The below is a message I sent to a friend from high school a month after I moved to the city and two months after I began my first “real” job. I saved the conversation because she told me I should since it was well written. It occurred to me that it would fit in well with all of my posts here, since I’m often writing self-reflecting pieces. It’s amazing to look back on what I was feeling then, and compare it to what I am feeling now. All I can say is that things have improved, and I’ve grown up a lot in the last year and a half since I wrote to her.
(I’ve deleted names from the message for others’ privacy, so whenever you see ____ it means there was a name there.)
I’m good. We’re settling into the apartment okay, _____ and I. We still need a couch and a table to make it really be home, but until then we have a card table and folding chairs.
Work is good, it is more the idea of work that I’m getting used to. I think this is a hard transition for me, more so than college or study abroad was, because this is the moment I’ve been waiting for for (not to be cliché) my whole life. I always wondered what I would be when I grew up, and now I sort of feel like I have grown up, and I’m trying to see if my life matches up with my dreams and expectations.
I think part of what is hard is that I promised myself I’d never work in an office. The reason – because when I was very young, in preschool, I saw my mom dressing up differently and poofing her hair and painting her face and putting on pointy shoes to go to work every day and I thought it was stupid. I think I also didn’t want her to go to work, and so rejected her job, wishing she would instead stay home.
So now I wonder, am I okay where I am, or have I given up on some dream that I forgot. Another… issue… I’ve been facing is how to be excited about things I ought to be excited about. I mean, I’m living in my first apartment in the city next to the subway, I’ve got a boyfriend, I’ve got friends in the city, so I should be drinking up this experience, right? But instead, I feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience, where my body is living on auto-pilot and my mind is somewhere else over-analyzing my whole situation and reason for existence. Basically, instead of enjoying what I’ve got, I’m over analyzing everything in my head and missing the moment.
It’s weird though, because I had this problem in college…. this weird ennui (and I think ennui is a really appropriate word for what I mean). It happened sometime near the start of college, when instead of being happy about things, I became aware that the moment was happy, and if I was happy, it was because I new the moment should be happy. The same goes for exciting moments.
For example, it’s senior year, and I’m sitting with a group of friends baking cookies and listening to broadway music. My friends that are into broadway are singing along and doing so in a funny way. We all laugh and smile, because what they are doing is silly, and silly is funny, and here we are eating sugar and being silly after a hard week of studying/clubs/and work study jobs… and I’m laughing because I recognize it’s funny, and I’m smiling because everyone else is smiling and that is infectious… but when I leave at night and walk home to my dorm, I’m not smiling anymore and I’m not chuckling to myself. I’m just walking alone at night looking at the position of the moon, surveying the area for any forest animals, and wondering if my night really held any significance in any sized scheme of anything. I’m not sad, I’m more like, temporarily satiated and naggingly unfulfilled.
But I thought that was college, and I didn’t know my path in life, and things were supposed to be like that. I thought when circumstances changed, so would my thought pattern and mindset. Then, things did change. I realize now something I knew before but forget in this instance, that emotions and thoughts don’t change from the outside, they change from the inside. So if one is sad, winning the lottery changes nothing. If one is truly happy, a tragedy won’t bring her down. And if my life doesn’t feel as meaningful as I need it to feel, then having a job and a boyfriend, and a city life won’t alter my perspective in the slightest.
That is what I have been trying to explain to people for the past month, and have been told many times that I just need to adjust. That this is a hard transition and I need to settle in and then reevaluate. I am settling in, so I suppose I do need to wait a bit longer before really having an opinion on my life… but still.
Everything is more than fabulous in my external world, it’s my head that’s malfunctioning. My new goal is to try to start a new pattern of thought about my life, because I think I’ve fallen into a poor pattern of existential introspection and reminiscing. And I think I’ve read too much philosophy, thank goodness I wasn’t a philosophy major!
On a more positive note, yes, fall has begun! I’ve been doing fall things like apply picking and drinking cider. I do miss doing those things at home, though, it’s a bit different in the city, the apple orchards get very crowded. I have a list of things I need to do this fall, and while I’m living here. I want to hit up all the museums, for one. I am also planning on going to the King Richard’s fair for the first time with _____.
I need to stop typing and go to work now, but I can give you a more exciting update on my life (all the things I’m trying to be actually excited about). In the meanwhile, how are you? And thank you for keeping in touch!