific reasons:

  1. To write my weekly blog post, for without it, I don’t believe I would be able to maintain my sanity, and
  2. To follow up on last week’s blog post, which received the biggest disparity in comments yet.

In summary, last week’s post may have been a little melancholy, if you will, but I certainly didn’t mean for it to be an external request for any type of pity. I was simply expressing how I felt at that time. And how could you blame me, with this looking like my Easter Sunday?blog3
It’s okay though. I finished that paper, and in the constant struggle of grad school, I feel like I accomplished something. But as soon as I posted last week’s post, a multitude of reactions occurred:

  1. Friends started commenting, “This is so relatable!” …which I absolutely love because it makes me feel less insane.
  2. My mom sent me a Facebook message: “Honey, is everything okay? You have me in tears over here!” Yes mom, thank you for your concern, and
  3. I received a phone call from one of my best friends from college, as a check-in, not only about the post but about life in general.

I went to bed that night feeling much better, simply because of the reactions from a few hundred words on my page (so thank you to all of you readers). But it didn’t stop there. The next day, the encouragements continued to flow:

  1. First thing in the morning, a friend from work came into my office with a little metal Easter pail full of hand-dyed Easter eggs. I was in tears…such a thoughtful gesture.
  2. Later that afternoon, I came back to my office to find a bag of Lindt chocolate eggs on my desk with a little note from a student I work with. It said, “Not dyed Easter eggs, but chocolate eggs are close enough right?” YES! Yes they are.
  3. AND THEN fast forward to Friday, when I received a package in the mail from the same friend who called me last Sunday, filled with plastic shreds of green Easter grass, Easter candy, and a handwritten note.blog2blog4blog

The message here, people, is that love is all around. I just didn’t realize it. However, that certainly doesn’t undermine how lousy I was feeling last week, sitting on the floor of my apartment writing papers while everyone else seemed to be enjoying Easter hams and laughs with family and friends.

People say that life is a game. I see that. I’m going to alter the metaphor a bit and say life is an amusement part. And let me tell you, being a twentysomething is one hell of a roller coaster. There are constantly ups and downs, leaps forward and then miles backward. And after it’s all said and done, it feels like your stomach has been ripped from your body and you want to throw up everywhere. Yup, I’d say that pretty accurately describes this twentysomething life. Hopefully, as we progress into older stages of the amusement park life, we can enter more calm rides, such as the Ferris Wheel. Or the Merry-Go-Round. Yes, that would be wonderful.

But until then, here are some tips to riding that Twentysomething Roller Coaster:

1. Know Yourself
What causes your ups? Your downs? Being aware of this is the first step in losing the barf bag. For me, I know family and friends are my Ups. When grad school and work start to become too overwhelming, I can feel the Downs. Being self-aware is one of the best ways to be ahead of the game. You can prepare ahead. Playing piano is another Up of mine, so I know that if I’ve been sloping down for too long, heading to a piano room to practice is just what I need to be on the fast track back Up.

2. Going Backwards is Okay
It’s part of the journey. Sometimes, you have to go backwards in order to move forwards again. You may have to hit rock bottom (more than once), but then, there’s only one way to go from there, and that’s up. Those rides backwards are frustrating, and it sucks, but they are necessary. It makes you appreciate the better times, the times where you feel Up, the times where you don’t want to vomit everywhere. Reflecting back on the Downs, or the Backwards Times, I can now see that it was better that way in the long run, even though I wanted to jump off the roller coaster more than once during those times. It’s okay. Things will come back around.

3. Embrace It
There will be ups. And there will be downs. Accept it. Find a way that works for you. Make the ride your own. Going Down might be inevitable (so many things are out of our control), but why not live it on your own terms? We can anticipate life like a real roller coaster. The anticipation of climbing uphill, slowly and slowly with each tick of the metal on the track, for nothing else but to come whooshing down and curving around a sharp bend. Look forward. Know that there will be downs, but that eventually, things will come back to equilibrium.

4. Enjoy the Ride
You only get one. One ticket for admission: it can either be a general ticket or the best ticket in the park. My grandmother recently celebrated her eightieth birthday, and she has had one long ride. Ups and Downs for eighty years. She’s lived through a lot of twists and turns but I know that she is a stronger person for it. And we will be too…stronger people. So my last piece of advice for this roller coaster would be to buckle up, hold and tight, and live life to the fullest.

One Year Ago

Recently, I have been doing a lot of reflecting. It seems there has been a lot of conversation lately about “the future,” and yet, it’s making me think of nothing but the past. My friends are talking about graduation, classmates are looking to schedule classes for next semester, coworkers are applying to summer internships…it’s too much too soon. Earlier this week, someone dibbed me as emotional in relation to graduation. The Emotional One. Michael gets emotional.

Yes. That is true. But I’M GOING TO MISS EVERYONE. There’s no harm in that, right? I think it’s a good thing. “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Winnie the Pooh said that. I love that bear.

And yet, despite all the “future talk,” I find that I am reflecting a lot on the past. At my job, we are currently interviewing for new Graduate Assistants in our office. One year ago, I was in that exact same place as these incoming students. Now, I’m on the other side of the table with a full-time job and working towards my master’s degree. It’s an interesting feeling. With that said, I wanted to take some time to reflect on how much life can change in the course of one year.

One year ago:

  • I was working a job that I loved, in a place that I hated
  • I had more fingers than friends
  • I had been accepted into graduate school, but was not a student at the time
  • I was applying for Graduate Assistantships
  • I did not know anyone at my current university
  • I was in a committed, long-distance relationship that I thought would last forever
  • I was not as happy as I knew I wanted to be

Since then:

  • I entered graduate school and am working towards my master’s degree
  • I accepted a full-time position that I absolutely love
  • I haven’t made a lot of friends, but the ones that I have made are Forever Friends
  • I’ve found a family away from home in my friends, coworkers, and community
  • I’ve struggled in relating to my biological family, but have found a compromise that I have come to accept and love
  • My committed, long-distance relationship has ended, and I’m okay with that
  • I have grown

It’s amazing how much can change in one year. And I realize that I am fortunate. I am one of the lucky ones. A young twentysomething out of my parents’ house and doing something that I truly love. I know it’s challenging out there for some of my twentysomething friends. They hate their jobs, they are stuck in programs that they aren’t enjoying…life isn’t always smooth. And I am certainly not implying that mine is 100% care-free right now…there are definitely bumpy times. But just one year ago, I was in such a different place.

And I’m curious…where was everyone else one year ago? I feel like as a twentysomething, we go through so many different phases of life. Once every year, every other year, etc. After this, our time is categorized by decades. Thirties, forties, fifties. But now, there is no specific categorization of our time.

Some years might be better than others. But we live, we learn, and we grow.