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24

As my 24th year on this earth comes to a close, I look back on the past year and honestly think only one thing: I thought I had grown during grad school, but boy was I wrong. Hey grads, get ready. Put your big kid pants on. Life outside of school is literally the weirdest, happiest and saddest experience you could ever imagine.

In the past year I’ve graduated from grad school, left my safe haven city, moved to a brand new city, lived alone, started a new job, had a significant injury, adopted a cat, joined a new gym, quit that first job, lived unemployed, traveled, cried, fought, laughed, struggled, read, wrote, watched a lot of HGTV, cooked, refinished wood floors, bought a mattress… basically 24 was absolutely terrifying.

I knew that graduating after 6 years bottled up in a little utopia town was going to be a hard thing to stomach, but I didn’t realize how incredibly hard the transition was going to be. This social butterfly, moving to a new city to be with her boyfriend, taking on the world as a young, capable, 23-year-old. The world at her fingertips. Doesn’t seem like it would be all that bad.

I started a job that I knew instantly wasn’t for me, but besides my very closest friends and family, tried so desperately to hide it. As a millennial, you hear all of these terrible things about how millennials are at work (and generally at life) and try SO HARD not to be “like that”. Not to be the spoiled, selfish, quit-when-it’s-too-hard kid living off your parents’ money, wasting away with two degrees and no effort to use them. A failure.

Quitting a job is one of the most shameful things I have ever experienced. Brené Brown tells us that “shame is lethal”, and I agree with her. It is honestly counterproductive. But how do you convince yourself to stop feeling that way when you are knee deep in it? I didn’t get fired, I was dreadfully unhappy, and I made the big girl decision to try and make a positive change. But I felt more like a big, fat, awful failure than I ever had in my entire life.

I still struggle with feelings of shame, even though every single decision I’ve made in the last year has been my own. What will people think of me? There are people who have been nothing but supportive so why should anyone else be anything different? If they aren’t supportive, why should I consider their opinions important to me in any way? After all, as everyone’s favorite poet told us,

“Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”.

I’m worried about the shame I’ll feel from the assumption that others are looking down on me. You wonder why I’ve waited this long to publicize the fact that I’m struggling? The fact that I quit a job and still don’t have a new full-time job? That I’ve been rejected from more positions than I can count and have even turned down the only opportunities that have presented themselves? That I’ve been a moody, drawn back, glass-half-empty friend, girlfriend, sister, daughter? That I’m almost 25 with two degrees and I still don’t have my shit together?

Want to know how long it took me to get over that shame? Oh, I’m still not. Gallons of tears and hundreds of hours of soul searching and processing (and thank God for my parents and their patient, patient hearts) have brought me to where I think I’m about to break even. Some days I really do feel optimistic. Like I’m doing the right thing. Like these few months of feeling lost and overwhelmed is coming to its peak and soon I’ll be riding a sweet, snowy sled down towards the end. Other days, I’m consumed with this feeling that I’m just floating, unattached and useless. Wasting away with this deep-seeded desire to feel needed and purposeful.

Lucky for me, the gym is where I get that feeling. (You knew it was coming, didn’t you?)

I am now spoiled rotten with the ability to throw myself into the gym, something I so desperately wanted when I was working full-time. When you’re unhappy, you want to do things that make you happy; thus, the gym. My sanity. How lucky I am that I found something that has been so incredibly important and helpful through this process. It’s hard to imagine any scenario in which I feel MORE purposeful than when I am using my own body to put a barbell over my head. It is one of the most powerful, empowering feelings I can imagine. Not to mention the lessons I learn every day when I’m in there about perseverance, hard work & trusting myself.

To quote myself (how Millennial of me):

“Sometimes CrossFit doesn’t have hidden life lessons, and then sometimes it does and they’re really more blatantly obvious than hidden. Work Hard. Trust yourself. Have faith. Find beauty in your strength. Struggle is guaranteed, failure is immanent. But, above all, just be patient, because it’s the only way you’re going to get the bar over your head and I promise you it’s the only way you’re going to get better.”

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(I have thought from the very beginning that crossfitters should put it on their resume. If you can show up every day to better yourself at your own will, work as a teammate and individual, do things that scare the crap out of you, take and follow direction, bring energy to the room, aren’t afraid to make mistakes, are capable of finishing work in a set amount of time or even before that time cap… you deserve the job. Period.)

This thing is a process, and it is not easy. It is something I can’t even really put into words. There are plenty of articles out there that try to explain it to us, articulate the emotions that we can’t quite understand. But honestly, those articles and even this blog post won’t do you any justice until you experience it for yourself.

Now as 25 approaches, I have moved once again, still full-time jobless, spending my savings on rent and food, but trying to feel more hopeful than I did when I first left Bloomington a year ago. I’m not working a job I dislike, I won’t go hungry (thanks, again, to my perfect mom and dad), I have a roof over my head, and even some part-time stuff going on.

Some days I feel okay. Other days I drive to Meijer and spend $4 on a pint of Arctic Zero ice cream that I should be saving to spend on real food, and forget about my shit out tomorrow. Some people call it balance, I just call it being 24.

Here’s to 25.

Maggie

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Why I’m Not Really Planning for the Future

I am addicted to my email calendar. Online calendars have changed my life: they have calmed me, routined me, steadied me, at times they’ve stressed me. I know where I’m going and at what time I’m going there at almost every point of the day even 15 minutes before I have to be there thanks to my iPhone.

Thanks to my new RPStrength templates, I now know exactly when I get to eat during the day and what I get to eat at each of those times. Right at waking; 3-5 hrs after that; 1-3 hrs before training; during training; 40 minutes after training; 2-4 hrs after that right before bed.

I am a full time student. I work three, part-time jobs that total over 40 hours a week. I am in a long distance relationship with someone who is worth making an hour drive there and back twice a week. I workout at least 60 minutes a day. I also like to be horizontal, against a pillow, with all of my lights off by 10:00pm. I’m not saying I’m superwoman, but sometimes I feel like it! All of the schedulers out there can understand that this can give you a calming, “I’ve got my shit under control” feeling that pretty much makes you feel like you just might have the extra 25th hour in the day that Beyoncé has.

So now, in a life filled with overcommitments and complete dependency on an iPhone to tell me where I need to be at all times, you’re telling me I need to plan for my future? I’m supposed to figure out what I’m going to be doing in five years?

I know what you’re going to say. Planning for your future is the only way to ensure that you get to where you want to go; to see the people that you want to see; to live the life that you want to live! Planning  for your future is the only way to fulfill your goals, to surpass your goals.

Well, I’m going to disagree with you for a second.

I know I could be taking this to the extreme- no one expects me to know what I’m doing at 1:30pm on February 10th, 2023. But I’ve just accepted a new, full-time position in a field that I never expected to work in, I’ve almost found a place to live in this brand new city, and I’ll be leaving my 6 year safety net of limestone and college students in less than 4 months. Tack these onto my current, daily routine, and right now, the only thing I’m trying to plan for is not having a complete meltdown that my life is about to change more significantly than it ever has in my almost 24 years on this earth.

So, future planners, no. I am not planning for my future right now. I don’t know where I’ll be living. I don’t know where I’ll be working.  I don’t know what I’ll be doing in 5 years.

Does this mean that I don’t have goals? Absolutely not. I have big goals. I have goals that have wrapped around the sun and dug themselves so deep into the parts of my brain that I didn’t know existed.

Does this mean that I’ll never plan for the future? Absolutely not. In 5 years I may actually have my shit together and have the rest of my life figured out.

Does this mean that right now I’m just breathing, and being, and following my iPhone calendar, and getting into bed by 10:00, and eating enough chocolate to make myself smile? Does this mean I’m actively trying to see what I want to see, do what I want to do, be who I want to be right now? Absolutely.

I am certain my future will happen whether I have planned it or not. I am also certain that if I plan my future, it won’t end up happening the way that I’ve planned it. As so many wise people have said before and will continue to say, life is what happens when you make plans. (Because 24 hours ago I completed my first draft of this blog post and it got deleted from my phone’s WordPress app before I could post it.– life is what happens when you make plans, am I right?)

So the next time the future scares you, take a step, a breath, and refocus on the right now: What you’re doing well, or what you can change in this very moment. So much looking ahead can make us so unaware of looking directly in front of us.

Sending self love,

Maggie