Making It Work

I was never someone who had an idea of what her future would look like.  It was a given that I would go to college, but beyond that everything was just a hazy blur.  I spent years working so hard to get myself to that point, but ever since then I just feel like I’m squeaking by.  I never really sat down and thought about what I wanted to do with my life.  I always knew I liked to read and write, so publishing seemed like the logical career path.  I got a job before graduating from college at a big fancy publishing house and the decision to move to New York was made for me.  In theory, I was all set.

But then I made it to the big city and realized I wasn’t prepared for adulthood at all.

I remember my first day of my first full-time job.  Walking to the subway in shoes that were too small and too tight, shredding my heels and having to stop at a drug store to buy bandaids.  Being assigned a desk in a corner surrounded by finance bigwigs who didn’t speak to me and didn’t seem to notice I was there.  Realizing for the first time that this new nine-to-five routine was quite possibly going to last forever and ever.  No more carefree student days, just day upon day of responsibility and anxiety.

I went home and dry-heaved into the toilet, my heart racing.  I think it was my first panic attack.

Of course, I adjusted to working life.  That job wasn’t for me, but it led to another (also not a good fit) and then finally I made the decision to move back to California.  It was probably my first life big decision that wasn’t made for me.  I knew I wanted to be home and and realized that I had always probably known that it was where I should be.  I was happier in the last seven years than I had been in a long time.  I had given myself exactly what I needed and everything else fell into place.

But life apparently has other plans and now I find myself in a new country with all of this time to contemplate what I want to be when I grow up.  And yet I’ve been a grown-up for years now.  I have a master’s degree in something that isn’t in high demand at the moment and I’m not sure how/if I even want to use it now.

I could do anything . . . but I’m kind of dragging my heels.  This is the first time in a long time where the future is wide open.  I have the chance to start from scratch if I want to: to build a working life that is meaningful rather than a simple paycheck.  I just need to figure out what I want and, quite frankly, all of this introspection is exhausting.  I would much rather have someone (for some reason I keep picturing Tim Gunn from Project Runway) reveal my future and present me with a detailed list of steps to get there.

Sadly, life isn’t like that.  Ugh, that’s so frustrating.

So for now, I am making my own list of all of the possible things I could become.  It is color-coded and long and messy.  But at least it’s a start.