Soon I’ll be 30 years old

…as in this week I am very aware of how quickly life goes by sometimes. Life updates: I got an apartment and started my job! The apartment was in the nick of time, of course. It’s simple and has what I need and was available to move in right away, which is pretty much all I wanted. Because apparently you need a permanent address for a lot of adult stuff like job paperwork and a driver’s license, etc. Once I have furniture the apartment will feel much more like home, but for now at least it’s a place to put groceries and rest my head (and watch Netflix because I set up WiFi like a boss). This past week after arriving in Nashville was a whirlwind. Thankfully, I have friends in town that I’ve been able to spend quality time with, and who have helped me with the moving process. I can’t imagine making a transition like this without having a network already in the city. Props to all of you who have done that or who will do that. Just as valuable has been my family back home, always available for advice over the phone and moral support about these new experiences on my own.

Even as I celebrated moments with friends and tried to soak up the final weekdays when I wouldn’t have work, the fact that people and places come in and out of our lives struck me again and again. For me, both people and place hold strong weight in my understanding of life. I attach memories and emotions to places and people and feel comforted returning to them or even just taking time to think about them. I find this to be a challenging trait at times, because we can’t totally depend on people and places to provide us the comfort and reassurance we might be seeking. And yet, I don’t think we are supposed to go through life without making those connections and depending on people at times, because there are ways others can love us that we can’t love ourselves. I’m not sure if that make sense outside of my own head, but I’m sticking to it. Anyway, right now I’m feeling hyperaware of the fact that seasons of life can be really short, or at least feel that way. Right now of course it feels like this transition is taking forever, but I’ve only been sleeping in Nashville for 8 nights. Right now I can’t wait to live in a real house and get a dog, but one day I’ll be looking back on this simple, single time and wish I could go back. Right now I feel really young and clueless at work, but a few years down the line I’ll be surprised at how quickly my career goes by. When I’m 30, or 22 for that matter, I won’t be able to comprehend how the time went by but things like paying bills and doing taxes will be old news.

This week, I’ve been more of a social butterfly than I was probably in the whole past year, because somewhere without meaning to I became a person who reaches out to others to hang out. Something about being on my own, facing the fear that starting a full-time job after college brings (hello, this is potentially and hopefully where I’ll work for a long time, and the most time I’ve ever spent at a full-time job in college was during the summer, so the next step was always in sight), transformed my perspective on relationships and free time. In college, I was so selfish with my free time. I would use introversion as a reason to not make plans with people, sometimes hoped for an excuse to cancel plans, and justified my alone time by looking at how many meetings and work hours and studying hours I had in the week. It’s not that I regret how college was- I made tons of memories with amazing friends and the student organizations I participated in and became a leader in gave me a lot of joy. Also, having rest and alone time is so important for physical and emotional health. It’s just that in hindsight I can see how many more moments with friends I could have embraced while we all lived in the same 5-block radius. Now that I’m practicing making plans with people and not hoarding my off time (so far I mean… but it’s only the first week of work) and showing interest in what my friends are interested in, I see how easy it is and how much it pays off in the enjoyment I receive from it. I honestly sometimes see spending time with people as kind of draining, just because making plans takes work and then keeping up conversation can be hard depending on who I’m with; but once I’m with people, it’s actually so effortless to be in the moment, and I feel happy if tired at the end of the day.

I feel like maybe in feeling out being more social I’m still shaking off some of the dust of being a shy child and always sticking to a small, close-knit group of friends. I mean, freshman year of college I really only invested in one best friend. And that was great, we had so much fun that year, but there were also so many other friendships I didn’t pursue like I could have until the next year when that one best friend was removed from the picture. Unfortunately for me it took an instance like that, where the person or circumstance I had been depending on to be there all the time, where I didn’t have to make any effort and just automatically had someone to eat lunch with or watch a movie with was not there one day. As hard as it was to have the comfort of that one best friend removed, one day it was like I had finally dropped the blinders on my peripheral vision and I could see all of the other friends I had made that I had not put any effort into spending time with or really letting into my life. Then, I gradually made plans with people and made new memories and it led to having one of the most fun and busy years of college my junior year. I also realized that I can get hung up on wanting all of my friends to like each other and want to hang out together. It’s really okay if some friends you like hiking with and other friends you like cooking dinner with- there is enough time in the week/month/year to get your time with each person.

After spending time this week with many friends in many different life places, I kept thinking about where we’d all be in ten years and getting sad that we’d probably be spread out around the world. I realized as much as I might wish I could make a little colony where all of my friends and family live within a half hour of me, that’s just not the way life works. I think the world was made as big and as small as it is for a reason. There are so many corners you can visit and where your people can visit or live that bring reason and purpose to each of our personal experiences. The time we get to spend with each friend or family member or even significant other along the way may be way less than we want, but as Dev said in Master of None, some people are there for a reason and some are there for a season. From where I stand right now, I think reason and season are both great reasons for people to come into our lives. Sometimes you’re in a place where you have some big lesson to learn about relationships or dependence or trust, and a person or multiple people enter your life and either teach you about that by example, or in the more common alternative, challenge you in that department which then forces you to learn a lesson. Other times you are in a place where maybe your cognitive and emotional energy are focused on something besides relationships, like school or work or something, and you need people to come into your life just to be there, for the season when you maybe can’t offer as much as a friend. I’m not sure if that comes across as too harsh or calculated, but I feel like one reason (season or reason) for a person being in your life doesn’t necessarily have to be better than the other. They’re just different. I wish so badly, though, that everyone who brings us joy could stick around and hang out for much longer seasons and that we’d find reason in each friendship. Because eventually with every relationship in our lives we reach that point of understanding that we’re out of time, or maybe we ran out of time a long time ago and didn’t accept it. Life just keeps moving forward, other friends and loved ones fill the gap or form a new space in your life that replaces the other or helps you forget that it’s empty.

It’s that point, really, that’s giving me pause this week- that life keeps moving forward and things keep shifting whether we want them to or not. Right now, I’m okay with them shifting, because I feel like there’s so much more to see and experience in the years ahead of me, and I want to be open to that instead of afraid. I’m really grateful for the friends I’ve gotten to keep around who I connect with on a deep level and feel we’ve created an understanding that takes mutual experience and time to form. I’m really grateful for the newer friends I’ve gotten to spend more time with in the past week than I did throughout college, who have presence and wisdom that I need at this moment in life. I’m really grateful for my new coworkers and the encouragement they’ve given during these first couple of days on the job that only people who have experienced what I have and will experience in this position can genuinely give. I’m grateful for this moment of life I’m in- living alone, sleeping on an air mattress, training hard at work, making tons of plans with people (relative to previously), and that it’s a single pixel within a huge picture of this experience of starting independent adult life. I’m ready to keep moving forward, to have a routine and to feel confident at work. But I’m sensing the value of this in-between, transitory feeling where my feet aren’t quite planted in my spot yet. Despite still feeling unsettled, I’m feeling free today from fear and doubt, and that’s something huge to celebrate.

Song of the week: Breakaway by George Ezra

Book of the week: LOL I haven’t been able to sit still and read

Advice of the week: Pay attention to what brings you comfort and rest in moments of stress or uncertainty, and go out of your way to do those things. You deserve peace and other people will admire you for being empowered to do what’s best for your well-being.

Goals for the week: Keep breathing, embrace the happy moments

 

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