Last weekend my roommate and I spent Saturday in full blown job search mode. She, tired of her emotionally draining field, and me tired of being perma-broke spent the day tweaking résumés and lamenting cover letters. She even invited her colleague/ life-coach to help, along with his 2-year-old daughter. In between diaper changes, nap time and playing with dolls, he was able to splice in résumé formatting tips and phrasing advice. We wondered out loud why we couldn’t just skip to the family part and leave out the New York life-sucking part.
Being 20-something and having never seen the glamour of money, I hate looking for a job for the sole purpose of financial gain. However, I have plans and those plans don’t involve stress dreams or living from paycheck to paycheck for the rest of my life. I see the beauty in loving a tiny person so much you’re willing to watch Care Bears on Netflix for an hour. So what happened to the dreamer? Am I bound to give up my artistic life of convictions for stability? Something has changed in me. Without any doom and gloom mentality, unlike when I was 20, I feel like these decisions I’m making now are setting the course for the rest of my life.
Three weeks ago I met my boyfriend Dave’s 89-year-old grandmother for the first time. We were sitting together at their family’s lake cottage in Ontario, looking out a large window at the passing boats and setting sun. Dave was busy in the kitchen prepping dinner with his sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law. Grandma talked about the history of the cottage and how it was built. She told me about her and her late husband’s courtship and as she gazed out, in a matter of fact way she said, “Nothing else besides family matters.” That stuck with me for days. I was mulling that concept around in my brain wondering if I hadn’t become too cynical to believe it. I wanted to believe it. And if I wanted it, wouldn’t that make it true? By the end of our week at the cottage I realized that my abstract longing for kids and a family was definitely what mattered, but that didn’t mean I had the means to maintain one. Family is the only thing that matters, but it’s not a singular entity. Something in my brain switched. The selfish desires of my singledom left me within that short span of time, and I realized that my life plans required more than great stories and epic adventures. I had to get a real job… or maybe even two.
If you believe statistics even remotely, money is the second greatest stressor in the U.S. It is something I see no romance in and it is the dearth of genuine art. For example, I write because it is a passion to express myself and observations of the world. However, if Fox News offered me a staff position for one of their many publications, at this point I’d take it. There is no art in producing material that goes against one’s convictions – but there’s health insurance and paid vacations. The shift I spoke about earlier isn’t whether or not I’m a sell out. It’s about feeling a new motivation to conquer the ills that plague me where I have control. I choose to write, ergo I must also hostess at a bar on Saturday nights, babysit on Fridays and teach CPR classes when I’d rather be at a boat party around NYC. Even as a staff writer, a scarce position coveted by many, I’m sure it won’t be my only income.
I can already see that my friendships are the part of my life that’ll take the biggest personal hit. I’ve been the friend to say, “Yes!” to every experience and jaunt down to the pub. Now my time is limited and I’m more strict about where my money goes. In a city as vast as New York, there’s no such thing as a quick coffee if you needed to take a subway for 30 minutes. My boyfriend is abroad until December, so he gets much of my time in the evenings on Skype. We’re old enough to know platonic friendships and romantic ones aren’t on the same plain, but it still hurts nonetheless to lose balance in one area to maintain others (sleep, money, work, love). The way I handle my relationships today will most definitely affect my future life.
These are not new feelings for others. This is just the first time I’m feeling the desire to share my life and that means paying back the debt of fun from my earlier 20s. A few years ago I wrote a short observation on Peter Pan Syndrome. It’s not a foreign concept to avoid growing up, especially when you’re still so young, but maybe I’m not so young anymore and my desires go beyond Saturday night. I will still rage but those moments will become more significant in short order. Travel is not a phase I went through, but a part of my being, it just won’t be as spontaneous and it’ll take more time to save up instead of using a credit card.
My life will be robust and happy, no doubt about that. While aspiring professionally may diverge from my passions, it doesn’t mean they’re lost or that I must settle for a life less than glorious. Maybe this is the comfortable feeling 30 year olds tell me about. I’m looking forward to my personal world domination.