A few minutes ago, I reread the words I put on a document about a month ago. I felt inspired when I wrote them. They talked about doing something hard, about leaving something I liked, but finding something I loved. Because life is too short and unpredictable to not do the things I found most meaningful.
Today, I have the courage to share those words. They were words full of fight – they sounded excited when I reread them, and viewed life as an adventure. And they were words that made me sound confident in my decisions and perspectives.
I wonder if every writer reads personal things they wrote at a different time and wonders where they found those words and what happened to take those words away. I think half the reason I’m ready to share those words is that today, I need to be reminded of the things those words say.
The other side of being 22, I think, is a lot of fluctuation, unfamiliarity and discomfort. I don’t know any 22-year-old college graduate who hasn’t experienced a little bit of those things recently, as unpleasant as it sounds.
Come to think of it, I also don’t know any 22-year-old college graduate who was a freshman in college at one point that didn’t also experience those feelings then. Nor do I know many people, regardless of their age, that weren’t uncomfortable and a little scared when they first went away to school.
And I also know a lot of people that were nervous when they moved, or changed jobs, or were about to get married or go on a first date. Most of those people were also really excited to do those things, but if they were being honest, they were also a little apprehensive in the face of the unknown.
Maybe there are some laid-back, extreme type B people who have enough faith in God or fate or karma or something to never feel nervousness or discomfort, but instead ride the waves of life with confidence and fearlessness all the time. I am not that person, nor do I know those people.
From the little I have observed of human beings, I have realized that we like control a lot. Regardless of whether or not we like spontaneity or planning or change or routine, people all seem to like control. We like to make our decisions and have things go our way, whether we decided what we wanted three years ago or three seconds ago.
I have started watching Lost recently – yes, I am about a decade behind – and John Locke creeps me out a little bit. No one can really put their finger on exactly why, but I have a hunch that a lot of it has to do with his willingness to let “the island” decide things. His lack of desire to get off the island or survive or help his friends survive, all with the purpose of letting the island get its own way, is unnatural and unsettling, so we don’t trust him.
But at the same time, Locke really does want his own way. I think he wants the island to win, because if it wins, he wins – he gets to keep walking and being the person he always wanted to be. So he is playing his strange game of island manipulation with the same motives as anyone else on the show, it’s just all a little convoluted.
All of this is to say that 22 is an age where a lot of people are facing a lot of change. And they are all doing very different things. I have friends leaving, friends coming home, friends working stable jobs with the opportunity for advancement, friends working at restaurants and coffee shops. I know people living at home, living with friends, living alone. And most of them weren’t doing those things four months ago.
But the thing is, almost all of them are not fully confident in what they’re doing. They’re asking themselves why they signed up for something so difficult, or why they didn’t apply themselves more in college. They wonder what they could be doing if they weren’t working 9-5, or what the comfort of a stable job would feel like. They’re afraid that after they leave and come home, that person they loved will have moved on. Or deep down, they wonder if “that person” exists for them or how they will ever find him or her. And some try to calculate what the ideal time for a wedding is or how they will afford the perfect ring.
Maybe life would be a whole lot easier if we accepted that we are all going to make mistakes, or that there is no perfect decision or that God makes beauty out of ashes. I wonder if that would change the chances we took or the way we retrospectively view our decisions. It would almost have to.
Maybe we would all be a little bit better at living life if we viewed each day as only that – a day. I wrote something in my last post about something to the effect of life is not a means to an end. It’s a day-by-day kind of thing, and really the most definite choice we have in all of it is whether we will live it as such.
So I guess I need to tell myself that today is not about figuring out what I will do tomorrow or next week or next year. It’s about loving something or someone, about doing something meaningful in these 24 hours and about serving something greater than myself. It’s about finding joy and contentment, even if they’re hiding somewhere in the corner.
And it’s reminding myself of what I said a month ago as I sat in another coffee shop, just as I am now, except this one was across the country. Then, I wrote about how 22 “is a year to still have fun putting puzzles together and to wake up every morning excited to see where the next piece fits.” Today, I am reminding myself that playing with puzzles is fun.