I remember this day one year ago exceptionally well. I realize that isn’t too hard to believe seeing that most people remember their birthdays to some extent, even when alcohol is involved. But this birthday was different. It felt different before it even started. As most of my friends can tell you, I love birthdays. Not even my own, but I think it as everyone’s own personal New Year. That being said, I am NOT a believer in wearing a crown or sash on your birthday unless you are 10, 16, 21 or 50. All the years in between are just not on the same level of importance. Though celebrations are deserved, there is something to be said for subtlety.
Anyway… the idea of starting a new year of your life always felt so cleansing to me. I remember sitting in the living room of my mom’s house, with my beautiful puppy lying next to me thinking “Wow, being 22 was so awesome; I can’t wait to be 23!” I posted a long mushy Face Book status about how lucky I was to have graduated college and get a job that I loved right off the bat. About how I was proud of myself for the life choices I had made that year and how I was finally on the road to being happy.
Well wasn’t that quite the jinx? Within about 12 hours of posting that status I awoke to find the Phillies game I had requested off from work for had been rained out and a phone call from one of my coworkers telling me that we had all just been laid off. Happy birthday, right? As the day went on and I waited for some valiant friends to race to my rescue in the pouring rain, all of the “Happy Birthday, I’m sorry about your job” well wished started to come in. And it was with those first few well wishes that I realized that was going to be the theme for my now 24th year on earth. With those well wishes, the personal New Year seemed a whole lot less bright. And the fresh start I was hoping for, seemed a lot farther away.
“Happy Birthday, I’m sorry”.
That’s a funny statement right? Something so cheerful followed by something so sad? It’s a well intended statement meant only to help me feel better and offer some condolences of my misfortune. But really just reminds me that the misfortune is there. And granted, that day ended up not being completely so horrible. Getting whisked away for some margaritas by some amazing people and hearing from friends I genuinely never thought I’d hear from again definitely helped silence my exceptionally depressing thoughts that day. Also, my company couldn’t make up its mine so I was at least able to spend a few more months slacking off and getting paid for it. But starting from that day, my life kind of just started to plummet into a downward spiral. With a lot of misleading pick ups along the way. With every “happy moment” I experienced, an ominous dark cloud of despair seemed not too far around the corner. As the months passed I saw co worker after co worker get news jobs, find cooler experiences and move on with their lives. I went on numerous job interviews that were either nothing that I wanted, were completely unrealistic or in one instance... not even real. (Yes, I was dooped into interviewing for a Pyramid Scheme. Not one of my proudest days.) I started sabotaging relationships I had worked so hard to hold on to just to grasp at ones that I wasn’t even sure I was meant to be in anymore. And even when I finally got a new job that I was super stoked to jump into, I found myself trapped in a basement with nothing but moldy ceilings, a computer and my thoughts. Which as most people would agree is dangerous in so many ways.
I spent my days thinking about how much I missed my old work friends and what I would give to be laughing my ass off at our lunch table talking about the crazy companies my we had written about that day. I thought about having entire conversations with one another that involved nothing more than a glance. I thought about all of the poor life choices I had made the weekend before and what relationships I had somehow managed to destroy. I thought about how although I really didn’t care about all the magnets, pens and other meaningless products I concentrated on for 8 hours a day, they would somehow make it into my dreams at night. But mostly, I thought about how it would feel to get out.
“Just get out of your chair, leave your cell phone behind, and get the hell out of this place,” I thought quite frequently. The idea of leaving the stress, obligations and heart break that I couldn’t get away from seemed absolutely surreal. I could never. I would never. But for my own good, I had to.
So here I am, 365 days later and 2,726.2 miles away from all those stresses, obligations and heart break in Bakersfield, CA. I am sitting in what is the kitchen, bedroom and living room of the Extended Stay America where I have been living for the past 2 weeks. My own personal New Year has arrived yet again. It is honestly amazing to me how fast this year has gone. It feels like yesterday that I was making that mushy FaceBook status, filled with optimism. And oddly enough, despite the personal hell that I went through in the last year, I somehow feel that way again? How was it possible that despite all the tears and disappointment of the last year, I managed to not only make it out alive, but actually get to a place in life that I WANT to be? I am still not sure of the answer. But throughout this upcoming year, I would like to take you with me in recounting the events that make will surely make what is now my “Mid 20s” filled with both hopefulness and confusion. And in doing so, I want to share in the emotions of those feeling the same hopefulness and confusion that I am. Being 24 is weird. You’re not really “young” anymore but with the changes in this generation, you’re really not “old” yet either. This year I want to find that balance. The balance I’ve been searching for long before this past year even began. I hope to find out who I am and who I want to be from here on. I hope that you will join me in my very bumpy, very sarcastic and very interesting journey. I’ll do my best not to bore you along the way.