August 16, 2012

The highs and lows of being 23.

It's hard to believe that I'm almost 24. Actually, I had to stop and shake my head the other day because I keep thinking I'm already 24. It took me a second to realize that I'm not turning 25. Go figure. Once I sort myself out, though, and remember that I am only 23, it does some kind of surreal that I'll be 24 on Tuesday.

Twenty-three has been a really big year for me. I finished university two days before I turned 23 so, really, it's been a hugely transitional year from my school days to my working days. I never really considered myself a student as a 23 year old, even though I guess I had my real end to student days in November with convocation. Sure, I was a relatively jobless bum for a little while, but it different than when I was in school. This time there was no deadline to when I'd have something else coming up, like more classes, there was just the wide, terrifying openness of the grown up world of working for a living.

Even though it was a bit of a transition it didn't really feel like it. I'd been married for over a year, already, and was no stranger to the world of paying bills and making grown up money choices. I may live in my mother's basement suite but it's not like she looks after me. The only difference between my living situation and that of someone else is that I know my landlord personally and sometimes we wash our whites together.

Twenty-three had a lot of ups and downs in it. One of the high points included the knowledge that Karl and I were both successfully finished our formal educations, mine academic and his mechanical, and we had the paperwork to prove it. Karl got a raise and, several months later, every other weekend off. I got an amazing sounding job that paid more than I'd ever earned before, and even though that dream job eventually became a major speed bump on the road to happiness it was still a valuable learning experience.

I had two rough months in the fall, starting in roughly mid-October and going until half way through December. They were the biggest low points of being 23. I was working a job that was incredibly frustrating and emotionally draining. I was simultaneously being praised for requiring very little training and being criticized for not knowing how to do things I hadn't been taught. I had to take a step back from the earning potential and realize what was really important to me. It turns out, as I've always suspected, that money and a fantastic resume were not at the top of the list; sanity and self respect were.

The irony of that last statement is that burger flipping and grill cleaning ended up being my respite from a very brief stint of unemployment. "Receptionist" was a misleading title for the position I was to hold. Combined with some personal issues, my self esteem was at an all new low for November through December. Walking across the university's stage November 9th had been an absolute high point for me, although it was surrounded with uncertainty. I had left my job the day before, walking out after lunch time. I'd like to say I'd taken my dignity with me but I may have been crying in the elevator. Either way, I was liberated from the crushing weight of my first "grown up job" and, in talking to the other former undergrads, realized that it was okay to be in a period of transition because they all were, too.

My November/December low points ended rather abruptly. I was still dealing with some personal things, but all of a sudden I had completed two successful interviews for a job where they seemed to respect me for walking away from the soul crushing head hunting and the burger flipping receptionist positions. That was a serious high point. It was also, a mere week before Christmas, a legitimate Christmas miracle. I'm going to call that the power of prayer.

Coming out of depressing times, the first real depressing times I'd had in years, was a major high point. I knew that there were valuable lessons to be learned in those hard times. I not only learned a great deal about myself, as an adult, but I also got real life working experience. It was just another example of God's faithfulness. How else do you explain how everything worked out? I needed a grown up job in September. Boom. I got the one I wanted (I had two I'd made second interviews for). I needed a new job to replace the one I'd abandoned. Boom. Within days I was working. I needed a job that had better hours and was not a huge step backwards. Boom. I got this one. All within, I might add, a little less than four months from when I finished classes.

After that things began to improve drastically. I know every year has Christmas, but I'm just going to call it another high point. It really was a time of rejoicing. For new years Christopher and Natalie came out. Visiting with them is always a high point.

High point: going to a smart people conference in February. As a guest. Later that month a friend I'd grown up with got married. Weddings are always high points, especially when you're so happy for the participants. A low point was being super sick during the wedding and the weeks surrounding it. Having to sleep on the couch was a bit of a downer, but it's so comfy I didn't mind too much.

March had one of the biggest highlights, one that we'd been talking about for years. Karl and I went to Disneyland with Christopher and Natalie. Very high point indeed. Not long after that there was a baby to snuggle courtesy of Tim and Larissa. I held a baby that was less than 24 hours old. Major high point. Being invited to the hospital to visit and meet Calvin also gave me the warm fuzzies.

In May I got my eyes corrected. That was a huge high point. I can see without corrective lenses for the first time since I was seven. If you do the math, that's a long time.

This summer I went on a small work trip. It was a high point because it means my boss likes me enough to take me on field trips and I got new experiences. Shortly after that, another friend birthed her wonder baby and everyone was healthy. High point.

Turning my living room into a place that I actually enjoy was also a big thing of being 23. I'll tie that into my domestic genes coming out in me. I'm not sure where I got them. It's been a lot of fun refinishing furniture (sometimes), discovering spray paint, and baking. Seriously, I still question who I am, but making my living space a happier place has certainly been a high point. That's not something I would have ever predicted. Who would have thought that self discovery was still such a big thing as an adult?

I know it's not over yet, I still have four and a half days of being 23 to get through, but it's safe to say that the high points have certainly outweighed the low points, as challenging as some of them were to deal with. I can't even predict what 24 is going to bring, aside from perhaps a desire to sing some Switchfoot (not quite as fun as being sixteen going on seventeen, though), although so far its looking like it will involve very few life changes (I might get a new car). My guess is there will be more holidays to write as high points, more babies to celebrate (not my own), and no low points whatsoever. I can dream can't I? I would also like to go to more weddings because I love weddings and really do just want to drink champagne and dance the night away without having the flu. Not that I really let that hold me back too much.

Barring any impending zombie apocalypses coming in the next couple days I'm going to say that 23? It's been a success.

No comments:

 photo comments_zps824b3be6.jpg