I think it’s safe to say that thus far, I’ve spent my twenties in total abject panic about my life. As an overachieving teenager, I made “graduating from UCLA” my number one goal, and so myopic was my focus that I didn’t ever contemplate what would come after college. Ever. Like, not even once. What kind of job did I want? One that required a blazer! What company did I want to work for? One that appreciated that I graduated with two BAs from UCLA, obviously! Where did I see myself in ten years? Married with kids and a job, I guess?
I achieved my life goal at 21, and as I strode confidently across the graduation stage on Kerckhoff Patio, I was blissfully unaware that the world was not going to figure out my path for me – I was going to have to do that myself. And, as scary and upsetting and, at times, humiliating as it has been, I am now nearly five years out of college and, on good days, fairly impressed with where this exploration has taken me. I have been an editorial assistant, sorting through, reading, and ultimately rejecting, manuscripts at a literary agency; I have worked as an osteologist and archaeologist on a cemetery excavation in downtown Los Angeles, becoming part of LA history (for better or worse) and making my father proud; I have taught countless adorable children to love learning and they have taught me to love teaching; I have met and married the love of my life; I’ve interned at places I used to dream about someday only visiting; and all I have between me and my (first) Master’s degree is a thesis of my own (genius) design and a month-long trip to Ireland this summer.
That’s not so terrible, in terms of life experience (it helps to list it out like that). On the good days, when I’m proud of myself, I feel like this:
Which is to say: cool, calm, and full of sass.
However, on bad days, like today, when I’ve had entirely too much time to think about what a huge failure I am (thanks, spring chest cold – you bastard), all I see is a resume that’s all over the place and my status as young, flighty ingenue slipping into the wind. It’s cute not to know what you want to commit yourself to when you’re 21 – having the same reservations at 26 makes you look like a tool.
On days like today, even though I may just be going to work or napping on the couch or Instagramming photos of cats or otherwise acting like a normal human, what I really feel like is this:
Which is to say: not good.