I am a Millennial. I grew up with parents telling me I can do anything I want to do. I’ve been told that I am special, one-of-a-kind, rare and unique. I stand out, I am recognizable, I am important, and I am the only ‘me’ there is. Thanks, mom and dad. You’re right. And you’re also dead wrong.
In disregard of the stereotype about my generation, a lot of the perspective that I’ve gained in my short ‘adult’ life has been brought upon by a lot Lot LOT of hard work. I have opinions that I’ve worked for, contacts I’ve worked for, skills that I’ve worked for, and a stacked resume that I sure-the-hell have worked for. I just turned 26 and I’m EXHAUSTED. I’ve been working for my entire life!
So, I quit my job two weeks ago. It was a comfortable job doing something I am incredibly good at in an industry that I care about. It brought me notoriety in the community I live in and helped me create relationships that I will continue to treasure and bolster in the future. It was good and I was lucky to have it, if you base your definition of ‘luck’ solely on the idea that you have something that others would give their left arm for. But, my boss and sole co-worker had always told me that the moment it stopped being fun, it ceased to be ‘worth it.’ It reached that point without noticing a few months ago, but I forced myself to continue until I was undeniably miserable.
The only way I noticed I was unhappy was when I realized I was forcing the people I hold most dear into misery, too, in my own unconsciously manipulative way. This has been, without question, the hardest six months of my life. There are a lot of contributing factors for that, but most of them have been my doing. And, simultaneously, my un-doing.
Two days before my 26th birthday (which was also just a few days ago), I found myself in an absolute panic. Guilt-striken and unable to truly fathom my next step, I faltered. I cried. A lot. Quickly thereafter, I found peace. This calm was something I had been missing for so long without knowing where it had gone or how to get it back. As a deeply logical and analytical person, my lack of calm was driving me crazy, making me even less calm than I already was.
Now, having grown up in a fiercely socially entitled age but with very little material wealth to speak of, I’ve always found myself at a convergence between two ideological disparities. I’ve worked for every single thing I have, but I am also staunchly convinced that I deserve all this and more, despite my seeming unwillingness to work harder than I already do. I know many people that have worked harder, longer, and better than I have and have much less to show for it. I have incredibly dedicated opinions about things and viewpoints that are ofttimes unrealistic and judgmental, but I don’t necessarily know where they came from except from my surroundings. I am a spoiled brat, honestly, but without ever expecting anything to come for free. In short, calm does not come easy for me, so when I find it, I value it deeply.
I’ve let my brain rest in the last few days since my birthday, and what I’ve realized is this: just because I’m good at something doesn’t mean I should do it, and just because I’ve never done something before doesn’t mean I can’t. I’ve psyched myself out about a lot of things in my life, allowing myself to get talked out of ideas and solutions that were seemingly far-fetched but desirable. My values have never changed, but the way I’ve responded to them has. In some of my social and professional circles, I am proud to call myself by the name of certain stereotypes… in others, I disdain said terms and poke fun.
I lead an incredibly dichotomous life, myself, and I’m finally ready to take steps in changing that.
I am one of the minority population that skipped bartending gigs during college and waitressing for extra cash in the summertime. Last Friday, I served dinner in a restaurant for the first time in my life. I am so incredibly humbled and excited to be learning how to do something that I’ve always taken for granted. I love good food and have had my fair share of it, and my unwitting judgement has always scoffed at the idea of what it must be like to be on the other side of the table. In so exploring that place, I am finding peace within myself.
That calm, that peace, that knowing, is the only thing I really have in the midst of all chaos. I am grateful for every opportunity afforded me, warranted or otherwise, and I’m ready to get back on track to finding what it is that makes me tick.
My parents probably didn’t realize what kind of pressure they were putting me under in telling me I can be anything I want to be, especially because they couldn’t have anticipated what kinds of things might set off a lifelong semblance of social anxiety. But I think I’m finally becoming okay in knowing it — knowing that I can be, do, think anything I want, as long as I’m taking care of myself.