In life, we battle every day to create a definition for ourselves and our lives that foster a sense of belonging.
Like many of you, my entire life has been a battle. I’ve stood by people who stick up for others, I’ve crossed over language boundaries, countered negative energy with a desire and work ethic geared towards success, I was never “average,” I’ve taken chances with competitive scholarships and put myself outside of my comfort zone numerous times. I’ve battled so much to earn what I have, which, on paper, seems quite significant at my age and yet in reality is close to nothing.
There’s a girl who has the same position as I do, slightly older than me. At 20, she became pregnant and decided to discontinue her education after having a baby. I’ve overheard her brag about speeding tickets and describe a car accident to others. She also, notably, decided to speak ill of me at work at one point.
When I was 20, I had completed a Bachelor’s degree and picked up a sixth language. I took a risk moving, again, somewhere outside my comfort zone, have 0 traffic violations (in fact, these days I feel like I’m the only one who follows the speed limit), and 0 children. Yet here I am, in the same line of work as her.
I read a quote the other day that goes “Good judgment comes from Experience and experience comes from bad judgment.” I almost feel as though I should have had more “bad judgment” in my lifetime and yet, I didn’t require a lot of bad decisions to reach good judgment and should be proud of that.
I will always agree that mistakes are our greatest teachers. People tend to neglect those boring days where nothing may happen and what they teach us. I may not have stories of wild adventures, but I have my own experiences to share and a level head. You don’t have to make stupid decisions just because you’re young. Someone recently commented that based on my maturity level I am - and I quote - “the oldest young person [they] know and it’s impressive.”
Be wise in your decisions. Be kind to others. And never forget that even though you feel life has dug you into a hole you can’t get out of, listen to the universe. This is just another battle. You have to find the victory yourself.
As someone who doesn’t practice Catholicism, I had to look this one up. Apart from the purification process, purgatory is also used as a state of punishment for the sins of the past life - where the soul can no longer live - and the stepping stone to the afterlife - eternal paradise.
There’s nothing for me in Tucson or in Arizona for that matter. I’ve used the area for all it’s worth to me and am not qualified for the jobs available there.
In New York I’m equally unqualified and pay an arm and a leg for no private space, no luxury, no beauty - even the city has lost its luster and allure to me. In fact I find it all very unglamorous and unsophisticated.
Before I was legally allowed to drink in this country, I had a University degree in my hand. I speak five languages and my greatest achievements of yet: unpaid internship and retail, where I sweep, mop, wash glasses in a bathroom sink and clean an entire store on my own, each day, while attempting to sell the world’s ugliest and tackiest shoes.
I don’t know what exactly I’m being punished for, though I know I’m no saint. I don’t know where exactly I could call home but I know I’ve seen far more beautiful places that inspire me more and make me feel…alive? Vibrant? Daring? Anything really as opposed to this dull, monotonous, exhausting feeling I feel here in purgatory.
New York is my purgatory and I must endure it with the knowledge that something better may come. I work hard to find it and finally find that glimmer of hope - an interview, a nice evening with friends, a good reflection in the mirror - but it’s just the same tired, sunken eyes that work and work only to be disappointed.
I will suffer my punishment in purgatory and continue to try and understand it while reaching for the after life, which, I hope, can only come as quickly as this year has gone.
Seeing the Light after a Quarter Life Crisis
It’s amazing to me that my friend all the way in Cambodia and I can share some of life’s experiences at the same time despite our different ways of discovering them.
She and I have always been somewhat adventurers so when she decided to join the Peace Corps a year ago, I wasn’t surprised. When she heard I would be studying abroad again at 19 or that I would move to New York after graduation, she wasn’t surprised either.
Ever time I speak with her I feel a sense of calm, like I’ve reached some uncommon wisdom out of nowhere. After speaking with her this past weekend then, I’ve also felt relieved. My thoughts are no longer cluttered and I have a clearer plan now.
We’ve determined that we’re both going through a quarter-life crisis. It’s not quite as extreme as a mid-life crisis and can’t be classified as “failing to grow up.” When someone goes through a lot of transition or is on a quest to “find themselves,” it’s often the result that eludes them the entire time. We think a vacation or trip will make the task of finding our true purpose easier and yet here we’ve lived our whole lives without seeing it!
Though we are young and have time, it’s easy to get discouraged. With each lesson, you may feel that you only learn what NOT to do with your life, which doesn’t make your career choices any clearer.
This goes back to one of my first posts on one of the lessons I struggle the most with: roll with the punches. Allow yourself to make those mistakes and find out what doesn’t work so you can move on quickly and find out what DOES work. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of, but don’t expect revelations to happen overnight (unless, of course, you happen to be on the phone with my friend in Cambodia).
Have patience and perseverance. Keep your mind clear and your goals in sight. Maybe it’s not the goal that’s unattainable, maybe it’s the place you’re in or the company you keep; try and think outside the box and look at big picture stuff.
I don’t think I’ve had an “a-ha!” moment yet, no matter how many discoveries or revelations I make, but I know it’s coming. Keep on the road you’re on and find it.
Live life, baby.
Maybe the “baby” part doesn’t apply to you but we could all learn to make a little more room for living a little.
I recently picked up a book outlining the importance of internships and how a lot of post-college resumes are lacking without one. The author goes on to say that the estimated 80% that do not actively seek internship opportunities are lost and need some direction that she may provide. While I wholeheartedly agree that internships are a vital if not the most important way to gain practical work experience and professional networking help, I do NOT believe that those that do not or did not participate in internships during their college careers are adamantly ignoring their importance. Let me explain by using personal experience.
Having grown a passion for a career path that didn’t match what I had studied, I sought internship opportunities rather than entry-level positions for this Fall - despite having a degree, it didn’t make me any more qualified to demand a job from these organizations. I always knew internships were important and hoped to one day partake in one, but was always told I couldn’t until a certain year completed and during summers I was always busy, not to mention the semester I chose to study abroad. Even if I had applied for an internship anyways, none seemed worthwhile nor did they fit my schedule. Not to mention the fact that the most interesting ones were further away and unpaid which meant paying for a semester of college, just to get the equivalent of one class in credits, figuring out a living situation away from home, all while receiving no income. As someone who was constantly denied by all the scholarships I applied for so none of this seemed practical or affordable.
So yes, I am someone who graduated from a 4-year University WITHOUT internship experience. I was never misguided and had some time to proactively discover which is the best path to where I want to be and became an intern. That’s my title and profession: intern.
What I’m trying to say goes along with my last post about perhaps over planing and causing yourself to worry: Don’t worry about HAVING to fit in an internship. Internships aren’t out there just for students - they’re out there for learners. You have your entire life ahead of you to learn so take it step by step and do what you CAN.