I’m a Little Lost. How ‘Bout You?
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I resisted the urge to turn around and go back the way I came. #decisionsarescary
It’s been a year since I graduated from college and, to be frank, it’s been a struggle. To justify my feelings of mounting ineptitude, I’ve been looking at the past 12 months as my freshman year of adulthood.
(I realize I was legally an adult all four years of college, but my parents were paying for nearly all of my living expenses. If your mom can claim you as a dependent on her tax return are you really an adult? I say, “Eh, probably not.”)
During my freshman year of college, I moved to a different city, met approximately 1000 new people, gained 20 pounds, joined the school newspaper, and realized I was clinically depressed. I then quit the school newspaper, lost 20 pounds, talked to about five of those 1000 people, and decided I needed a second major. On average, I thought about transferring to another school about two times per day. It was a frenetic year. I hated it.
To deal with this new chaos, I concentrated on what I was good at — studying. I could study like no other motherf**ker. Plus my freshman classes actually felt significantly easier than the classes I took my last year of high school. My plan was simple: get amazing grades, major in one thing I liked (journalism), and major in one thing that might make me employable (marketing). The ultimate goal: graduation. My plan was a roaring success; I got through my freshman year and each year after that, while not always thrilling, was easier to handle. I graduated with a great GPA that, I thought, could set me up to do anything. When I donned my cap and gown last May, I didn’t have Kanye levels of confidence but I was approaching Khloe-after-weight-loss levels of self-esteem.
This year, my freshman year of adulthood, has been remarkably similar to my freshman year of college: I moved to a new city, started a new job at an extremely small digital marketing agency, and realized the only thing I was gaining from the job was a headache. I then quit that job, started running every day, and began to devise a new plan.
Here’s where I ran into my problem; my post-freshman year of adulthood plan could not be like my post-freshman year of college plan. Also my post-freshman year of college plan kind of sucked.
My college plan was designed to protect me from failure. It worked. By concentrating on what I already knew I was good at, I didn’t really fail at anything — which, I am slowly realizing, was probably a bad thing.
When I left college, all I knew was that I could passably accomplish almost anything in an academic setting. That’s not a small feat and I don’t want to minimize the effort it takes to graduate; but in my quest to get amazing grades and set myself up for success, I learned very little about what I actually wanted to do. I hadn’t stumbled upon anything I was truly passionate about because I hadn’t explored. I hadn’t pursued weird and unorthodox opportunities because fear was a snake that lived curled around my heart; whenever it sensed the possibility of failure it constricted, only letting up when I gave up. I hadn’t taken college for what it really was: a relatively safe space to make mistakes.
I know I cannot (and should not) create a version of my post-freshman year of college plan for adulthood. For one, I can’t graduate from adulthood. (Well, I guess technically death is graduation from adulthood, but let’s not think about that). Unfortunately, that means I no longer have a definitive goal to guide me like I did in my college years. For now, I am completely and confusingly untethered to anyone or anything. I am unbound by a job, a rent, or a relationship. I am kind of lost.
So I am going to take this unbound, untethered time to fail spectacularly.
I am going to publicly try (and perhaps fail) to run a marathon, to do a stand-up comedy open mic, to find a journalism-related job, to write a script, and to sell some of my art. I am going to fail at so many things. Some will probably be painful, dream-crushing failures … I can’t wait.
I am going to document these potential failures (social media shouldn’t just be shrine to success or a repository for depressing political news), so I’d love your input. What do you secretly think you would be great at, but are too afraid to try? What do you think I should try? Let’s do some things that scare the shit out of us.