10 years ago this month, I graduated high school with my 3 best friends, my family in attendance, and all the freedom that conveys.
10 years ago this month, I graduated from community college with an Associate's degree in Mass Communication.
7 years ago this month, I graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology, with my best friends and family in attendance, with all the confusion that step conveys.
Because my college has you walk in alphabetical order by major, my group was first, and I think I was 4th or 5th across the stage. My family graciously waited about another 10 minutes before looking at the horde of people still waiting to walk across the stage, and stepped up to the railing to look down on me with pride, happiness, and a wave to let me know they were all leaving and would see me at the party at Grandma's house whenever I could get away.
About 15 minutes after that, I snuck out, grabbed my friends, and left for the party. No judgment! There was another 1000 or so people to get through!
It's funny to realize how long it's been since then. In some ways, it feels like a lifetime ago, and in others, like it was just yesterday.
I wouldn't go back, I love my life, and the path it took to get me here. And I remember being that overconfident 20 year old, out to face the world and bring it down around my feet, brick by brick.
The ambition is still there. I'm still driven and want to be more and do more and get better at work. But that ambition is tempered with maturity, education, experience, and more.
The years between high school graduation at 17 and around 22-23, I think those were my main growing years. The years in which I figured out who I was, who was important to me, the power and grace of forgiving people who have wronged you, and in learning from my mistakes instead of holding too tightly to regret.
Those were the years in which I made the most mistakes, got my heart broken, and probably broke a heart or 2 as well. The years in which I learned just how lazy I could be, and in contrast, just how hard I would work at something when it mattered.
I learned how to manage money, pay my own bills, study correctly, and do my taxes. I was taught how to write a resume, what it means when friends "just grow apart," and just how little sleep I needed to live.
I also learned that real friendships last, no matter how far away you live from each other, and how sometimes friendships can break up when you're living in the same house. That one taught me that even when it's not your fault, and you both tried, it still leaves you feeling guilty and lonely for awhile. But the other one taught me that distance makes so difference with real friends and those 3 are still here, 14 years and another state later.
Those were the years in which I fully realized how important family is. How a family member might come and rescue you from yourself and take you home with them and let you heal, and not ask too many questions. How your big brother is no longer this all-knowing magical hero, but is a real person with problems, who talks to you about them and values your input. How your mom isn't a know-it-all who just wants to ruin all your fun, but this real, dynamic, flawed person, just like you. And how right they always were about almost everything. How rewarding it is to become an aunt, and have this new life and new generation to love and grow with.
At the end of that time period, around 23 or so, I started to really learn what being an "adult" meant. I'd been on my own for years by then, paying bills and working full time, but it was around that time that I started to think about teenagers as idiots, bedtime as not being 3 am, and "going out" not as house parties, but as dinner and a movie or seeing a band.
I started to value sleep a LOT more, think things through a little more before I did them, and really think about what I wanted with my career and my future. I even had a retirement account!
4 years ago this month, I moved to NYC at 23. Moving by yourself to a place where you don't know anyone is a huge learning experience! But in between the weird or crappy roommates, the not-so-great first job here, the struggle to meet people and build a new life, I also found new friends, new experiences and adventures, new confidence, a new career, and the love of my life.
1 year ago this month, I started working at my current job! I started in the staffing industry in a new career path and I LOVE IT!
For some reason, I feel like I'm on the cusp of the rest of my life. Maybe it's my upcoming birthday (which I'm excited about, I love getting older!), or that this month marks so many great and memorable anniversaries for me. Perhaps it is that nice round big-sounding "10 year high school reunion" that I keep getting notifications about! Maybe I'm becoming more adult than ever before. Heck, I've even done my OWN taxes the last few years and am talking about buying property at some point in the future! I know what a mortgage is, and how to get one.
For whatever reason, I feel like I'm standing just at the edge of the rest of my life, and I can't wait to see what happens next.
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
There seem to be a lot of articles online lately about things parents should do, or articles by parents saying what childless heathens should and should not do (and mostly, just to ‘deal with it because you aren’t parents and you don’t understand’). [Note: for some reason, I’ve seen a lot of these articles lately. Not sure why. This is my response to them.]
One thing that bugs me is someone saying something like “you don’t know what tired means until you have a baby!” Or “you don’t understand love until you have kids!”
That’s unfair. I totally understand that you love your whiny kid more than you thought possible, and that you’ve endured some crazy sleepless nights with it, but to cheapen the love and/or tiredness that I’ve experienced isn’t really fair. I’ve had late nights studying or partying, or when my insomnia unfortunately kicks in, and I’ve loved. I love Boyfriend, my family, the friends who have become family, and others.
What you’re basically saying is that the love I feel for my expensive workout clothes or my mom isn’t actually love. It’s simply a cheap facsimile of what I think love MIGHT be, but doesn’t even scratch the surface of REAL LOVE.
No, that isn’t patronizing or condescending at all.
I get what you’re TRYING to say, but what comes out is sanctimonious tripe disguised as advice for childless freaks.
Maybe an alternative could be “You would not believe how tiring it is to have kids.” Or “I didn’t know I could feel this much love before shooting this snotfactory out of me.” Both of these statements are probably true, and don’t throw hate at non-child-having people. See the difference?
Several of the articles I mentioned talk about how rude and unacceptable it is when childless people comment on kids or parenting issues. Though I may not have kids of my own, I’m certainly allowed to have opinions on kids and parents and parenting styles. I mean, I don’t have cancer either, but I stand pretty firm on my opinion that cancer is bad and chemo is probably a good treatment for it.
Maybe you don’t want to hear my opinions on how you raise your kids. Fine by me. I would also like to not hear your opinions on why my life is meaningless without any.
I just don’t understand why all of this even needs to be addressed. If you have kids, I think that’s awesome, and I’m super happy for you and I really love kids, so if they are near me, I’ll play with them and stuff. If I don’t have any, I’m not sure how that in any way affects you. I mean, I can see how it affects ME.
I can sleep in as late as I want on the weekends, and can follow that up with a whole day of watching Modern Family and Bones. I can eat a dinner of chocolate cheerios if I want, and can avoid any and all drop off lanes in front of schools. I can also leave the apartment whenever I want without hiring a babysitter, and watch non-family-friendly TV shows, like Game of Thrones, in the middle of the day. I can wait until I’m ready to have kids, instead of people thinking I should already be ready.
Most importantly, I hate Spongebob and Caillou, so I can completely avoid those!
The reality is, whether we have kids or not, we are all people and everyone should live their life as they see fit, doing what works best for them on the timeline that makes them happy.
My brother got married at 22, my best friend in the whole world at 25. Was I at all ready at 22 (hell no) or 25 (still no, but not as rude about it)? You only get the one life. Do it the way that works best for you.
I guess for me, I just don’t even understand why these articles need to exist. A lot of the ones I’ve been seeing are basically moms talking about how hard being a parent is (agreed!) while also bashing non-parents, basically for existing. Why? Why is this happening?
Also, you should really check out stfuparentsblog.com. It is really, really funny.
In the end, we should all do what we want, when we want. I don’t let some arbitrary timeline rule how I live my life. I’m also not super concerned about how other people choose to live their lives. As long as they aren’t endangering me (or others! Example: I am against drunk driving, even if you are not physically near me. I’m also against teenage driving.), I’m good with their choices.
Be yourself, share your wisdom, feel free to dispense advice (but understand that it may not be taken, and be ok with that!), share your experiences. But don’t try to push your choices on someone else. That’s not fair.
And while I may have finally accepted that LIFE isn’t fair, I still want and expect people to be.