Wait, What’s the Plan?

I’m halfway through my graduate program. I’m more than a year into my intentional real world deferment. I was excited to enter grad school because it was a metaphorical exit from one highway to the next. After being in school though, and puttering around the various sights on this sidetrack, I’m a teensy bit concerned about which route I’m headed towards. I had this grand vision of going anywhere I wanted after school, but now I’m not sure if that’s the best idea for me. There’s a lot of neat stuff around these parts that I would miss a lot.

I remember how sticking to a certain level of comfort drove me crazy. I wonder if swinging too far in the other direction would make me miserable yet again.

Maybe what I need is a happy medium. Maybe what I need is to pinpoint a good (and maybe new-to-me) city where I can connect with familiar faces, but that’s a place where I can jump onto a plane and fly nonstop to PDX and/or SEA. I’m no longer worried about being within driving distance of any “hub,” so that’s a step!

While dreams of working abroad or on the East Coast aren’t dashed (I’m an open book for the perfect job!), I’m thinking that a concentrated search west of the Mississippi will be my best bet. I could see myself in California, or Nevada, or Colorado for a bit. I could see myself long-term in Seattle and Portland, too, and I wonder if those are cities to revisit when I’m growing out of my restlessness.

Everything is uncertain at this point. Life has a way of kicking me to where I’m supposed to be. Who knows–what if there’s a major game-changer?

I guess the best I can do is see where this journey takes me in the next year or so. Oh goodness.

My Transcontinental Quarter-Life Challenge and Whatnot

Roz Savage wrote a recent article, “My Transoceanic Midlife Crisis.” It’s an interesting and somewhat inspiring article in which the author explores her transformative midlife crisis, which led her to row solo across both the Atlantic and Pacific. She’ll tackle the Indian Ocean next month, and if successful, she’ll be “the first woman to conquer the Big Three.”

Now that’s stuntin’.

But after reading the article, I thought to myself, “Thank goodness I had my breakdown and my ‘ah-ha!’ moments so much earlier.” Savage worked for about a decade in a job that was stable and predictable; basically, she took the safe way out to figure out what she wanted to do and didn’t get out of that phase.

When I realized what I was doing was not what I wanted to be doing–months after graduation–I took immediate action. Yes, it was a difficult year and then some that followed, but I had no husband, no mortgage, no set, established life to upset. I had a turbulent life that I proceeded to make even more turbulent.

And it made all the difference.

I’m studying a subject that prompts me to click on a flashlight and scribble down thoughts in a notebook at 1AM. I’m trying to secure an internship for the summer, and it’s stressing me out because there are so many options and approaches to get where I want to be–that’s better than feeling resigned. I’m attending conferences and connecting with people not to get ahead but to push myself to keep learning so I can be the best at what I do.

I said so long ago that I wanted to see the world, and through utilization of my networks (new and old), I am finding ways to make it happen. Someone said to me a few months ago, “I love traveling. It’s too bad I’m at that point where I’m just not going to have time to see much more.” He said that because he was resigning to the working world, making it a burden. I couldn’t have disagreed more, considering where I stand in life.

I’ve only explored the metaphorical tip of the iceberg when it comes to travel or my career or even life. I’m twenty-five years young, and the only things that can hold me back are finances and my own ambition.

“The ocean is scary and it’s daunting, and most of the time I wanted to give up” (p. 23, Savage, 2011). I’m sure we’ve all felt that way; just replace “ocean” with another word like “the job search” or “traveling by myself” or whatever scares you. I’m just thankful I didn’t give up when I wanted to because here I am, two terms into my grad career, with a whole slew of new cities and adventures I’ve conquered, and a whole bunch of possibilities in front of me.

That’s not daunting–it’s beautiful.

Gotta Get Away

About a week and some change ago, I made the decision to get out of town. I had originally thought about going up to Seattle, but circumstances and the recent craziness of my life made me rethink that.

I came to the conclusion that I needed time with Guy Bestie.

Guy Bestie also happens to live in SoCal.

So guess who’s on a plane en route to LAX?

Kicks of Silence

This weekend was so needed.

I got dressed up and went dancing one night. As I have said before, I feel alive when I can just move to music. Nothing mattered–well, except for making sure my dress didn’t ride up too far.

The next day I went to the coast with friends. We found a wonderful cafe with a funky atmosphere and amazing desserts. I had key lime pie, and like everything else on the menu, the ingredients were a local as possible and the food was handmade. It was heaven.

Back in Corvallis, we destroyed our bodies with Dorachos–nachos made with Doritos chips. They were an abomination, I swear, but oh-so-tasty. It was my idea, since I had a bag of these chips and was kind of missing Seattle. (The Cha-Cha Lounge sells Dorachos… under a different name.) I am the ultimate bachelorette, I swear.

Sunday was my day of rest, with the completion of a good deal of homework, followed by dinner with friends. Good laughs were had, as well as enchiladas.

Three of us then scampered away to a local Episcopal church for Compline service. There is something incredibly soothing about Gregorian chants, as well as the premise of “Just sit back and relax.” It feels much more spiritual and personal that way. I want to make it up to Seattle for St. Paul’s Compline services. The last time I was there must have been 2007, when we wrapped up our spring break road trip. Compline there is a totally different experience, with the freedom to lie on the floor or sit wherever one chooses. You get to lose yourself in personal silence as ancient melodies surround you.

I’m still on that personal quest for peace and resonance. This term has not been good for that. I have a lot of repair work to do still, both in personal and interpersonal terms. However, I met with an individual I consider a mentor, and he helped me process a few things, just by letting me talk.

I am in an interesting place in life. When I graduate, I will have the ability to job search wherever I please. I can cast a wide net.

And I hope in doing so, my adventure, my journey will take me to places I never dreamed about.

Peace be with you. And me.

Or... Come at me, bro.

Christmas Day and a Photo Worth 261 Words

Dec. 25th – Christmas Day

Prompt: Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you. (Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters’ Guide to Shooting from the Heart @shuttersisters)

Paris, France – May 2010
Photographer: The Pirate King

Most ladies hope for a romantic kiss photo in front of the Eifel Tower. I hop for a picture in front of the Eifel Tower.

This photo is about me. It’s about the energy and passion I possess in life. It’s about being a little bit quirky and unconventional. It’s about having fun and being my own person. While I did have some romance in Europe, most of my trip was done to prove to myself that, “Hey, I can do this on my own.” I wanted most of my trip to be about adventure, not about how many kissing photos I could get in front of famous landmarks.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t love more of those photos in my life, but it’s good to establish memories that are about myself first. After all, I strive to believe that I’m awesome and complete as an individual.

I’d also like to point out that the photo was influential. After TPK and I took our own jumping photos, several other tourists starting doing the same thing. It was pretty darn fun.
Christmas Day was a success. Spent most of the morning with just Mom and Dad, opened a few presents, and then it was off to my godmother’s house for a Filipino-style fiesta. There was so much food there. I don’t even know where to begin. I’ll just say it was a good thing I had a small breakfast because I was practically rolling myself out the door. Who can resist kare-kare, Filipino fruit salad, lumpia, “yellow rice,” fresh ceviche, and so forth and so on. Oh, and cheesecake– yum.

I didn’t really ask for anything this Christmas, just family and food. I see nothing wrong with this. I mean, I’m sure I’ll see something wrong with it after I find a bathroom scale, but in the meantime, I’d say it was wonderful.

Oh, and if you got a “Merry Christmas” message from me, you should know that none of them were mass messages. It’s way more fun that way.

Tick, tick, tick…

No, that is not the sound of my biological clock. It’s the countdown of my last few weeks in Seattle.

My room is still largely unpacked. I have a U-Haul reservation. I do not know how I’m getting my car down to OR, nor do I know how I am getting back to Seattle for clean-up (and a new phone??) on the 30th and 31st. Nor do I know where I’m staying since I won’t have a bed.

But those are just details. I would rather spend these next sunny days relaxing, reading, having fun, and then cram the stress and panic into one weekend. I would also rather continue to live life day by day, rather than try and fit everything into a neat, tidy plan.

One of my former co-workers composed a very nice blog entry about a similar topic– change. He really hit the nail on the head, and I am now definitely sure I’m not alone in my restlessness. It is such a generational thing, which also explains why so many of us Gen Y’ers go through a Quarter-Life Crisis– our ways of thinking and our dreams don’t quite line up with “traditional” ways of doing things.

For example, after the most recent wedding I attended, I realized that what I want out of marriage is different than other couple’s hopes and dreams. While they may want stable, long-term careers, a house and mortgage, and children, I want someone who is okay with jobs that take us to all corners of the earth while building an impressive resume, renting cute apartments or houses in new cities every few years, and growing through discovery and adventure. Unconvention is the new convention.

I may not fully embrace the unknown yet, but I am getting better at it. I am still learning to let go of the “life plan” notion because that strict rigidity caused my spiral into unhappiness several years ago. I need change. I need uncertainty. I need adventure. And laughter. And companionship.

Life’s a journey, and I fully expect to have the best stories in the very end.