Making Choices, And Owning Them

I skimmed through an article a Facebook friend shared, 15 Things You Don’t Owe Anyone, and it got me thinking. When I started skimming I was expecting only the blatantly obvious, something like: you don’t owe anyone sex because they paid for dinner. But I was really struck by the items on the list that state that you don’t owe anyone an explanation of your life choices (whether that be relationships, career, appearance, etc.).

It hit me, rather suddenly, that I spend way too much time coming up with explanations. Explanations for my actions, my choices, my feelings. Some of these are explanations that I give to other people, or that I fantasize about giving to people. But most of the time I’m trying to give myself an explanation. I try to justify my feelings and my decisions, as if every little thing that I do needs to be defended.

As I’m finishing up my teacher education program and applying for my first teaching job, I’ve been trying to justify two things to myself:

1) Why do I want to work in that city? The same city that he lives in.

I’ve justified it to myself by reasoning that he’s the only one I know in this geographic area and I don’t want to be lonely. I want to have support, someone to lean on when my first year of teaching gets rough.

Sure, that’s a good reason. And maybe it’s true. At least partially. But deep down I know that I’ve made a decision, and I don’t need to explain it to anyone, least of all myself. I’m allowed to make decisions, even life-changing ones, for whatever reason I want. Or for no good reason at all.

   2) Do I want to be a teacher for the rest of my life? Is it horrible if the answer is NO?

I know so many people who are becoming teachers because they feel that it is their calling in life. They’ve wanted to become a teacher for several years, if not more. But that’s not me. It took me a long time to make this decisions. It was, admittedly, not my first choice career path. And I do see myself doing something different at some point (I will finish writing my novel someday, that is something I am certain about). But just because I don’t plan on teaching for the next fifty years, doesn’t mean that I can’t be a great teacher for however long I do it for. And I don’t need to explain that to my peers or my future boss or myself.

Sometimes in life we do things that don’t make sense and we make decisions that aren’t the most logical. I could spend the rest of my life trying to justify the choices I have made, trying to convince myself and everyone else that I was reasonable in my decision making process. But sometimes the most reasonable thing to do, is to go for what you want. Do what you need to do. Do what makes you happy. Do what you feel is right. Do it and own it and don’t apologize to anyone. Do it and don’t even think about regretting it.

Am I Happy? (Thoughts One Year After Graduating)

Over the past few months I’ve often thought that I’m happier than I’ve ever been before. And in some ways I am. I have a boyfriend for the first time in my life and I’m so in love that I feel like I’m going crazy. When we’re together, I’m having a great time. But are those moments enough for me to say that I’m truly happy?

I graduated from college one year ago and moved home to return to my summer job at the sandwich shop while I looked for a more permanent job. But twelve months later, I’m still here with my parents. Still working in that damn sandwich shop. The only change is that I’m now in a relationship… with someone who is still in college and who lives a five-hour drive away. Some nights, that feels like no difference at all.

I look back at pictures from college and my time studying abroad, and sometimes they make me smile. But a lot of the time they make me really sad. I haven’t seen most of my good friends from college since last August, and I haven’t seen those who I wasn’t as close to since graduating. The random greetings on Facebook just don’t seem to be enough to sustain a friendship, especially when I live too far away to visit.

There was a time – pretty much all of high school – when I didn’t have any friends at all, and I was incredibly lonely. Now I’m back in this town that I tried so hard to escape, and I feel like I’ve lost all of the friends that I worked so hard to gain over the past few years. I have my boyfriend and I keep in touch with two of my closest college friends via Facebook message, and that helps. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but it feels like it’s going in that direction.

It’s like I took fifty steps forward over four years, and now I’ve taken twenty steps backwards in one year.

When I think about college, I think about all that I’ve lost. How I used to live, and how I live now. I miss nights in my friends’ apartment watching crappy movies and spilling red wine on the white carpet. I miss English club meetings on Monday nights, talking about our favorite books and movies. I miss pep band on Saturday afternoons and cheering for our team even though the sport makes no sense to me. I miss late night chats with my roommate about every strange topic imaginable.

I miss it all more than I can say.

But I think I’m finally starting to move in the right direction again. If I’m not happy now, I’m on my way to getting there again.

I’ll be starting grad school in two months, and it cannot come soon enough. It took a long time for me to make the decision to return to school and pursue a career in education. But now that I’ve decided, I’m one hundred percent certain that it is what I want to do – and that it is what I should do.

22 and Still Growing Up

Every day I am learning that there is a lot more I have to experience. And I’m not talking about big milestone like marriage and kids; those are too far off for me to even think about. I’m talking about relationships, career searching, and facing the reality of moving away for real – not just for college.

I’ve always been a late bloomer, but I think this is about more than just that.

I had my first “adult” job interview just the other day. When I woke up that morning I was suddenly filled with dread at the idea of moving to a big city all by myself. And I was a bit perplexed by my alarm.

I lived in England for 5 months, but I’m afraid to move four hours away? Yes! England was temporary, and I always knew that. And everything was arranged through a university, so I had loads of support. Moving away this time would not be the same. I wouldn’t be coming home at the end of the semester. I would be signing a lease, making a commitment, and doing it all on my own.

The interview itself actually went awesome. I bought myself a fabulous interview outfit and felt like I was ready to take on the world. I was invited back for a second interview, but I called them back and told them that I wasn’t interested because the job wasn’t a good fit.

Never in a million years did I think I would be turning down job offers, but I’m still 100% certain that it was the right decision. I’ve never really rejected anything like that. It was terrifying, but also empowering. Yes, I still have a dead-end job in a deli and live with my parents. But I’m closer to knowing what I want and knowing how to go after it.

So much for all my stress about moving to a new city! But it got me thinking about how hard it will be when I move away, and about how difficult it is to interview for jobs in a city four hours away from where I live. Am I really ready to take on a new job and a new city all at once? And does it even matter if I’m ready or not?

Later that same day, I had another wake up call. For the first time in my life a boy told me that he likes me. I know, welcome to the third grade, that’s what you’re probably thinking. But, even though I was anticipating it, I had an adrenaline rush like nothing I’d ever felt before. Thankfully, he did not tell me face-to-face but over the lovely internet (don’t judge, it’s a long distance thing) because I was shaking uncontrollably, my heart was about to explode, and my body temperature rose about six million degrees. It got me thinking, if this little thing feels so intense, what the hell is kissing going to feel like?! And I might just roll over and die the first time we… you know. If it ever comes to that.

I know, this whole post has been rather scatter-brained, and you’re probably thinking “get to the point already!” Well here’s my point: No matter how old you get there is more to be experienced. No one has been through it all. Any day could bring something new. “Growing up” isn’t something that happens up until you’re eighteen (or twenty-eight!) and then stops. Growing up takes a life-time. No one is ever really done growing up. And that’s probably one of the coolest parts of life.