We’re expected to know, at a fairly young age, what it is we are supposed to be when we grow up. Like we have any concept or idea whatsoever about what the world is like, what professionalism and employment actually entails, or even what it means to be “grown up.” We come up with delusions of grandeur, because when you live in a world without life experience beyond Mr. Potato Head and Fraggle Rock – you think anything is possible. Not only can you grow up to be a Doctor, Fire Fighter, or Space Cowboy – but you could also have a hole in your wall where furry little creatures named Fraggles live; amongst their neighbors the Doozers and Gorgs, who all operate under the guidance of an all-knowing Trash Heap named Majorie.
Instead of setting you on a course of reality, your parents proceed to nurture these unrealistic expectations you set upon yourself, probably because they’d rather see you wrangle cattle on the moon instead of going to a liberal arts school, become a lesbian, and selling pot brownies in the quad.
Hi, I’m Tanya. I’m almost 29-years old, and I work in a pub. I own a cat, a dog, and enough underwear to go without doing laundry for at least two-and-a-half weeks because I would rather buy new underwear than do one solitary load of laundry. My cell phone is always dying, I’m constantly in the midst of an existential crisis, and I’m probably geographically further away from a relationship than I am from the Sahara Desert. I have deferred my student loans as many times as they will allow, and I can’t make regular credit card payments. My fridge has more beer than food, and I respect the nutritional value that ramen brings into my life. I don’t always make good decisions but I always take responsibility for them. Sometimes I just need things and I can’t explain why: like a good cry, warm bath, or a bag of Cheetos. Maybe all three at once. Depending on how you look at my life, I either have everything or nothing going for me; but I’m going to go ahead and say I err on the side of the latter.
Is this how I pictured my late 20’s? I honestly don’t know, because I never really thought about it. It’s not to say I’m devoid of goals, motivation, or the concept that life exists beyond the scope of a single day but I have never pictured myself getting married, having kids – a job and a house and all the other adult-type things you’re supposed to do in the “real world.” In college I flew from one mutually exclusive interest to another; every class was my favorite class, it sparked a new passion, and I was certain I was on the brink of my whatever my life’s path was. I ended up with my undergrad degree in Psychology because it’s what I had the most credits towards; and it was both easy and interesting enough. I eventually continued in that direction because quite frankly, after a few postgraduate years of transient-like drifting; I didn’t know what else to do.
I schlepped through two-and-a-half years of graduate school, replacing my life of leisure with research papers, residencies, a practicum, and my internship. In that time I had no idea whether I was coming or going, sleeping or awake; I was simply operating on auto-pilot with nothing but an end in sight. My parent’s were so proud – they could tell their friends that they daughter was actually on a track to what they perceived as doing something meaningful. She was going to be a therapist, solving the problems of the emotionally berated, saving the world one soul at a time.But when I was finally done I only found myself with a piece of paper that promised I had accomplished something, not any closer to realizing what it was I wanted to do.
I had to acknowledge that after all the labor and love I had put into my degree, that there was the palpable reality that perhaps this wasn’t the solution to my life. I struggled for a long time, thinking that life was like some riddle; and I needed to figure it out. It took years for me to realize and accept that maybe that wasn’t what it was about at all.
Hi, I’m Tanya. I’m almost 29-years old, and I have made the conscious life choice to be completely okay my life – because life is what you make it, always has been and always will be. It’s a process and not a state of being. You can only start from where you are and not where you’d like to be. If you want to be happy, begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you’ve got. I like banal blanket statements about life and I’m not even a little ashamed of it. I constantly baste upon the thoughts in my head like a Thanksgiving Turkey (which is seasonally appropriate) and can’t do anything but share them because the lot of us single-confused-whatever-somethings desperately need a Barack Obama for our movement. You are who you are, and you are where you’re at.
Know that there is nothing that you have not already endured and survived. This is just the same shit life has to offer. Good things come to those who wait – patience is a virtue. These sayings may be guilty of being cheesy and cliche but both have merit and are absolutely true. Not everyone’s path is perfect and no two go to the same place. It’s easy to feel like we’re behind; that we missed the trail somewhere – but really, we are the lucky ones. I would rather know supreme joy and periodic sadness than be tied to any one or thing. Don’t love a person, love people; love everything. Live your simple day-to-day in a way that makes your heart burst. Fill it with humans who make you tick, swim in gratitude for the most mundane of things. Remember that even though it’s scary, that getting lost can be kind of fun as well. You’ll see things you may not have otherwise seen, you’ll know things that others don’t. Sometimes you may feel lonely but don’t be fooled; you’re never alone. Follow your path, commit to it, respect it – because it’s beautiful and unique and it’s yours.