Halfway Gone & On My Way

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

If you know me even remotely well, you know I like to change my mind.  A lot.  I am very easily influenced by pop culture and random things happening at any given time.  This mostly plays out in my choice of careers, hobbies, and future life goals.  After "You've Got Mail," I really wanted to run a children's book shop.  When I discovered Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, I had big plans of opening a cupcake bakery.  I spend hours in Barnes and Noble thinking about writing books (and have even started a few), but have yet to finish a manuscript.  One day I will, and I will live my dream life of wearing jeans to work, writing in Bryant Park all day, and shopping at Whole Foods on a daily basis. 

I like to think of it as creativity and inspiration, not so much a lack of commitment or unwillingness to grow up.  I am plenty grown up.  I just like options.  Crave them.  My desire for options also extends to whichever city I have recently visited.  The first time I saw San Francisco, I just knew I would live there.  There are days when all I can think about is that New York apartment (today is one of them).  I spent all of three days in Seattle two years ago and still dream about packing up and moving, just for a little while.  (I certainly don't already have an apartment in Seattle picked out, but if I did, it would be the Harbor Steps.) 

Here is the problem.  The entire American school system sets students up for this need for change.  Every four to five years, we are conditioned to expect a major life change.  From the time we are five years old, we learn not to get too comfortable, because things inevitably change.  We go to Kindergarten for a year and then change to a whole new big building, full of big kids and bigger playgrounds.  We go to elementary school for five years and make the super scary transition to middle school.  Again, new place, new faces.  We spend three years there (hating most of it) before finally arriving in the world.  American high schools are the worst, because they spend four years preparing students for their entire world to change.  In between football games, Hall Dec and SUN dances, we are constantly told how to prepare for college, what we're doing well, and what we should have already done.

And just like that, you get to be a full-fledged, real-life, pretend grown up...

For four years, all anyone hears is that those are the best four years of your life.  The person sitting next to you on the first day of chapel could be your future spouse.  The friends you meet here are the ones who will matter fifty years from now.  Oh, and by the way, you might still be paying for the best four years of your life fifty years from now, too.  It's just the best.

But then what happens?  Like any good upper-middle-class college graduate who doesn't know what to do next, grad school is the obvious choice.  We work for a year or two, maybe even do something like Teach for America or the Peace Corps (you know, because we are givers), and then apply to graduate school.  It's the only thing we have known our entire lives.  And we are good at it. 

But then what happens? 

New jobs, maybe a wedding, maybe babies (or puppies).  But deep down, whether or not we know it, we are going to need something new in approximately 3.5 years.  Change is all we've ever known.  And there are days when doing something different sounds like the most fun thing in the entire world.  And it will be, for another couple of years.

"Halfway between somewhere and nothing, woke up and I'm twenty something." (Graham Colton)


  1. This is so true. I find myself "ready for a change" all the time, which is one of the main reasons I applied to grad school (the second time). So what's my plan when I finish that is in approximately 3.5 years? Babies, I guess. Is that a good reason to have a baby?

  2. It's as good a reason as anything else. :-)

  3. Hi Katie! It's Madison Chadwick =) I stumbled on your blog while Facebook stalking you. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. It makes me feel more rational about being 25 and completely indecisive about life. Guess I have a couple more years til I need another mega change!