Be where you are: the Truth about growing up

January 13, 2016 LifeThoughts  5 comments

I used to have big dreams for my life. 

If you were to ask my sixteen-year-old self what my life would look like, she could take you by the hand and tell you exactly what would happen next.
She’d tell you: 
I’m going to graduate from high school.
Attend Columbia College in Chicago and major in Journalism.
Write and edit for the school newspaper.
Get a job working as journalist (details were vague in my head, but I imagined myself running around the city with a messenger bag and a notebook). 
Cover breaking news, heart-wrenching important stories about the suffering and exploit of people around the globe. 
Travel a lot. 
Have a cool apartment. 
And that was about the extent of it. But all I knew was that I was going to be somebody. I was going to do important things. Give voice to the voiceless.

I wasn’t going to be held down by the monotonous, mundane tasks and trivialities I saw most of the adults in my life struggling with: merely living from day to day, slogging through life, attending to laundry and dinner and email and such, living for those moments on the weekends or after work. 

I was going to be so much more. Live a life without limits. 

But then, I grew up (well kind of–as much as I actively try to avoid that whole business). 

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And I realized that, the truth is: life isn’t what you thought it’d turn out to be. 
And sometimes, that can be extremely disappointing or a good thing. A really good thing. 
Or perhaps, a little bit of both.

Because when you’re sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, twenty, heck, sometimes even thirty or forty, you have no idea who you are. Let alone what you want to do with your life.
(And why do you have to ‘do’ anything? More on that later.)
*If you happen to be one of those people that do know from birth what you want to do, who you are–bravo. You do you, bro. Do your thang. 

That life outlined above, sounds like a nightmare to me now. That is not what I want at all. (And for the record, I only ended up crossing three of those things off my list. And Chicago, is effing freezing.)

You also realize, there’s a reason why the majority of people around you are doing the same things: because there is shit you just gotta take care of. There’s no getting around paying bills and doing your taxes and buying your own damn groceries because Mom isn’t there to stock your fridge for you anymore. 

You realize that life isn’t this idealized version you made it out to be. Most of the time, it’s sticky and messy and does not care to follow any of your preconceived notions of what you thought it would be like. 

You find that even with a Master’s degree you’re struggling to pay off your student loan debt, living with three roommates, and driving a Ford Focus (not that Jeep Cherokee you’d been envisioning all this time). 

You find that hey, maybe school wasn’t worth it. That maybe going into a trade works a lot better in the real world after all. 

You find yourself dragging yourself to your cubicle everyday because it is what you’re “supposed” to do, it looks really good, sounds really good on paper, but is actually sucking the very soul out of you email by email. That maybe, if you let yourself get real crazy, you think you’d rather…
go work as a barista so you can have the energy outside of work to pursue your art,
or start your own company,
or sell all your things and travel around the world, working odd jobs as you go.  

Or maybe you find that the career you’d been chasing for the past ten years, climbing that ladder to the corner office, doesn’t feel quite as good and fulfilling as everyone promised it would. 

And if you find that you still want the same thing(s) you always have–it’s just taking longer than you’d thought to get there… that’s okay too. Relax and enjoy the process. Because you probably don’t have much else of a choice at this point. So you mind as well learn and grow, and get better. But if you find that maybe you’re miserable–than maybe you don’t want that thing after all. It’s a bit simplistic, but I’m of the mind that if you don’t enjoy the process, you probably won’t enjoy the destination. (There are exceptions, of course. You might love the field you’re in, just not the place. And if that’s the case, make that place just be a temporary placeholder till a better fit comes your way.)

You find that things are a lot harder than you’d ever thought they could be. That everything takes more time than you thought it would. That everything costs more than you budgeted for.

You realize that maybe this person you thought you’d be by now is nowhere to be seen. 

But maybe, you’re left with someone even better. Someone who has been refined by the fire, who’s learned and grown and stretched beyond what you thought you could endure. 

That maybe there is some contentment and happiness and honor to be found in not being an important person. In living your small, quiet life right where you are at. Whatever that looks like to you. 

So, if you’re one of those people who finds themselves looking around and asking, “How in the holy hell did I get here?”
Forget that story of who you told yourself you were going to be.
There’s no use in holding on to a fallacy that never existed in the first place
Let that shit go. Let go of all those old, tired expectations. They’re doing nothing but dragging you under.
And try something new. Try writing a new story, the one you’re living now. One that allows for adjustment. 

Just know, it’s okay to re-route. Follow some detours. Do some exploration. 
It’s okay to fail. In fact, I highly encourage it. 

If there’s anything I’ve learned from being a twenty-something millennial who came out of school during the Great Recession, it’s this:
I don’t know, and it’s okay.  

Until next time, farewell, & may your life never cease to be filled with wonder and curiosity.



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5 comments to Be where you are: the Truth about growing up

  • Dad says:

    Ah see now all that hard work and studying did pay off, great insite kiddo, I much prefer the peter pan route, and in the immortal words of Doc Hoilday “Ah Wyatt, don’t ya know, theres no such thing as a normal life. Theres just life”

    • Yes, it’s taken twenty-four years, but I actually might be starting to understand things. Haha.

  • […] The truth about growing up […]

  • Egla says:

    It IS effing freezing in Chicago.

  • […] Be where you are: the Truth about growing up on Be where you are: There is no path […]

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