I am a work in progress

I am a work in progress

It’s been over a year since I graduated college, moved back home, went unemployeed for over half that time, borrowed too much money from my parents, moved to a new city, started a new job, and began this thing called, “adulting.”

It’s been over a year I told myself I would give myself a break from theatre (participating, not seeing), to give myself a chance to understand who I am outside the performing arts.

It’s been a year ago since I really felt like myself.

Maybe it’s my crippling anxiety and depression but let me tell you, nothing prepares you for life outside the bubble that’s college. In college, you’re surrounded by the same people, places, entertainment and expectations. Now, in adulthood, effort to keep friendships is even harder, saving money becomes near impossible and fulfilling life-long aspirations become more of a dream than a promising reality.

Maybe it’s just my journey where I feel this way but seriously, like “Dear Evan Hansen” puts it:

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To put it as eliquently as I can… Adulting is hard, and I’ve learned it can be really lonely.

For one, I’m a social butterfly. Think of it like Tinkerbell: I don’t need attention, I need people in order to live. I enjoy my alone time and doing things by myself but it’s not the same as actively feeling lonely.

I live for the personal connections we make in this world. We’re nothing without the people we hold close to us: family, friends, mentors, coaches, teachers, directors, you name it. Those are the people who make us who we are today. Even that, I haven’t been able to see all those people who mean the most to me as often as I’d like.

But for over a year, I’ve put a lot of what I’ve wanted on the backburner. Any dreams I once had have gone out the window. Any expectations I had for myself and my future have disappeared. I don’t look forward to really much anymore, except when I see a show or the chance I do get to see my friends.

In the beginning of the year, I left my home in Ithaca, in the comfort of my best friends and my family, to move three hours away into the unknown to take this chance. A chance to start over, become someone instead of something.

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It’s been almost seven months and the most exciting thing I’ve done is see almost a dozen shows. I’ve seen my friends in Buffalo, but since I work weekends, it’s a rare adventure now. I’ve seen my friends in Ithaca, but we haven’t all been together since March before I started working. I’ve crossed shows off my list, but I haven’t been a part of the theatrical process since Playground last summer. I have a job that pays decent for what it’s worth, but I’m in a never-ending loop of getting up, going to work and then coming home to sleep.

There’s no excitement. There’s no fire, spark. I don’t really have that purpose in me anymore. I’m lonely, I’m lost, I’m struggling and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

Maybe I haven’t been the best of friend, maybe I haven’t reached out like I usually do, maybe I’ve kept all of these feelings to myself because to me, I just feel like I don’t know how to handle this whole adulthood idea when everyone around me does. I feel like I’m behind everyone who’s much more successful than I am at this point in life.

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I’ve become what I’ve feared the most; a failure. I’m only 24, I know I shouldn’t be feeling this way, but here I am.

Now, I’ve always been behind everyone else my entire life. Newest trend? I got into it after it was a thing. Supposed to be reading at a fifth grade level? Whoops, I’m reading at a first grade level. Discovered a new hit song? Well, it’s been number one for over four weeks now. Should be getting a job related to my field of choice like my friends are? Nope, I’m no where near that.

No matter how hard I try, I am always four steps behind everyone else. I’ve always have, and I’ve grown accustomed to maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.

If you’ve kept reading thus far (thank you!), I promise, I’m not here for pity or anything like that. I’ve been feeling like this for quite some time and since speaking from the heart can be the trickest to articulate, I’ve found comfort coming back to my writing. Finding that one security of putting my feelings and thoughts out there that maybe, just maybe, someone else is in the same boat as me. That I can stop feeling like I’m alone in this huge world.

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I’m trying to find that passion within me again, but it’s only getting me so far when I’m stuck living the same reality each day. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places, maybe I haven’t really started over like I’ve planned since this whole year began.

I’m an ambitious person, when I have my mind set to something, there’s no changing it. I find that to be one of my best qualities. But when you don’t have anything set as a goal, where do you go? How do you start?

Something has to change. My job? Maybe. My aspirations? Probably. Where I am? I don’t know.

Maybe this is what rock bottom feels like. Well, if I’m at this so-called bottom, I can only go up from here. That’s the first goal, going up!

Hey, look! We’re already making progress.

Three weeks out of school – so what’s next?

Three weeks out of school – so what’s next?

Well, I finished college three weeks ago now. I know, scary.

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All I’ve done thus far is cry over the overwhelmed feeling inside me from all the things I had (and still have…) to unpack from school, I’ve moved back to my college town for the summer a week after graduation, start my summer employment and have binged watched three, going on four seasons of “Shameless” in five days.

I only hold a little shame. No pun intended.

But I keep asking myself; what’s next? And to be honest, I’m not too sure.

I can only imagine how many times parents and guardians say, “What’s next?” repeatedly to their recent college graduates. If I got a dollar for every time someone asked me, “What’s next? What are your plans?” I could pay off all my student loans.

I just spent the last five years in this little bubble, changing my major too many times for me to really know in my indecisive brain what I want to do. I have to figure out some sort of idea before Nov. 13 as that’s when my grace period for student loans stop and the real “adulting” begins.

That is a lie. Being an adult began the minute I walked down the ramp at graduation.

I studied theatre in my undergraduate career and most of us in our various, respected programs know what we want to do, where we want to end up and are determined to figure out the steps along the way.

I don’t know what I want to do or where I should end up.  I don’t even know where I fit into the theatre realm anymore. I love theatre, it is my home and has been my world for so many years I could never say goodbye to it. My aspirations, goals and interests have changed since I started studying communications and began my journey as a journalist. I can’t ignore the signs that lead me to new opportunities and knowledge I’m hungry to earn.

For the last year, every decision I make derives from the, “eh, we’ll wing it,” approach. I’m proud to say the “winging it” mindset hasn’t failed me yet! Check back in a few months, I could possibly (read: most likely will) have a different answer to this approach.

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In all seriousness, I don’t know what I want to do. I’m not sure when I will find the answer, or if I will truly find it anytime soon. And that’s okay.

As I approach my first year out of public education (yes, these last 17 years have been through public schooling, secondary and collegiality), I plan on finding a job that will:

  1. Allow me to make money in order to save, pay off loans and budget effectively
  2. Make me self-fulfilled professionally and personally
  3. Let me enjoy coming to work every day.

I’m not too picky right now with finding a job. As my summer employment nears the end by early August, I will start applying to various positions within the Ithaca area towards the end of July. That will be next month…

Right now, we think about tomorrow.

I plan on enjoying my last summer in the town home to my Alma mater. I plan on spending time with my friends. I plan on getting in shape. I plan on spending time with myself. I plan on mapping out a game plan for these next couple years. I plan on looking at graduate programs for communications.

I plan on doing all the things I’ve always wanted to do. To conquer my fears and just do it.

“So what’s next?” they ask.

That’s what’s next,” I respond.