Note: Someone apparently found my blog with the search terms “cumberpatch oscars” this week. Huh. There’s that.
This is the year that many of my friends and I will mark our tenth year out of high school. I’ve heard some laments of, “Oh, I’m so old now! Where did the time go?” yet I can’t help but marvel at all that’s happened in the past decade.
I moved to the rainy side of the mountains, after enrolling in college. I met great people. I decided to take my major in a completely different direction. I had some adventures. Maybe I even fell in love. I learned to appreciate beer and 80s dancing. I was head cheerleader. I laughed, I cried, I deleted many photos off Facebook because I graduated from college and entered the “real world.” (Not that college wasn’t real–it was transformative, in fact.)
I lived on my own. I experienced depression. I stood crying on the side of the road on Christmas morning when I realized I was snowed in, but I used my distress to my advantage and still made to Wenatchee for Christmas. I decided to take my life in another career direction. My friends got married. I got dumped. I applied to grad school (and was accepted to six out of seven programs). I met someone new. I left the country. I saw places I’d never seen before. I rediscovered my love of airplanes. I learned how to take a subway and navigate countries where I didn’t know the language all that well. I came home. More friends got married. I was deceived and left alone again.
I moved to another state, which wasn’t quite as drastic as another country. I met new people. I learned new things. I worked. I chose partners who weren’t ready for someone like me, but we still had some good times. I lost my father, but I knew he would have told me to continue doing great things. I traveled to the opposite coast for a conference. I finished year one of graduate school. I traveled to another country, this time one with sun and blue seas. I came home and lived in my hometown for the remainder of summer. Friends kept getting married. My mom met someone new. Classmates had children.
I started looking for jobs. I created a portfolio of work. I immersed myself in internships and papers. I quit going to the gym. I spent too much time at Happy Hour, but “too much time” can’t be measured against the company I kept and the stories we shared (and the broken glasses and scolding words the waitress gave my friends). I defended my portfolio. I went to more conferences. I got my first higher education job. I moved to a city I admired. I met more people. I began to work with students in a full-time professional capacity. I received my Master’s degree.
I decided I was too fat, so I joined a CrossFit gym. I didn’t cry, but I couldn’t walk for several days. I traveled to different states. I tried online dating. I had a nice, straight-forward relationship. I realized we weren’t a good match. I broke up with him. I devoted more time to the gym. I visited my friends up north on weekends. I learned new skills. I traveled to more states. I had my first workshop accepted at a national conference. I came in second or third or maybe fourth in a dating race, and that was enough for me to swear off dating for several months.
I needed more time in Seattle, so I started looking for jobs up north. I deliberately spent the summer single. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. I found a new job. I left people I loved who I would visit on weekends as much as possible. I moved. I met even more people. I joined a new gym. I presented at that national conference. My friends and family members got married or had kids or got new jobs or bought new houses.
As for me, I’m not sure what happens next. I’m being forced to move into a new house, and the competition is fierce. I might be living on a couch for a bit. I might be looking at PhD programs, but not for a few years. I might be fighting Sallie Mae over my student loans, which aren’t even really that bad, but they’re enough that sometimes I feel ashamed, even though the work that I put in to both my degrees was priceless (and I do fully believe that). I want to travel to many more countries. I want to write more, and cook more, and spend more time in the gym. I want to meet even more people.
I finally let go of the loneliness that had plagued me since junior high and high school. I don’t feel the urgency in finding someone. I don’t graffiti my blog with sadness over being on my own anymore. I feel it sometimes, on cold nights especially, but it is not painful nor crippling; it is just my current state of being.
Somewhere in the last ten years, I became my own person, and I became enough for me. Everything I thought I needed was just something I was too afraid to do myself. The traveler. The writer. The fitness junkie. The cook. The person who appreciates great food and drinks. The funny one. Even the one with great hair and the one with a good smile. The smart one.
These weren’t partners I was searching for. It was me I was searching for the whole time; I had it wrong. Even though I don’t have the house or the husband or the shiny new car or the kids (or even the pets) that suit so many other people so very well–and even though my current situation is a little bit more turbulent than expected–I can tell you one thing about the last decade:
I learned how to be happy being me.