Thursday, March 9, 2017

Why I bought a cactus that says "I thrive on neglect" on the label...

Hey you, yes you, tugging at your pencil skirt with blurry eyes looking over that memo one last time. I see you and I feel you. It is hard being a woman in your 20s. The media, our parents, facebook, and certain instagram accounts told us that this would be the time of our lives: climbing the corporate ladder, becoming independent and stable, exploring the world around us.

It is the time to be witty and charming and fearless but instead you feel like if you do not have one more cup of coffee your snarkiness level will envelope everyone in a 100 mile radius.  You are really learning what you are up against outside of the safety of your university. You are seeing the glass ceilings, you are making hard choices, you are keeping your chin up when you feel like cowering at the table.

If you are like me your 20s are probably filled with more questions than answers. This is not the time in your life for the nice house and minivan. This is the time in your life for easy mac and thrift stores. For splurging on that gym membership so you can fit into your clothes because you cannot afford to buy new ones. Sometimes you hit roadblocks. Some people tell you that you are young and naive and you do not understand. Others want to know why you aren't jumping at every opportunity saying you should know more than the previous generations.

Some think you are too progressive in your ideology and you do not understand how the world turns. Others think you must be crazy to be so conservative saying you will miss out on the important things in life. The number of places you still want to see in the world is almost as large as the number on your student loan payment. The list of books you need to read is collecting dust on your shelf but your passion to be well rounded keeps nagging at you that you should read at least one chapter tonight even if you have to have one more cup of coffee to make it happen. You cannot get away from the barrage of news updates because you have to be in the loop. You have to know what is happening, not just in your country but in the world-the economist, New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, maybe a few more.  

You do not know how some people can be so ignorant then you look at your diploma and wonder what you even learned in all those classes. You lust for adventure, you crave stability. You feel like you might possibly implode just worrying about yourself yet you demand a more just world for those you have not even met.

If this sounds like you then I think you are doing it right.

For the last few weeks I felt like like I am being crushed by a heavy weight. I have wondered why everything that seemed so bright right out of college now seems so daunting. I have faced setbacks and had some great times. I have laughed until my lungs burned and cried at 8 in the morning because I couldn’t find my bra-and I think that is ok.

I have friends who are figuring it all out; they are married (or getting there), they have a career, and, a few of them, even have children...on purpose. I, on the other hand, have a cactus that I was very attracted to because it said “I thrive on neglect” across the pot and that is the kind of positivity I need in my life right now. I constantly wonder what is wrong with me.

Just recently, almost one full year removed from walking across that stage under the Carolina blue sky, decided what the next step will look like. And that step will take me 3-5 more years and then there will be another step that I cannot see yet. Sometimes that annoys me so badly I want to throw my neglected cactus but I also find it real and raw and that is what I have always wanted, a raw life.

The 3-5 year plan, or heck in my case right now the 3-5 month plan, is perfectly ok. It is a chance for adventure, it is a chance for healing, it is a chance to meet one new person, try one new food, live in one new place, learn one new thing. And it sometimes it SUCKS, ROYALLY, but that is part of the fun too.

Someday when you are eating a fully nutritious diet with plenty of colors on your plate, looking over soccer schedules, work agendas, car payments, and new life insurance policies you might just laugh and call up your friend saying, “Remember that time we ate mac and cheese for a month to make rent and filled up jugs of water from work so we could keep our water bill down?” And, I honestly truly believe, those will be the nights you remember.

So, for now, you are killing it. Even if you do not feel like you are because your 20s are a time of transition. They are saving up all season for one weekend on the ski slopes. They are sleeping in a tent to get to see that concert because you cannot afford a hotel. They are thinking taco bell is a great date night.

So, wear that red lipstick a little too boldly on Friday night, read the memo and extra time before you send it to your boss, cut yourself some slack if you haven't read every Herman Melville novel yet, and let your roaring 20s hear you roar back.