Wednesday, May 5, 2010

22: too-too confusing

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my 23rd year of life. 22 was by far the most confusing year I have yet to experience. On my 22nd birthday, I had just accepted a position with my current employee and was finishing college within a couple of weeks. I was ready to graduate- to gain some financial stability and independence, to start a new adventure and to break out of the rutted college social scene. Even though I had a job. I knew where I'd be living for the summer and was ready to put on my cap and gown (though I skipped graduation for a trip to South America), I battled a mix of emotions.

Leaving college meant really growing up. I'd be managing all my bills, finances and be moving far from home. I was going alone, and would be saying goodbye to my biological family as well as the family I'd built in my four years. It wasn't just relocating, but also a complete life style change. Friday afternoons would no longer be spent lounging on the adored "waffle couch" with my roommates as we dozed in and out of light sleeps and clicking through Facebook photos. I'd no longer cruise around campus, one pant leg rolled up en route to the gym, class or the library. Monday through Friday wouldn't be cramming for exams, translating Spanish literature or debating assigned reading with my classmates. I'd no longer spent Sundays buried in books in my favorite corner of the library or fall asleep at night swapping hopes and dreams with my best friend just one bunk down. Yes, I was ready to be an adult, but there was so much of me that yearned for just one more year to enjoy these simple pleasures that I would never have again.

After college and my South American adventure, I packed my bags and headed to Chicago for job training. I remember fighting back tears as my sister's finger tips dug into my back and she whimpered that it would never be the same again.

Job training was fun and a great segway between college/childhood to adulthood, but my contract with my company required that I be willing to move wherever they placed me at the end of the summer. There was no guarantee that I'd end up somewhere on my list and I wouldn't find out my fate until days before I was slated to make the move. Even though the summer flew by, I worried each day of where I'd be calling home come the end of August. I had no control over my fate. I had no way to plan or prepare- and this is the most stressful aspect for someone like me who has always mapped out each stage of her life with precision.
Rumors flew of what cities were accepting trainees, and my blood pressure continued to escalate each time I was reminded that every city on my list was already overstaffed. Placement day, August 21 arrived and I celebrated my placement in my top choice: San Francisco. August 24th I landed at SFO, suitcases of shoes and clothes in tow and I embarked on the quest to find housing, furniture and friends in a city completely alien to me.
Once things slowed down and I'd secured some basic furnishing in my apartment (mattress, couch, TV and some kitchen wares) and I settled in, I realized how much free time I had on my hands. I didn't have my network of friends and family to keep my social life pumping and I didn't know any groups, sports teams or organizations to join. I had to build a life for myself from the ground up. I'm an extrovert, and though I love reading, after a while, I began climbing up the walls desperate for my jam-packed lifestyle I had back East where I had to actually make plans to ensure I could squeeze it all in. I had landed in the most-fitting city for my interests, hobbies and lifestyle, but I wasn't able to enjoy it to the fullest. I was confused. I was torn. I spent restless nights wondering if I should just throw in the towel and move home...
Fortunately I stuck it out and thanks to jumping onto to random sports teams and teaming up with a local non-profit, I rounded out 22 once again having to defer to my calendar to see when I was available and what weekends I had free.
But overall, 22 was a year filled with confusion: wanting to grow up, but still desperate to hold on. Wanted to move away and find my way on my own, but clinging to my East coast roots. I had never been more confused in my entire life. I knew what I wanted, but I wanted conflicting things at the same time. While enduring the consequences and reality of my choice to challenge myself and take a risk was painful at times, looking back, 22 was the year I grew the most.
I don't believe that just because I've crossed the line to my 23rd birthday that suddenly my mind and thoughts will be clear and the haze that once clouded my mind will be lifted, but I do feel stronger after confronting with double the "terrible two's".

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