When my good friend Jenny and I let this phrase escape our lips, we know what one another is saying:
“I’m completely overwhelmed with the direction of my life.”
Today is my 23rd birthday! Well, it’s my sister’s birthday too, we’re twins. She’ll be quick to point out that she is older by three minutes, but looks at least a year younger than me. When I celebrate my mature appearance, she doesn’t let me forget that, “when we’re 50, I’ll look years younger than you!” Humph.
I distinctly remember my 22nd birthday. I was freaking out about graduating and if you were to tell me that I’d be loving my job as a Social Media strategist for the Army’s official homepage, ARMY.MIL, I’d probably laugh in your face. It’s not that I can’t imagine working for the military (I’m a proud product of a military family) or that I wouldn’t want a job in social media (what could be better?). It’s just that, a year ago I would have never let a position like this enter my radar. I thought I knew what I wanted.
Graduating and transitioning into “the real world” is hard. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting here being a whiny, narcissistic millennial who’s asking to be coddled and doesn’t understand the value of a hard days work. Having a student loan, a car payment, and opting to live at home until I pay those off has certainly provided me with a VERY clear understanding of the value of a dollar. Despite these “debts” and “sacrifices,” I still consider myself very fortunate and well off compared to many of my peers.
Whats hardest is the glaring reality that nothing at this age is stable, though we are told we can have it all. We’re somewhat fresh out of college, wide-eyed and ready to take on the world, but trusted companies are failing before our very eyes, people our parents age are getting laid off, people our age are getting laid off, and our brothers and sisters are fighting a war halfway around the world.
…but despite it all, us millennials are excited about the future.
I’m so excited about the future, I’m overwhelmed. The lives we are living, and are set to live are very different than any generation before us. My friends and I are not experiencing or following in the footsteps of traditional, “boomer-esq” post-college behavior. Unlike generations before us, we won’t have the same job forever. My friends are scattered all over the world, pursuing their passions, giving back and I can assure you, they’re not doing it for the money (that they’re not getting). The millennial’s and I are out searching for our passions, not our careers.
As exciting and empowering as all that sounds, it’s quite daunting and overwhelming too. It might even bring you to say, “Oh, life.”
How can I pursue my passions, pay off my student loan, move out on my own, contribute to my community, and cherish those around me?
That’s a pretty tall order, but I’m learning to force myself to step outside of this vision and remind myself:
I’m young! Despite the fact that 23 sounds old (I know, I know), I am so blessed to remain excited about the future, even if I cannot have the future I want at this very instant.
Yesterday I had coffee with a friend who’s in a very similar situation. We’re both military brats, living in the same town we went to high school in, living with our parents post graduation and we’re both completely restless.
“We’re gunna be alright…we’re going to be better than alright,” she concluded our conversation with.
I’m confident that she’s on to something.
This year, my birthday present to myself is a pledge of perspective. I can have it all (or at least a good chunk of it), but it doesn’t have to happen overnight.
If you’re more seasoned than I am in this game of life, please feel free to leave me some birthday wisdom.
What was 23 like for you? What surprised you? What didn’t? Any advice?