2017 Year In Review

​​​11:26pm.

​It’s dead in here can I pleeeeease get cut?

I grab my bag and run to the bathroom. Black heels and a red dress. A quick attempt at smoky eye. I snag my bar key from the top of the sink and stuff it in my coat pocket.

Bye everyone! Happy New Year!

I run out of the door and into the grey Toyota Camry. 11:41 pm.

So, I know there’s like, speed laws or whatever, but I need to make it by midnight. Step on it! I laugh, but I’m also, like, so serious.

I watch the digital clock intently like a slow motion Times Square ball drop in the Uber. My palms are sweating. “Ringing in the New Year” seems like such a frivolous thing, except this year I have someone waiting for me. –

I arrive with 8 minutes to spare. Greeted with a kiss.

I’m so happy you made it. You look amazing, Beth.

The bright, LED display counts the seconds down.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

Happy New Year, beautiful.

***

The weather is cold. I find myself slipping into a seasonal depression of sorts. I’m 23. I’m supposed to have my life figured out. I’m supposed to be sitting in an office, starting a 401k at a job with coworkers who go to happy hours and throw lavish holiday parties.

It’s 9am.

My eyes struggle to open after a long night of bartending the night before. I reach for my phone beneath my pillow.

Right swipe.

While your skills are impressive, we regret to inform you that we have chosen to pursue other candidates.

I pull the crumpled paper from my nightstand and cross off another job prospect. I pull the blanket back over my eyes.

I press my hands against my eyes. Don’t cry.

***

We both wake up with a crippling hangover. Beth’s birthday festivities won. We lost.

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I crawl into Kat’s bed. Our eyes are smothered with dark eye makeup. We are not well.

The Diner? Kat suggests.

Yes.

We practically crawl up Kalorama Road to 18th Street. The hill is too much today.

It’s noon.

Coffee and lots of water, pretty please. We cry for help. The bartender observes our creature-like appearance and can’t help but laugh.

Our food comes out. We stare at it and poke at it with our forks. The food is almost as unappetizing as the Bloody Marys served to the man next to us.

We attempt to piece together the day. We have questions. Lots of questions.

We grab a napkin and ask the bartender for a pen. Let’s map out what happened.

The napkin is full of scribbles and mixed drinks. This leads to more questions.

Why were we drinking pre-batched Old Fashioneds out of a punch bowl at 10:30pm at Johnny Pistolas?

Kat runs to the bathroom. 10 minutes later, I follow. Nope, we are definitely not well.

 

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***

I knew what my Mom was going to say as soon as I felt my phone vibrate.
I didn’t want to hear her say it. I even debated not answering and holding it off for a few more hours. I wanted to hug her one last time. Tell her how much I loved her.

I love you too, Mom.

I picked up the photograph sitting on my night stand. Nona in her fifties sitting at The Capitol building. Dark brown hair and a pink dress paired with black ballet flats.img_8202
I hold the photograph in my hands. The way her face wrinkled when she laughed. Her soft hands and silver hair cut on Tuesdays by the women of Supercuts.

This time is goodbye. Eyes fill. A tear drops on my naked chest.

I love you, Nona. I place the photo back on my nightstand. 

My mom paints her backdoor yellow in her memory. I buy a sunflower and place it on my window sill. Her favorite color is a reflection of the person she was. Vibrant and beautiful.

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***

I’ve been waiting over 2 months.

I thought applying early action meant early-we’ll-accept-or-deny-you. Tell me already, would ya?

I re-read my personal statement. Perhaps my best work. Emotional. Provocative. A difficult subject to write and read about but a conversation worth talking about. My writing style.

After all, I don’t have 2 years of PR experience as they recommend. I needed to stick out.

I latch onto this decision as if its my last chance to prove to myself that I have a handle on my life.

I need this.

Request for a phone interview. This is a good sign.

We’d like to talk to you about your personal statement. A concerning tone. The conversation starts.

I hang up the phone and replay everything back in my head. It sounded like they wanted me to apologize and scramble to take my words back. Perhaps rewrite another statement. I didn’t know exactly what they wanted.

Maybe I should have apologized, but I didn’t.

I don’t write to offend, I write to bring light to issues that may not be comfortable to talk about, but that should be talked about. I can’t change the narrative on my own, but I can contribute. And that’s what I do. You asked me how ethics play into my everyday life, and that’s how.

Kindly,
Beth

I hit send.

It’s a Tuesday at 8am.

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into Georgetown University’s Public Relations and Corporate Communications program.

I’m singing “Every Other Time” by LFO at Nellie’s karaoke with Staci in celebration.

And you told everyone that I was gay…okay.

Our mics go quiet. Staci and I look at each other. Oops.

***

He is the topic of conversation between my journal and I as of late. An emotional roller coaster of stories and mixed feelings. Pages written with shaky hands, crooked letters and tear stains followed by pages of sappiness and hand-drawn emojis.

You should publish your story, Beth. Staci encourages.

I compile my journal entries, attempting to piece together what we were. The story doesn’t make sense. It’s fragmented.

He, the man I fell for. I, the one that tried to stay away but couldn’t. The end.

No, it’s more than that.

My hands hover over the black plastic keys of my laptop.

The blue “Publish” button sits in the right hand corner of my WordPress screen. I guide my mouse pad.I am paralyzed in this moment.

Click.

I don’t know what is going to happen next. The uncertainty is nerve-wracking, yet I feel free. 

I feel free.

Thank you for writing this. I can relate. Hugs from Nigeria.

Thank you for sharing your story, Beth. I don’t know you, but you have given me a newfound voice. Thank you. X

***

Can I have a Tanqueray and tonic please? He blows cigarette smoke from his mouth, dressed in a plain gray t-shirt and jeans. He seems to know the staff.

That’s Adriel, he works here too. He just got back from traveling for a month.

I head out the front door to head home after my first training shift.

We’re going to Exiles next door, do you want to come? Oh, it’s him again. He seems friendly.

Sure.

It’s 10pm on a Tuesday. I have work to do tomorrow, but I find myself in the back patio of a bar with a vodka soda in hand and a round of Jameson shots on their way.

I peak around at the rest of the staff that has joined us. I observe the varying personalities. Everybody is so different, holy shit. But it works.

Like a puzzle with a picture that is discombobulated, yet the pieces still fit together in an oddly perfect fashion.

Conversation is loud, whiskey shots continue. I laugh harder than I have in months.

A picnic table filled with my soon-to-be family. My dysfunctionally perfect Local 16 fam.

Editor’s note: Not gunna lie, being totally 110% honest, dead assssss serious u guyz are the best. 😉

 

***

We’re in Newport, Rhode Island. The matching “Aloha Beaches” tank tops are folded in my duffle bag.

I try to forget about the texts exchanged the day before. I work hard. I’m smart. I know these things. This will be a relaxing weekend.

Your value is not always noticed, nor acknowledged by others. I realize this in a string of tears on the front steps of the cottage as night falls. My sister rubs my back.

I’m sorry, I know this weekend is supposed to be about you, I apologize.

It’s okay. Just know your worth, she tells me, know it and own it.

I stand up for myself. After all, who else will?

I learn a dream job is hardly a dream when you lose sight of what your worth. I learn my worth. 

I leave WeWork with my head held high. Onward and upward.

***

I have an idea. A really good idea.

Google, how do you start a small business? What’s an LLC? Can I afford that?

I design my logo. I don’t really know what I’m doing. My entrepreneurial spirit kicks in. It’s me, my laptop and an iced coffee. It’s August. It’s hot outside. The condensation drips from the plastic cup onto my fingers.

I need to send a proposal to a potential client. Welp, this template looks good I guess. Not sure what all of this legal jargon means but whatevs.

I start to receive inquiries from word-of-mouth and email. Is this happening? Am I actually doing this? Am I in over my head?

I’m not sure.

Hi, I’m Beth. Founder and social media storyteller at Socially Attractive by Beth.

beth

***

Staci, can I wear my Birkenstocks? 

Yeah! Who cares? She replies.

I practically live in these glorified Jesus sandals, but how can you not?

Ugh. I debate with myself. I feel like most people are going to show up in business clothes after a long day at work and there I’ll be with my Birks and Herschel backpack.

Do I want to give off the earthy-crunchy vibe? Is there a dress code for this thing? Whatever. Birkenstock’s it is.

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I swipe my card and enter the building. Find your name tag and grab a notebook on that table right over there.

Damn, a leather notebook on day one. I guess I’m getting my money’s worth.

So, I was right. Most people are dressed in business-like attire, but I don’t totally stick out. It’s all good.

Tell us about yourself! We’re going to go around and have people give their name, hometown, and a fun fact!

Icebreakers. I roll my eyes.

I tell everyone that I despise pickles.

“Hey, I’m Evan. I’m from Connecticut and my fun fact is that I was born in Colombia.” A man chimes from the other end of the auditorium.

Turns out four other people in our program are also from Colombia.

Oh my gosh, they all came up to me afterwards and started speaking in Spanish and I have no idea why the f I said that as my fun fact because I don’t speak a lick of Spanish.

We stand next to each other in the circle of awkwardness of strangers and laugh. He makes fun of my Birkenstock’s. I don’t know him, but I have a good feeling about this one.

Meet Evan, the star of my Snapchat stories. The eyes behind all of my top Instagram photos. My fake boyfriend and favorite coffee date.

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***

I’m holding a grudge.

He reaches out, but I ignore his phone calls and e-mails. I don’t remember the last time I we spoke beyond a text that was hardly five syllables.

Ignoring takes effort.

How’s he doing? I ask my sister. I pretend I don’t care that much.

He asks about you a lot, Beth. She encourages me to let go of the past. I tell her I can’t.

The past hurts.

I remember waking up in bed alone with puffy red eyes and a broken heart. I don’t tell her that all I wanted was a hug from Dad. I don’t tell her that I want to fix things because I don’t know how to.

I hold a grudge because I think it’s easier than confrontation. Maybe I’m wrong. I’m not sure.

He continues to reach out, I respond from time to time, slowly opening the door of a relationship that has been in the dark for over a year. His surgery went well. He now has 83% hearing in his left ear. A 60% increase. I tell him I’m happy for him. A smile wipes across my face and a tear falls from my eye.

The past starts to slip from my tight grasp. Light seeps through the door crack.

I remember mornings that he’d make his homemade egg McMuffins on a lightly toasted bagel. Stops at Dunkin’ Donuts on the way home from basketball games.

Extra large extra cream extra sugar for me. Hot chocolate for this basketball star. He pats me on the head. I look up at him and smile.

I choose the good memories.

***

I don’t know if I’ll have someone waiting for me on New Year’s Eve this year. I’m not sure if 2018 will be the Year of Beth or the Year of WTF is Wrong With You????!!??!

Let’s hope the latter won’t be the case, but I don’t know. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that life is a journey of fuck ups, triumphs and unexpected twists and turns. Accept these fuck ups and triumphs for what they are and move forward. Eyes on the prize. 

What’s the prize? I haven’t a clue. But it’s there. My eyes are on it, I’ll tell ya.

2017 was a year full of struggle followed by amazing opportunities. I’ve met the most beautiful (and well, ugliest too I guess) people along the way — a tribe of people that will be with me for the rest of my life. 

I can’t tell you what 2018 holds. I know resolutions are super cliché or whatever, but aren’t they sorta, like, required? Maybe? No?

I’m going to attempt to focus on the present. Focus on the things I can control and change and deal with my emotions however they come. I’m going to work on new relationships, and foster the ones I already have. Let people in even when I don’t think I can. I don’t know the best place to start achieving these things, but I’ll just take it day by day.

I guess homemade egg McMuffins and a hot chocolate from Dunkin’ Donuts on Christmas is a good place to start.

 

***
Catch ya on the flip side, 2017.

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Oh. Maybe I should try and be less basic this year and chill on the Snapchat. What do you guys think? I’m just gunna leave these here and you can be the judge.

 

 

 

Mediocrity.

I didn’t mean to get super personal, but I couldn’t help it.

“What’s your biggest fear in life?”

I hadn’t prepped for this one. I had four pages of a Google Doc typed out, with every possible question I could attempt to predict.

Tell me about yourself.
Why should we choose you?
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced and how did you deal with it?
What skills have you learned that have helped you develop both personally and professionally?
Why do you want to work for us?
What would you say your weaknesses are?

The list continued. I had thorough responses typed and saved as I watched the cursor blink and continue to ask each question I had already answered.

“What is your biggest fear in life?”

I paused, I’m sorry, that question sort of took me off guard.

She laughed. I laughed (nervously). “It’s a loaded question,” she acknowledged, “take your time.”

I was quiet for several seconds. Breaking the silence with an “um” followed by further silence.

Mediocrity. I replied.

She paused. “Can you repeat that? Did you say mediocrity? What do you mean by that?”

Have you ever felt like you’re not living up to the expectations you set for yourself? Like, you know you’re capable of great things, but do you ever wonder if you’ll get to that point? I know where I can be someday, but what if I never get there? 

I swallowed hard and continued…

I fear being mediocre. Being less than what I know I am. 

As a young twenty something with an uncertain future ahead, I fear mediocrity all of the time. I fear always being two steps behind of where I want to be. Always reaching, but never grabbing. Striving, but not thriving.

I have done some great things in my young life, as have you. But, I can’t help but wonder what else is out there for me. I can’t help but wonder if I’m taking the wrong steps, dating  the wrong people, living in the wrong place.

Or worse, being the wrong person.

I can’t help fearing if I’ll ever make it to where I want to be. Career-wise, dating-wise, life-wise.

Success is often measured by the number on your paycheck, but to me, I find myself worrying less about that and more about non-financial fulfillments. I worry about the people I surround myself with, the late night thoughts that flood my brain, the guys I unexpectedly develop feelings for. I worry about never being completely satisfied. But, are we meant to be completely at peace with everything at once? Are we meant to experience ultimate nirvana? Is it possible to be living in your own form of utopia? 

“Life is perpetually creative because it contains in itself that surplus which ever overflows the boundaries of the immediate time and space, restlessly pursuing its adventure of expression in the varied forms of self–realisation.”

Life is creative. It’s unexpected. Daunting, confusing, and beautiful all at once.

Am I just existing?

High school preps you for college (sort of). College preps you for the real world (not really). But once you’re in the real word, what’s next? It’s like suddenly you’re in an abyss of “Am I doing this right?”s with no one to fall back on but yourself.

As I sit on the patio of my favorite coffee shop, my mind is moving in a thousand different directions. To my left lies my phone pinging with work emails. To my right is the overpriced coffee I definitely didn’t need. There are job engine tabs open on my Google Chrome browser, packed full with opportunities that don’t seem to mesh well with me.

I know I’m not supposed to be picky. I know that not all dream opportunities are at the end of a straight and narrow path. Is it normal to wonder if I’ll ever get there?

I draw inspiration from random happenings. My stories are always crafted after the fact; after some deliberation, caffeine, and an inspiring Spotify playlist. Is this what life is supposed to be like? I may not know the significance of a random job or a confusing guy in the moment, but I can only hope it’s part of the windy path that will get me to where I need to be.

Rather, where I want to be.

Tomorrow is my 24th birthday. There is no Taylor Swift nor Blink 182 track to caption my Instagram picture with. *Sigh*. There’s also no guide titled, “Where you should be in life be when you turn 24.” Damnit.

Some friends are in long term relationships, others are still experiencing the stress that is dating different people, like myself. Some have 401ks and pensions, others stuff their closets with cash tips after a long night of bartending. Some are up late studying for grad school exams, others are up late hooking up with a random guy.

Some are content, others want more.

However, I think we all ask ourselves, “What is my forever?” We wonder what jobs we’ll keep, what people are worth investing in, and whether or not that plane ticket is worth splurging on. Most of us have no ties grounding us to one set plan or place, so I suppose my fear of mediocrity is normal and somewhat validated.

Life is a strange mix of people, places, and unexpected outcomes. I’ve never been one to plan, but I find comfort in knowing what’s next. But, yet, I’ve found that the best things always come without warning. I’ve found that the right people and opportunities come at the right times, even if it feels wrong in the moment.

We have the power to shape a beautiful life in the same way we have the power to shape a mediocre one. Not every career decision will be monumental, not every relationship will sweep you off your feet. I guess we have to experience the mediocre to experience the groundbreaking.

Ten years from now, I hope I’m working a job I love, coming home to a guy (or dog, most likely) I love even more. I hope to wonder why I ever worried. Why I ever doubted my abilities. Why I asked myself if I’ll ever make it.

I suppose fearing mediocrity is better than accepting mediocrity as a constant. Right?

So, for now, I guess I can be content with my half broken dresser and sub-par chicken piccata. I can be content with a mediocre situationship, content with feeling under qualified for every job posting I seemed to be interested in. Not every area of my life can be  awesome at all times, but I guess that’s what makes me crave more awesomeness.

I’m not sure if this is where I’m supposed to be at age 24, but do we ever really know? Not sure. I guess we all experience life at a different pace. Interning while some are career-ing (poetic license???). Hooking up while some are proposing. Feeling uncertain while some are at ease.

I don’t know where I’m supposed to be or who I’m supposed to be with.  I don’t know if my answer to the interviewees question helped me land a job or kicked me off the list entirely. I know less about life than I’d like, but then again, I’m only 24.

It’s unnerving, but if you feel the same way I do, thank GOD because that means I’m not the only one. Phew!

Hold onto the confidence you have in your abilities, because in my experience, it’s the confidence that has led me to the awesome life I’ve lived thus far. Even if sometimes it doesn’t feel so awesome.

Crave awesomeness over mediocrity. Crave awesome people, awesome places. You’ll encounter countless mediocre things in the process, but we need the mediocre things to experience the awesome things. You know, the groundbreaking, “this shit is LIT” kinds of things. Strive for the awesome life, but accept that it’s not going to come out of every decision, relationship, or job you encounter. It’s the mediocre that builds the foundation for something killer.

We’ll get there. Eventually.

In the meantime, you can find me attempting to fix my half broken dresser and perfecting my chicken piccata dish while laughing hysterically over this video with my roommate. The little things, you know.

“I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here. I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell.” – Richard Feynman

 

 Just go the f*ck home.

 

“I’ll just have one more,” he promised. “I swear this is the last one.”

I laughed, knowing very well that this was definitely not the case. I pulled the Yuengling handle down and tipped the pint glass underneath.

“So, how many more beers is she worth?” I asked as I placed the beer in front of him.

He had been sitting at the bar for a while, chatting with me about this particular woman whom he had been sort-of seeing for the past month or so. I didn’t mind as I was debriefing about my guy frustrations as well. Continue reading  Just go the f*ck home.

Read this if you’re uncertain about what’s next

So, what’s next?
A question as a young-twenty something I get ALL of the time. Usually this is pertaining to jobs, sometimes it’s after I rant about a stupid guy (happens frequently).

I don’t know yet.

A simple answer that usually leaves people with a confused look on their face immediately followed by a cheerful, “Oh, well you’ll figure something out I’m sure!”

Yeah, I know. 

I’m not one to plan. I act on my emotions and intuitions most of the time which can get me into trouble but I also don’t think trusting your gut is entirely as bad as it sounds.

I will figure it out. 

That was the mentality I had when I moved down in here in August, and it’s stuck with me 9 months later. A lot of people have reached out to me asking about the logistics of my move (money, jobs, etc.). They are usually dissatisfied with my answer as I usually reply with something like, “You just kinda figure it out…”

I understand that for some this may be a tough mentality to embrace. If someone were to tell me that a year ago I would probably laugh and then cry after looking at the minuscule number in my checking account.

The F*CK  you mean, “You just kinda figure it out?!”

Well, you do.

I remember the anxiety of graduating all to well. It was a year ago *gasps*, but getting faced with the question of “So, what’s next?” was something I heard more than my first name. If you’re a recent college grad and you don’t know the answer to that yet, it’s ok, because I don’t either. A year later and I don’t have the slightest clue “what’s next.” And that’s totally cool. Well, at least I think it is.

I recently left my 9-5 job. On good terms, but it just wasn’t the right fit for me.

I know that there is a “next step” but it’s just a matter of giving myself enough time to figure out what that next step will be. And for all you job seekers, you could agree that searching for a full time job is a job in itself– why do I have to upload resume AND fill in your online form outlining everything that my resume says? 

While the mantra in pre-graduation was “make connections, have something lined up, check with your career advisor blah blah blah.” The same things pertains to post-grad life except my career advisor is either my mom or an ex-fling who is decent at resume writing. The expectations remain the same, except the bar is set higher after college because you’re supposed to, like, know things or whatever.

I got too drunk on a Tuesday is no longer a viable excuse (but was it really ever?). 

Anyways, if I was “smart” and following the societal career expectations, it would go something like this:

1. Achieve an entry level job.

2. Work hard. Give it your all.

3. Grow within the company or seek other opportunities.

4. Find other opportunity.

5. Put your notice in, leave on good terms.

Here is mine.

1. Achieve an entry level job.

2. Work hard. Give it your all.

3. Grow within the company or seek other opportunities.

4. Accept that I would like to pursue other opportunities.

5. Not be sure about what other opportunities to seek.

6. Put notice in, leave on good terms.

7. Bartend.

Slight difference. But I don’t see why both are not considered honorable.

I was always told to have something lined up before I quit something, but when something doesn’t feel right, I don’t see the point of staying.

Happiness is numero uno, my friends. Remember that.

To the people who don’t know what’s next:

This is exciting sh*t. A bit unnerving at times, but still exciting. People are going to tell you that right now is the time to jumpstart your career. To figure out the best way to get ahead of the next guy. And they’re right-that is important. But don’t settle for something just because you feel like you need to follow the rigid societal structure for the rest of your life.

Because you don’t.

Living in a city so career-focused, my anxiety about figuring out “what’s next” has been heightened at times. Surrounded by successful politicians, consultants, restaurant owners, etc., jobs are always the center of conversation. People are always hustling to get ahead, hustling to make themselves better in a culture full of extremely motivated people. People don’t just live here. They live here because they work here.

I would assume that the number of 23 year olds who live here without a “career plan” set in place is rare. It’s a demographic that I have fallen into, but instead of stressing over it, I embrace the “you’ll figure it out” mentality.

The best is yet to come. And the idea of that excites me. It should excite you too.

You are a marketable human being. Know that. Own it.

Instead of focusing on what you don’t have figured out, focus on what you do have. So what if you have to serve tables to get by? The service industry has introduced me to some of the greatest people and launched my career towards whatever is next. But why does “next” always have to be defined? It shouldn’t.

I see grad school in my future. I also see a really handsome and nice guy who appreciates all things involving pizza and dogs. Definitely see a plane ticket to a random spot on the map. Perhaps a bionic pancreas will get thrown into the mix too.

Those things will come. Maybe not “next,” but someday.

I’m about to experience my first “resume gap” but I’m as concerned with that as I am with thigh gaps (which is very minimal). Some may read this as irresponsible, but I’d have to disagree. It’s not a matter of lacking motivation, it’s a matter of navigating towards where I want to be the best way I know how.

You can’t focus on getting ahead if your current situation is holding you back.

If you just graduated this past weekend, you’re probably wondering what your 100k slip of paper really stands for besides a lifetime of loans.

It stands for a lifetime of blank pages and unexpected outcomes. New cities, new flings, new chapters, new “WTF was I thinking”s. You’re going to piss yourself off a lot along the way, but there will also be countless days where you think, “I’m the shit,” and truly mean it. Hold onto those days.

If I were to give one spiel of advice to newly graduated seniors, it would be this:

Choose new beginnings. Don’t get trapped into the rigid societal structure- that’s what 22 years of school was for. Do what you love, but know that you might have to do something you don’t love as much to get there. Work hard. Make connections- but not just the career oriented kind. Talk to people. Good people. You’re going to fuck up…a lot. You’re going to choose shitty guys, you’re going to piss off your boss. It’s ok. Just be good people. Character trumps bullet points any day if you’re searching for non-monetary fulfillment.

And that is the most important type of fulfillment if you’re looking to mentally survive the real world…trust me.

You’re not always going to know what’s next, and that’s ok. You’ll figure it out.

…at least that’s the mentality I’m going with so I’ll let you know how I turn out. Fingers crossed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Feelin’ 22 (Wait, How Am I Supposed To Feel?)

I turned 22 yesterday, for those of you who missed the memo on every single one of my social media pages. I’m a birthday princess, sorry.

Anyways, I felt entitled to immediately wake up and listen to “22” by Taylor Swift to live up to the basic b*tch type that I am. As I’m singing along, “I don’t know about you, but I’m feelin’ 22!” I couldn’t help but think, what exactly am I supposed to feel?

I feel like I’m in a constant tug of war with society. One end is pulling me into the “real world,” shoving life lessons down and responsibilities down my throat while the other end is jerking me towards an “I Don’t Give a F*ck” young-twenty-something-YOLO type of lifestyle.

Here’s where I’m at:

I can’t taste the difference between Malbec and Pinot Noir, nor do I really care. Red wine is red wine, and I’ll still buy the cheapest bottle.

I don’t have a boyfriend, but I would be ready for a serious relationship if the right one came along (I think).

I don’t know how to fill out a tax form, and probably will still ask my mom how to in 5 years.

I don’t like getting “white girl wasted” anymore.  Gone are the days of blackouts and toppling over on the sidewalk with $13 Charlotte Russe heels. I’ve made the conscious decision to avoid the adjective that is “sloppy.” (Let’s forget about the 48 hour hangover I had last weekend).

My freshman-year wardrobe makes me want to cringe. Throwing away my completely see through shirts and neon Forever 21 body-con dresses was a liberating day for me. LOFT, J. Crew, and Banana Republic are my new BFFs.

I won’t grind with you. At a bar, at a house party, at a club. Anywhere. The idea of grinding with you brings back memories of juvenile high school dances; with the lights on and me shamelessly dancing up on your junk with my math teacher watching from 20 feet away. No thanks.

I want a tattoo, but I’ll put it in a spot that can be hidden under my work clothes.

I’m essentially broke, but I still plan on moving across the country in a couple of months, even if I don’t have a set job in place. My savings account has been essentially non-existent since my abroad trip (that was a year ago, but whatever), and I suck at budgeting my money.

I don’t know what classifies as “good benefits,” and I don’t really even get what benefits are. If I get a job offer that offers these said “benefits,” my parents will be telling me if I should take it or not.

I’m driven, I have goals, and I’m career-focused. I’d rather stay in on Wednesday, even if I’m supposed to “live it up” as a senior. I’m not wasting my time on shitty guys, and I’m not into “just fucking around,” anymore. I want to have my life together, even if it’s currently all over the place.

Do you see where my problem is? I’m not quite YOLO-ing my life away, but I’m also not going to pass up that extra tequila shot that I definitely shouldn’t have.  I feel as though I’m stuck between two “twenty-something” demographics of how society wants me to act. One is telling me to be a responsible, contributing member of society, while the other is telling me to not give a flying f*ck because YOLO. It’s two ends of the spectrum and I can’t seem to resonate with either.

What am I supposed to feel? Should I travel the world or pay my college loans off first? Am I supposed to have my life figured out or should I drink shit vodka and kiss random strangers? I don’t know. But stop telling me how to act.

In a couple of months, college is kicking me out. It’s sending me into the “real world,” as some people say. I’ll have bills, responsibilities, and challenges that I’ve never faced before. However, how exactly do you define the “real world,” and why are you acting as if my life is completely over? I don’t need to get a real job right away, but that doesn’t mean I’ll continue to party to like I’m still in college. And if I do, who cares? Maybe my taste in guys might get a bit more mature, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop hooking up with random people. That doesn’t make me “sad” or “lonely” because I’m not in a serious relationship yet. It means I’m waiting for one of those random guys to turn into something more. It means I don’t want to settle. 

I’d love to travel the world immediately after college. I would love to fit my life in a backpack and a hop on a plane to wherever without any set plans or destinations. I’d love to go to Iceland, Thailand, and any other -land you can think of. It’s a dream of mine. However, financially, I can’t afford to right away. That doesn’t mean I’ll be wasting my life away behind a cubicle and starting a family immediately. My life isn’t over at the age 22. In my opinion, it’s just beginning. I can travel, and do whatever the hell I want, when I want. And I’ll do it on my own time and terms, not yours. 

The “real world,” is world that we construct for ourselves. It’s not something to fear or avoid, it’s something to embrace. I’m tired of reading articles saying “24 Things You Need To Know Before Your 24,” or “20 Places All 20-Somethings Need To Travel To.” What is so bad about deciding your own fate? Who’s to say I can’t take my future kids to one of these 20 ~*eXoTiC*~ places? Does it make me less of a person if I buy a round of expensive tequila shots when my college loan bill is due the next day? All I’m asking is for you to stop putting pressure on me. Stop judging me based on my age.

Just stop telling me what to do.

We act as though life after our 20’s is a dangerous black hole, and we should do everything we can now, before it’s too late. Does that mean I’m not feelin’ 22? How am I supposed to feel? I don’t know where I’ll be next year, never mind where I’ll be in May. I have some sort of “5 year plan” but I’ve grown to accept the nothing will go the way I’m expecting it to. So, I guess I’m just “doing me.” As you should just “do you.”

Let me enjoy my 20’s, the way I want to.