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December 18, 2007

Last Friday marked exactly six months since I left the suburbs of Portland for the suburbs of New York City. I was going to post about this on Friday, but today is the exactly six months since I started my job, and I didn’t want to write two anniversary posts.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to my dad’s cousin, who lives not too far from here in Pennsylvania, and he asked me if I was planning on staying here for the “long haul.”

It kind of caught me off guard, though not because I haven’t been thinking about it, but just because I haven’t really come up with an answer. This year had so many changes for me that I can hardly think about changing things yet again. In the short term, yes, I am staying, but at the same time, I don’t know what the “short term” means anymore.

Thus far, I have had inevitable and identifiable ends to each stage of my life. When I was in middle school, I was preparing for high school. When I was in high school, I was really preparing for moving away to college. When I was in college, I was preparing for my entrance into the job market and real world with jobs and bills and more responsibilities.

But now I’m here. I’m in the “real world.” Tomorrow I’m turning in the forms for my 401(k). I have the job, I have the apartment, I have the car, I have the bill payments, I have only a small amount of debt. I have work clothes, and casual clothes, and gym clothes. The social life and romantic life are lacking a bit, but that’s to be expected and (God-willing) only temporary.

It’s a strange sensation to go from such a consistent momentum of life – moving forward to a goal of making it to the next stage in life: graduation from high school, acceptance to college, passing my classes, getting my degree, finding a job.

And now… now what? How do you keep the momentum when the goals are so intangibly in the future? There is no date for when I’ll get a promotion or get married or buy a house or have a child. I know those landmarks are out there, somewhere, but they aren’t anything I can plan for. There is no graduation from real life, not date on my calendar I can circle for when the next stage of my life is going to change. Maybe this is where all those quarter-life crises come from that I keep reading about. You have all these set benchmarks you’re supposed to meet and then all of a sudden, they stop unless you create them for yourself.

I don’t know if I’ll be here for the “long haul.” I don’t even know where I’ll be after the next six months. I’m not entirely sure if I’m okay with not having the typical life benchmarks that have been handed to me over the years, but I have a feeling that I’ll probably figure it out.


  1. talesofmy30s permalink
    December 18, 2007 11:05 PM

    It comes. Usually later than you expect (at least that is what happened for me). Oh sure, I had the boy picked out early on, but after that, it didn’t happen like I expected. Still hasn’t AND I’m not sure that’s a bad thing after all. (I think you know what I’m talking about there.)

  2. December 19, 2007 2:20 AM

    I know what you mean.
    I have no wise words…just know that you’re awesome and things will continue to fall into place for you in their own time.

    It’s funny–my title was “Ten” and yours was “Six”…..for now, enjoy NYC!

  3. December 19, 2007 3:27 AM

    I’m definitely in a similar place, I graduated from college a year and a half ago. I just had a similar grown-up feeling moment; I committed to stay at my job (which I thought I’d be done with by now) for another year, and signed up to get my own health insurance through it for when I turn 23 and get kicked off my father’s in a few months. I am planning to go to more school, and that thought gives me structure and comfort (and also anxiety!), but I haven’t decided which one yet, and I resonate with the feeling you’re talking about – preparing for each next step in a set system (which was very set in my upper-middle class family that expects/finances 4 year college): high school, college, then whoa? I’m not going back to school after summer vacation? No set structure of what’s next?

    I also am hopefully moving out next month or in Feb. I’ve been living with my mom while I got settled, paid off some of my loans (and hopefully saved enough for some travel too), worked part time to take more classes, and enjoy her presence & my pets’, as well as not having to deal with the stress of running my own apartment. But I think it’s getting to be time to move on (even though there’s no specific structure telling me when)…

  4. December 19, 2007 9:51 AM

    Life is pretty funny in your 20s. Things just sort of happen, and pretty soon you’ve been at your job 8 years. You don’t feel older or even younger. It is pretty hard to get used to the fact that you no longer have tangible goals, so you have to make your own. What things would you like to accomplish for yourself? Where do you want to travel to? Who would you like to work with? It is much easier to go after things when you know what you want, but knowing what you want is the tricky part.

    For now, enjoy what life has brought you. Transition takes time and eventually, you will have a better idea of where you want your live to go. I’m excited for you, and I know there are wonderful things awaiting you!

  5. December 19, 2007 10:09 AM

    I went through that “quarter-life crisis” a little while ago. Never in my life had I been more confused about what steps I should take next until I graduated from college. You’re right, there are no set dates or times for when your next phase will occur. It’s just something you have to roll with and understand that things will just happen. Now is the time in your life that you can be selfish and march to the beat of your own drummer, so to speak. My advice to you is to enjoy your time where you can be alone and do a lot of traveling. That was one of the best things I did before I settled down. It also helped me learn a lot about myself and what I wanted to do in life. There’s no set answer, but I think you have a good start.

  6. December 19, 2007 11:33 AM

    Being a “grown up” sounds like it sucks. I have no advice since I have not even reached “adulthood” yet. My sister seems to be in the same sort of place as you, I am not looking forward to the early 20’s. I hope you find a way to figure it out, or at least find a starting point.

  7. December 19, 2007 10:40 PM

    Have you ever watched the movie “St. Elmo’s Fire”? It is about 6 (or 7?) people who are in that “I just got out of college and entered the real-world….now what?” stage. I am there too. It’s an 80s movie, but I always love it because it really does speak to that “in-between” stage that I seem to be in right now. Sure I have a place to live, and a car, and a job, and insurance, and a 401k…but what now?
    It sucks. But they say it gets better in time.

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