* Optimistic, I know. But it keeps me slightly more upbeat and the math is whole lot easier this way.
I’m not typically one to be phased by getting older. I chalk this up to life’s been good to me. I’ve generally met my goals, I’ve got a great relationship, great friends. Getting older is no big deal when every year brings great things. A lot of this, in my theorizing, is a lack of structure.
I was good at school. Was I a Straight-A student? No, but my grades were pretty darned good in high school. Not as good in college, but still pretty solid. Could I have been a 4.0 student? Well, maybe not quite, because my math skills were lacking, but a 3.9 or something like that wasn’t out of the question. I’ve been followed basically my entire life for not living up to potential. That was the line on me. And I admit it. During school, I maybe gave a 75% effort. Maybe. I definitely turned on the cruise control and coasted through. And I got good grades. It was hard for me to work harder when I was getting results I was happy with. Is it the best life philosophy? No, and I would be the first to admit that. But it got me by and let me focus on things that were more fun to me. I knew the structure of high school would take care of me if I took care of it, so I didn’t have to give a full measure.
And it did. I got into my school of choice.* And I trusted the structure of college. I had to give more of an effort, but my general philosophy was the same. If I had to do it again, I really wouldn’t change much, either. I was an awkward and frankly socially inept high schooler. Wabash afforded me so many opportunities, and I was able to become a leader in multiple clubs and capacities. It made the high school version of me unrecognizable, and that was sorely needed. And would have impossible without the reliability of the structure of the ivory tower.
*Wabash was the only school I applied to. I didn’t have a back up plan in the least. I knew I wanted to be a Little Giant, and thankfully, they took me.
The world outside academia, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to work this way. I don’t want to profess to be an expert on how all this works, otherwise I probably wouldn’t be writing this. But it sure seems that the business world loves its inertia, which is not great for somebody starting off like me. I don’t completely hate my job, but it’s damned unfulfilling. I feel I’ve got a hell of a lot more to offer the world than to sit here and answer phone calls to fix signs all day. I’m so frustrated that I don’t have a job that gives me a position to be more of a mover and shaker, but the business world doesn’t move that quickly. It takes years to get that kind of position, and it seems the best (or at least quickest) way to climb into that position is to jump to different companies, grasping for a little higher rung on the ladder each time. This seems like an awfully risky way to go about things, and something that ought to be avoided if there were a better structure to reward people* who come in and, to put it plainly, get shit done every day.
* Bonuses are nice, but they’re really not a substantial reward in the scheme of things, you know?
Maybe I just have problems not being a leader after getting a taste of it in college. Implanted that entrepreneurial spirit in me that’s being ignored. I don’t know. But this feeling of being so stuck and not really knowing how to break out of it leaves me feeling rudderless, and I’m not dealing with it well. It seems that something I give roughly half (maybe more) of my waking hours at least five days a week should have a little more meaning to my life, but I sure can’t find that meaning. It just leaves me frustrated and sad.
All of this adds up to a not particularly happy birthday. Not completely joyless, mind you. Like I said, life is still generally good. But I’m ripe for an existential crisis, and by God am I ever in one. Wikipedia helpfully points out these crises can be “provoked by a significant event in the person's life — marriage, separation, major loss, . . . reaching a personally-significant age (turning 20, turning 30, turning 40, etc.).” It also talks about a sense of isolation can bring these feelings on.
Well, as has been mentioned, I turned 25 today. I’m getting married in a couple months.* There has been a string of deaths in the last year or two in the family.** My friends, great as they are, scattered out after college as college friends are wont to do, leaving me feeling pretty lonely and isolated at times. Really, reading that article felt like reading a checklist of my current situation.
*This is obviously something I’m very excited about, but it is a big change, and maybe more importantly in this context, another sign of not being the little kid I used to be.
**Some of these have been in Kristine’s family, but we’ve been together long enough I consider them my family as well. Hopefully they feel the same.
So, where to go from here. I’m hoping the “ignore a problem long enough until it goes away” strategy is relevant here, but something tells me it’s not. I don’t know, I haven’t gone through this before. I’m definitely reminded of this xkcd comic, though in my case, you can erase out the relationship part and just lengthen that career line.
Now I just have to hope the end of that timeline is true. Though, if you happen to be in that area and you’re reading this blog, I probably also don’t necessarily need to hear about it.