We’re Moving! (Part II)

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In March, during a particularly down time, I decided to take advantage of my last built in spring break and go on a road trip. I had a couple stops along the way, but ultimately, I had planned to fulfill the promise I’d been making to a good friend over and over. I was finally going to visit Raleigh.

On my way home from that trip, driving out of town felt like I was leaving my home. And that is when I promise myself that come August 15 (the end of my then lease) if I didn’t have a job in Michigan, I would move to Raleigh and figure. it. out.

Months went on, and I forgot where the fire within that goal was, got complacent, thought I was going to stay at my then job. When my job came to an end July 1, I started planning my next trip to NC. I figured I could either remind myself why this was what I wanted, or I could put the dream to rest.

On the way home from that trip, the calling was even stronger. I began endlessly and obsessively hunting for jobs in the area. Teaching myself new software to be eligible for these positions, and for the first time feeling like I had a goal and a direction, and an answer to the question “What do you want to do?”

——-

I don’t have one dream job. I don’t have a single position that I will chase forever. But right now, I do have a city. So in 8 hours, I will begin driving 12 to go to my new home.

While I have been looking and hunting for both apartments and jobs, neither are solidified yet. I will arrive in Raleigh to stay with my Aunt and Uncle for what I keep promising will be no more than 2 weeks, in hopes that I won’t become that house guest.

I’m prepared to work small jobs. Unpaid internships, Waiting tables (which I don’t yet have any experience in), part-time pencil pushing. Anything to make ends meet and begin to make professional connections in a new city.

—–

The reactions from this have ranged from “Well, do you have to go” to “oh my gosh, I wish I could just up and leave.” The prior coming mostly from the older generation of grandparents and worried mom’s. I’ve been told how brave, courageous, talented, independent etc. that I am in the past two weeks. I don’t know if I feel that way, but if it’s true, then I hope it inspires other people to be the same.

It just got to the point where I couldn’t come up with reasons NOT to do this. North Carolina is a what-if dream I’ve been dwelling on for nearly 8 years now. And now, without an apartment. Without a job. Without a relationship. I have very little keeping me from pursuing this.

That is not to say that I don’t have so so many amazing friendships I will be putting distance between in doing this. I’m moving away from all of my friends and family who are family and friends. But I have a calm in doing so, because I know that distance will do little to the bond I have with these people. Saying goodbye was unpleasant, but not entirely devastating.

The first two years my sister and I lived apart, were probably the two years that we leaned on, and cherished each other the most. I have no doubts in saying that my time away from Michigan will effect my friendships in similar ways.

PLUS Ya’ll better visit like you promised.

—–

This might be the most long winded, indirect post I’ve ever written, but this is all to say, I pray that this experience becomes an amazing one. That I look back in awe of what I created with the help of my generous friends and family. And that I can build a life and a career in an unfamiliar, but vibrant and exciting town that I have dreamed about for countless nights.

I still can’t believe I’m doing this. It seems like I am suddenly living in the alternate universe where Annie is daring and challenges expectation, but I suppose now that is who I have become.

So much has changed in the last year, and I can only imagine how the trajectory will continue to change in the upcoming months.

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WE ARE MOVING (Part 1!)

Photo cred: itsabrideslife.com

It is currently ten minutes to 4 o’clock in the morning and about 9 hours ago, I set out on what was going to be a lengthy drive.  Knowing that I was going to be driving into the wee hours of the morning, I grabbed myself a Grande Chai Tea Latte at the start of my trip, followed by an iced coffee at a gas station a few hours later.  Turns out, that to an individual who does not consume caffeine, this particular concoction of beverages will not solve the problem of falling asleep on the road, but rather morph it into the problem of not being able to sleep hours later.

Yay for 4 am.

Yay for needing to be on the road again at 10 am…

But let’s get to the real picture here.  I haven’t written a blog post for a few weeks now and I promise, there’s a good reason for that.

Currently, at this very moment, “oh” dark hundred in the morning, of the 23rd year of my life, here’s what’s happening.

I left my job three weeks ago.  And really, all that I have to say about that, is that it went relatively smoothly, and happened quickly and was right.  And also, I’ve been counting my blessings that I had a job to quit at all.

Luck seems to have struck for me.  Or maybe just years of extremely hard work and trudging my way through life situations that have been far beyond my maturity level have caught up and the universe has decided to align in the “age of Aquarius” and give me a little break.

I quit my old job because I was offered a new position – which I actively sought out – and it’s in a place that I’ve always dreamed of living and the job is in, well, IT.  And, it focuses primarily on, well, computer programming.  Which, I understand isn’t everybody’s thang, but it seems to be mine and I’m so, so grateful.

So, I quit my job, I took a new one (in a different state), and because apparently not enough was happening in my life, I decided to buy a house.

*Take two steps back, place palms on both your cheeks and stare at me, dumbfounded*

This wasn’t in my plan.  I didn’t plan to move out of state pronto, and buy the fifth house that I looked at with a realtor, and decide to move into said house with my boyfriend [read, not fiancé, not husband].

Nah, that wasn’t the plan.  But for the sake of being open and honest and candid…

This feels like a far better decision than any of those other things that I spent weeks and months and years sifting through and picking over in my head.  I, for the first time, am owning my twenties, grabbing the bull by the horns, and moving in the direction of my dreams.

It feels wonderful, it feels liberating, and it feels like I’m 23 and finally beginning to understand what it means to be in control of my own life.

You belong where choose to be

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I went on my second semi spontaneous/all on my own/multi-stop road trip for the last couple of weeks. And though I stayed with family and friends along the way, one of my stops was completely on my own.

I drove 10 hours out of my way to spend less than 24 hours in a city in which I knew no one. It was one of the most intimidating things I have ever done, but those few quiet, lonely, observant hours have changed the way I will approach new situations in the future.

I did my research as soon as I got to the hotel a few miles away from downtown Savannah. I looked up bars, restaurants, and sights that I needed to see. Then before I lost my nerve, I drove into town, and meandered around the old streets and a 1877 cemetery while it was still light out. I braved some rain, and saw many other tourists out and about (though usually in massive groups and matching shirts).

I then walked downtown. Taking in park after park along my walk, and memorizing the cross streets I left my car on. I approached a bar with a group of people outside smoking that looked friendly enough, and decided with assertion to walk in. Turns out, the bar was empty sans the group outside, which included the bartender. and they were all friends.

So here I am. Plopped on a bar stool, an outsider at an obviously local hangout where everyone knows each other, ordering a strong cocktail at 8pm on a Tuesday night. Alone.

And do you know what I decided. I belonged there. I belonged there because I chose to be there. I did not need to qualify to these strangers by staring at my phone or acting distracted, or striking up a conversation that it was ok for me to be there alone. It just simply was, OK.

It sounds like a minute revelation, but for me it is important. There are so many times that I have felt out of place, especially in a social setting. But if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it with conviction. How do business owners get more money? By new customers walking through their doors. Just because you don’t know “how it works” or who the regular staff is doesn’t give you any less reign over a situation.

By the time I got my coffee the next morning and sat in silence, trying contiously not to bury my head in my cellphone, it wasn’t quite so hard.

So I learned. Embrace the discomfort. Go somewhere new. You belong there.

Does hook up culture requires an unhealthy emotional detachement?

I once had a week long romance. With someone I knew as soon as a I met would not be in my life for more than a week. Moving out of the state, out of the country, with no plans to keep in touch. Yet I still willingly engaged.

And on the other side of the week, I was unsure of how to feel. Emotional detachment is not something I usually engage in, and I think it is pretty obvious that I’m not very good at it. I value the interactions I have with others, romantic and otherwise. Conversations with strangers sometimes hold more weight in my mind than “how are you’s” with familiar faces. So a week of spending time with someone while simultaneously keeping them at arm’s-length in my mind was difficult.

And so I wonder, why is hookup culture so relevant in our generation? I get the whole “own your sexuality” thing and the idea that if you want it you can go get it, and I think women feeling in control of their sex is extremely important. But what do girls feel after a one night stand and casual hookups? My experience was far from a one night stand (in duration, and a complete lack of sex) and still, I felt a sense of loss.

This week long affair went through all normal stages of a long relationship in a fast forwarded. First date, I was in awe… what if I thought. It was spontaneous, I had butterflies, he was fascinating, the possibilities were endless. Second date, it became clear we didn’t have that much in common, but still, it was nice to have someone to spend time with. We  saw each other two additional times, which was probably two times too many, and by the end I felt like the almost ex who was hanging around too long.

My question is this. Is the detachment required to get through a one night stand emotionally stunting us? Am I the odd-one-out for not being emotionally/mentally capable of these types of arrangements? Or are other girls equally uncomfortable, but agreeing to them because they have become the social standard? Personal and intimate interactions with other people are supposed to make us feel, but why are we encouraged to act like we don’t?

On Letting Go [of Prom Dresses and Sports Trophies]

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My four high school years were some of the best of my life thus far. Successful in academics, athletics, friendships, and never without a date to a school dance, it was a wonderful time. That is, until that rejoiceful day when I donned my cap and gown and then realized for the first time that I was going to uproot myself for the foreseeable future from so many that I loved and cared about.

In “understanding” that we were meant to grow up and forge new friendships after high school, my hometown graduating class of ’09 adopted a philosophy that it was bad or immature to hold on to those dear friendships from that time. To this day, I still hear “so and so went to college and still hangs out with only people from our hometown, which is totally their choice, but just not for me”.

There were some who looked that stigma dead in the eye and said “screw it”, finding that they had more in common with those that they had met walking into kindergarten almost two decades ago than someone they recently crossed paths with on campus. There were some that had such abundantly welcoming personalities that they discovered a new set of lifelong friends within weeks.

And then it seemed, there was me. Despite my ease of finding friends throughout my youth and adolescent years, it became incredibly difficult for me to find commonalities with others in college. Friends drifted in and out of my life like an ocean tide, and alongside these newer, younger friendships, I lost friends that I had known for years, simply because we grew apart.

Yet, despite the sob story that this seems to be coming across as, there is a silver lining. I have found that throughout the years, those that were my best of friends (*cough* Annie *cough*) have remained figuratively and literally by my side through the ups and downs. And equally as importantly, I have decided that I finally feel ready to let go and move on from all those other high school friendships and novelties (insert sigh of relief).

You see, for years, I have unhealthily been looking back and longing for those days when I felt on top of the world.  As a result, I was missing out on making friends from this period in my life.  And while I can’t go back to kindergarten and make new lifelong friends, I can develop relationships at this point that will better suit me and last for years to come.  It’s time I start remembering high school in a healthy way; in a way that lets me move on.

Scoring the winning goal at a soccer game with my teammates – who felt more like sisters – is a thing of the past. So are the weekends with nothing to do but two hours of homework and a whole lot of socializing…

And they’ve been replaced by something beautiful. They’ve been replaced by sleeping in until 8 on Saturday (oh God, did I just say that?!), and for the first time in years smelling coffee brewing in my house – reminding me of the presence of my boyfriend. They’ve been replaced by family, and the hope of children in years to come. And by coworkers and the familiarity of a friend going through the same struggles in life, at the same time.

Most importantly though, that feeling of longing to return to those glory days of Most Improved sports trophies and Art Show awards has turned into a feeling of embracing the present and those beautiful souls that are a part of my everyday life right now – regardless of whether they’re from my hometown or not.

I’m Scared

Like really fucking scared.

In two weeks I will be out of the job. A temporary job, whose end was imminent, but for the first time since freshman year of college, I will not have a job. for the first time since….. preschool I won’t have school to go to in the fall. For the first time ever, time is stretching before me, and no one is telling me how to fill it.

What does my worth and identity become when I do not have a title next to my name. Annie: full time employee. Annie: product design student. Annie: swimmer. Annie: captain of the soccer team. Annie: lifeguard. When is the last time I didn’t have an answer to What do you do? Furthermore, why is what do you do the first question we ask people?

What do I do? What will I do? What do people without jobs do? Search for jobs, sure, but how many hours a day do you spend filling out resumes? Will I become  a hermit sitting in my house on the internet all day? Will I become a regular at the coffee shop? Will I end up partying every night, because, why not? 

I’m so scared. Where am I going to live? Do I have to move back home? How is that going to feel? Like defeat. Like giving up? Like I put thousands and thousands of dollars into University, and I wind up right where I started. Like I need my Mommy again?

know that this is my chance to pursue any opportunity I want. But what do I want? I don’t know. And no one is telling me. And I’m scared.

Redefining Self in Your Twenties

About two months ago, I watched a TED talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/meg_jay_why_30_is_not_the_new_20) that a coworker had recommended to me.  The speaker’s name was Meg Jay and she spoke to the idea that many twenty-somethings are coasting through an extremely influential decade in their life, claiming that adulthood starts ten years later.  While she makes many good points, the most memorable excerpt for me was the idea that in our lives, our brains go through two major growth spurts.  The first is as a child and the second is in your twenties.

The result?

Your twenties offer you with a new boost of personality and a new opportunity for you to develop into who you want to be.

I gave this idea some thought the other day and quickly spiraled into a level of reflection that I haven’t reached in quite some time.

It turns out that I am in a period of transition.  If you were to ask me what I want to do with my career, I wouldn’t have an answer.  The same is true for when I want to have kids, or where I want to live, or even bigger things, like whether I have a soul that will continue on after I die or whether, ultimately, I should be inherently selfless, or look out more for myself than for my neighbor.

To be completely honest, what prompted this soul searching was my recognition of how I have been dealing with relationships and leading conversations in my life.  My stepmother has told me before that “it is far easier to be negative than to be positive in life” and my goodness, I’ll be damned if that isn’t true.  So, to determine a cause for the shift in my life outlook, I began to deeply consider the things that surround me.  Why, in this critical period of personality development, would I be turning into an irritable, hard-to-deal-with person?

The truth is, I feel like I encounter intolerance everywhere I go.  On the commute home, it’s as if every man is for himself.  People cut each other off and honk their horns and follow too closely.  At the grocery store the other day, I literally had an old man snap at me for accidentally picking up the deli meat he had ordered at the counter…  Only to have an old woman yell at me in the parking lot after she nearly backed into me.

So, what’s the point?

The point is that I have realized that in trying to juggle the demands of adulthood, I am slowly, but surely, becoming jaded, just like the man at the deli counter or the woman in the parking lot.  And as a woman in my mid twenties, it is extremely difficult to think back to the vivid hopes and dreams that I had as a child – of the person that I was going to be and the life that I was going to live [I literally thought that I was going to change the world] – and recognize that I am living the same life as my neighbors, am equally as (if not more) frustrated than them with the inconveniences of daily life and have adopted that into my psyche without acknowledging it…

Is it inevitable that in adapting to our world as adults, we lose touch of the fire and drive that we felt as children?  Does being a good person to those that you love constitute as changing the world?  Why do we feel such intolerance for our neighbors, who are trying to “get by” day to day, just like us?  Is there a set path that we are meant to follow psychologically and physiologically when we get to this age?  If so, am I on it?

Am I ultimately developing into the person that I want to be?

These are the questions that I want answers to…

-E