Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lost and Found

I'm not sure if I should admit to sympathizing with Kristin Cavaleri of MTV's "Realty" TV show, The Hills, but during the series finale she announces that she's moving to Europe for a few months (or longer) to find herself. She's hit her mid-20s and still doesn't know what she wants to do with her life, or who she is supposed to be. I have to say, referencing my guilty pleasure isn't something I generally do, but I'm beginning to believe that the sentiment of feeling a bit lost in the ensuing post-college years is a feeling inherent to the early and mid-2o's. I don't believe that my job-hunt entries are unique to my experience alone, but I am astounded with how many of my 20-something-year-old friends sympathize with my feelings after reading my blog. (Thanks for reading!!)

Writing this blog has invariably been a journal of my hunt for the perfect job, but the undertones have essentially been my hunt for defining myself. It matters so much to me to have a job that I am proud of, that aligns with who I am and what I love. While I can easily tell you the things I love (writing, reading, Spanish, international politics and economics, helping people), I'm not sure how to get my foot in the door where I can exchange these interests for a salary that doesn't leave me sacrificing the lifestyle I've grown accustomed to.

Cavaleri of The Hills says she needs to leave Los Angeles to find herself, and I can relate. While saying that I'm trying to "find myself" would infer that I feel lost, I don't actually feel lost per se; rather, I feel like I am on a convoluted path that might not lead to where I want to go, and the ventures along the way aren't the type of challenges I aspire to take on.

After over a year of willing myself to find the perfect job to define me, I've decided to switch gears and turn around: I'm going to find myself in order to define my career, and I'm going to do it in South America. The plan is to backpack with my friend for four months with no set agenda aside from dipping my toes in the mud along the Amazon river, hiking to Machu Picchu and stuffing my face with all the alfajores my stomach can allow. Along the way, I hope to meet people of all kinds, sleep under the stars, cry, laugh and and to write about every single thing I see, feel, breath, smell and touch. I want to see the good, the bad and the ugly of the continent, and I want to learn how all of those things make me feel.

This winter I rode the ski lift up the upper lip of an "Experts Only" run at the peak of the mountain. I stood at the top of lip, staring down at the drop off and the steep run that awaited me. To the side, along a long catwalk, was an escape to some less-challenging, more familiar runs. Though I wasn't an expert skier, I mustered the courage, and pushed off the lip. I landed off the lip, but lost my balance and somersaulted for a few yards, leaving a pole stranded in the powder up the mountain. During my tumbling descent, my skis slapped against the back of my head and blood flooded my beanie. With the help of a friend, we collected my abandoned pole and finished the run. Though I fell, and fell badly, I don't consider my attempt a failure. Had I negated to try at all, that would have been the failure. I did get hurt on my run, and still have a faint scar buried under layers of hair, but the risk was the victory. Though taking a leave of absence from my current employer is a risk, and I might suffer economic consequences when I return, I'd rather have another scar than gaze longingly at the run never knowing how it would feel.

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