In my last entry, I posted the following quote because I initially just liked how it sounded.
“You have exactly one life in which to do everything you’ll ever do. Act accordingly.” – Colin Wright
But during a five-hour drive home from visiting a friend in Charleston on Sunday, I had lots of time to think. And when Laura has lots of time to think, the hamsters don’t stop on the mental wheel if you get what I’m saying. So I got to thinking about that quote and how it applied to my life where it is right now. This has been on my mind for awhile but I broke down and finally decided to write about it. So let me start with a question.
Do you ever feel like your life is just, well for lack of a better word, unfulfilling?
Now before you go grab some Xanax to give me and make the assumption I’m crying in a corner, know that I am happy. I have a great job as a writer at a Fortune 500 company. I have an awesome family and am the lucky daughter of two parents who are still married and in love after 28 years. I have the best friends a girl could as for (no, really) and a pretty stellar boyfriend. Oh and a cute cat.
But regardless of all this, lately I’ve just felt bored, routine and somewhat useless. Again, not throwing a pity party for myself, I know I have a lot to offer. But my eight-hour work days sitting in a cold cubicle (insert obligatory Office Space quote here) leave something to be desired. Ever since I was a kid, I had dreams of working Madison Avenue style, with my Starbucks coffee in hand, taking the elevator up to the 27th floor at my Manhattan office where I worked as an editor for a major newspaper or magazine. In reality, I work on the 8th floor of my Atlanta office where I work as a copywriter and drink the free coffee from HR because I’m too broke to buy Starbucks. And that’s fine. My Madison Avenue dreams will take time, this I know.
But I envy those people that said screw it and decided to take a year (or more) after college, be completely irresponsible and live abroad or move to New York City without a dime in their pocket. I was so focused on finding “that perfect job” (guess what, it doesn’t exist) that sometimes I feel like I missed out on the opportunity to do something extraordinary with my life. Not that my life is ANYWHERE from over, but I feel like I missed my prime years to do it.
I know it’s not too late. In fact, this morning as I was brewing up the idea to even write this post, I spent my morning that should have been taken up with writing about chair silhouettes and the latest patterns in fabric researching work opportunities abroad. Everyone has always told me “do it now, before you get tied down.” But in a way, I do feel as though it is too late. I just started my job four months ago, one of my best friends is moving here in 3 weeks and just today got approved for an awesome apartment in downtown Atlanta. “Why hadn’t I done this earlier?” I keep thinking, and kicking myself for. Why didn’t I join the Peace Corps? Why didn’t I go live with my great aunt in Greece for a year? Was finding a job really THAT important? I know several people who gave up their “big city” dreams to go do something crazy like work abroad or backpack through Europe. But I keep making the excuse that their rich parents probably funded it or they have a second cousin-once removed who got them a connection.
But the truth is people every day go out and decide to really LIVE. They discover who they are and what exists outside of the bubble they see every day. So why can’t I? Why can’t my life have more meaning than what the newest color will be for fall or what sofa will look best in a colonial-style home?
That brings me to another question (if you’re bored, I promise I won’t be offended if you choose to scroll down to the bottom where I make my point). Do you ever feel like we’re here to do something more than just enhance OUR own careers and OUR own families? In talking with my friend this past weekend who is a nurse made me think. While she was explaining how she gives life-saving medicine to ill children, or shares a laugh with a little girl afflicted with cancer, I was telling her how I write about what designs look best on white walls and how I have more to learn about color theory. WOW. I just sound stupid.
Not that I couldn’t do what she does, I probably could. I kick-ass at memorization and doctors are hot, right? Kidding. But seriously. I work in advertising. I essentially bullshit for a living and tell people they should buy furniture, even if I hate that God-awful sofa. I’m not HELPING anyone. This is the part where my conservative father would come in and tell me to stop being such a liberal hippy. Sorry Dad.
I also dreamed of working for the New York Times and traveling to Uganda to report on child nutrition deficiency or record my views of the latest Middle Eastern war while the bombs fell behind me. I wanted to use my talents to inform others and hopefully elicit an emotional response so they would take a stand on the important issues. Now, I write about the romantic charm of white-washed wicker on a dining set. I enjoy it, I do, but who am I helping? No one. Who am I satisfying? Myself? Not really. I envy my boyfriend who is a pilot (first officer) for Delta airlines. He spends his days 37,000 feet in the air jumping from city to city and will eventually see the world. He says it’s not glamorous. To me, it beats sitting in a 8×8 box staring at a computer screen all day.
OK, now that I’ve rambled on, let me ask my third and final question: IS IT JUST ME?
Am I the only one who feels dissatisfied? And for all of you who are tempted to say I “just need to find Jesus,” well after growing up Episcopalian, attending a Baptist school, a Legionaries of Christ school and a Roman Catholic school, I think I know the man pretty well. Maybe it’s my impending 25th birthday coming up in 3 weeks (NOW I’m crying in a corner), but could John Mayer have it right when he describes his “quarter life crisis” and asks if he’s “living it right?” Are we all just unfulfilled, suck it up, go through the motions of life and die?
“This phenomenon, known as the “Quarterlife Crisis,” is… unrelenting indecision, isolation, confusion and anxiety about working, relationships and direction is reported by people in their mid-twenties to early thirties who are usually urban, middle class and well-educated; those who should be able to capitalize on their youth, unparalleled freedom and free-for-all individuation. They can’t make any decisions, because they don’t know what they want, and they don’t know what they want because they don’t know who they are.” Read more.
Or does it get better? Will I eventually stop being envious of those people that went to live in India and gave up their dream job? Or will I one day be happy being that Madison Avenue career woman who can now afford a $4.75 grande mocha skinny iced latte? Or could I still do both?
How do you feel? Do you wish you had taken the “crazy, irresponsible” move or are you happy being routine and complacent? This girl needs some enlightenment. And no, not from Jesus.