Sunday, April 18, 2010

Some Sunday night ramblings on getting old and losing your sight (and not the eye kind)

Fighting off the tail-end of this stubborn cold while struggling to manage a demanding full-time job and 25-hour/week intensive internship, myself and my brain are not in their most coherent forms; hence my cautious warnings if this post does in fact turn into a sunshine-and-Sudafed-induced rant of hysterical heights. However, important things have been happening and there is a need to flush them out, here, so that I may be held personally accountable for all the opinions and proposed solutions I adhere to them.

The most important thing that's happened in my little tiny life this week was the change in duration of my current work appointment. What had begun as a 2-month temporary stint has now been extended to last a full 12 months. Now, my admission to this next part may ruffle some feathers, but I'm saying it anyway: because  the second that sheet of paper was slid across the table to me, and I saw in bold, black letters my projected end-date, my stomach dropped so fast I think it may been ended up in a pool at my feet. The idea that I would technically, for all intents and purposes, be at that job, in that office, with those people for that long felt terrifying. While a far cry from a prison sentence, in that moment, it may as well have been because I saw all my whimsical plans, the ones that had been getting me through the first month of this job - new professional opportunities with organizations I actually liked, job fulfillment, travel - float away on a grey storm cloud.

Something else happened that caused me to take sufficient pause and write this wreck of a blog post. Today I realized it was April 18th. As in beyond mid-April. As in almost May, which would mean that this "new" year that's no longer so new is in fact a third of the way done. That was scary.

Then I realized that this year - and time in general - had been literally slipping through my fingers, which led me to the subsequent realization that I was experiencing one of those quintessential adult dilemmas: the where does the time go? dilemma. And that realization brought me to the next and final realization of the day: I am an adult. And, yes, that too was scary.

But both of these events/realizations can be traced back to the same idea: that is, of becoming an adult and the subsequent fears that are triggered by that idea. I think it's a little different for everyone, this aversion to growing old. For me, it's the fear of first being stuck somewhere in a job/relationship/life that you like well enough to begin with; and then getting stuck there, like getting stuck in quicksand - only it's not quick, it's sluggish and slow so as to keep you benevolently unaware of the fact that you're becoming stuck. Until suddenly you realize it: You are stuck in a spot miles from where you thought you'd be, and you can't even remember how you got there in the first place because you are so far past the point of return, and it's all so ironic and maddening; how you had become so content, so comfortable with the very surroundings that were pulling you gradually, deliberately down.

Maybe this is the fear that is driving me to change my hair color every three months, or why I frenetically imagine myself at a new job just three weeks into starting one, or why I've lived in a different city every year for the last five years. Maybe it's the inherent restlessness of being 23 - not old enough for the big commitments, not young enough for the impressed structure of school or parents; or maybe it's a trait programmed into my DNA, like impunctuality. Whatever it is, I'm old enough to know that it just won't do to ignore these fears, that instead they might be used for constructive purposes: to imagine, plan for, and create a life that doesn't make me want to run away, a life in which staying in one place won't mean being stuck in one place. For now, my job is just another stop on my way. As long as I've got dreams to remember, that's quite alright.


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