Why I’m Grateful To Be A TwentySomething

I talk in this blog a lot about the trials and lessons of being a twentysomething. It is, after all, that uncharted, turbulent time when technically everyone calls you an adult, but you still feel like you’re growing up. That means there are a lot of nights of anxiety, and a lot of decisions that feel like the equivalent to jumping off a cliff, or holding your breath far beyond when your vision starts to blur.

Or at least, I have these moments.

But it’s not always like that, and in the midst of everything, I am so grateful I have this time in my life to just sort of stumble around blindly.

Why? Well, frankly, I look at the people in their 30’s and 40’s around me and see two groups: those who have their lives “together” and those who are either starting over, or still figuring out what they want. Both are okay, but neither is where I want to be right now. Of course some day, like many–if not most–other people I know, I want to be in that first group of people, where “together” means a happy combination of career and family. And, of course, I know that if I’m in that second group, that’s fine, too, because “together” doesn’t always have to mean career and family. But once you have those two things, there isn’t a whole lot of room to be selfish or focus on yourself. You have kids and a spouse to think about, bills and responsibilities, people who are depending on you to be a stable, reliable resource. Which means putting off things like chores, or taking time off from work to focus your energy on a side project isn’t really a possibility for most people at that stage in life. So if you ever feel down about not knowing the love of your life, not working your dream job, and not living in a mansion somewhere near a beach, just remember that your low-profile and freedom now gives you the opportunity to do these things:

1) Travel on a whim, for long periods of time, to random places “just because.”

Sure you’re poor and paying the rent is your biggest concern right now, but think about it this way: You don’t have that many possessions. You’re bank account already practically qualifies you for welfare, what’s there to lose if you move your stuff back into your parent’s basement for a few months, save up a couple thousand, and hike across Europe? You have no one waiting for you back home, and given your salary if you even had a full time job, it probably wasn’t something you’d like to stick with long term, anyways. If you’re ready for a change and want to spend some time discovering more about yourself while you meet awesome people and learn more about the world, traveling in your twenties is the perfect time to do it. You’ll never get a chance like this again.

2) Be a student.

Okay, so now that I’ve been out of college for a little over a year, I don’t recommend going to grad school without giving yourself at least a year in between. Obviously, I can’ t speak for the experience of those who do go straight to grad school, and granted, it was definitely something I deeply considered my senior year of college, but I’ve learned so much being in the real world this last year that I wouldn’t have been exposed to if I had stayed in the nice warm shelter of school. One of the things I’ve learned is that for the line of work I’m trying to do, having a master’s degree in Creative Writing–or really, any kind of degree in any subject–isn’t going to really give me a leg up. It’s just going to put me in more debt, and delay my entering the real world by a year or two.

Still, getting my masters in Creative Writing is a dream in the back of my mind, if for no other reason than giving me an excuse to spend a year or two living in some cool new place, focusing entirely on building up my arsenal of original work. And, working at a University is my fall back dream career, so there’s that, too. And no matter when you do grad school, if you do grad school, it’s definitely easier to get through when you don’t have a family to support. I would also assume that it’s an easier feat when the knowledge you picked up in your undergraduate classes is fresher in your mind.

3) Try out different “fun” jobs.

There is no better time or excuse for jumping from job to job than when you are first starting out in the world and trying to figure out what you enjoy and where you would like to fit into the bigger picture of society. I did this with internships, by working in marketing, publishing, and film development, discovering that while all three were exciting in their own right, none were exactly right or exciting for me. Still, there are a variety of dreamy odd-jobs on my list that I would only be unashamed to try because I have zero responsibilities beyond paying my bills right now. These include the following:

-Working as a Disney Princess at Disneyland.

-Working as a park attendant of some sort in the Wonderful World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios LA when it opens next Spring.

-Working as a Studio page and/or tour guide at any of the film studios around LA.

-Working as an extra for films and tv shows.

-Working as a house sitter/dog sitter for wealthy clients.

-Working as a personal assistant to a celebrity.

-Working for Buzzfeed.

-Working as a travel guide and/or a travel agent.

-Using an etsy shop and being an Uber driver as my primary source of income.

etc, etc.

4) Spending irresponsible amounts of money on take out, exploring new restaurants and bars, and being a semi-permanent ‘tourist’.

Granted, this might be a little more feasible for someone living in LA than in Kansas, where everything is a chain restaurant and being a ‘tourist’ consists of spending the day at the Renaissance Fair, eating giant Turkey legs, but still. Being in your twenties is the best time to find what will become “the best place to eat brunch,” “the best movie theater deal in town,” “the diviest bar, ever,” “the greatest hangover cure,” among you and your friends, because once you start working longer hours, have a spouse and/or kids to come home too, and a mortgage bill to pay, putting off chores or responsibilities no longer makes you “fun,” it just makes you immature. So do it now while you’re not tied down.

5) Consume all there is to know about whatever interests you.

This doesn’t mean you have to have your nose in a textbook. If you’re really interested in script writing, maybe this means regularly binging on Netflix (at least, that’s the excuse I use!). But it could also mean taking a day to learn new techniques on sewing, knitting, hunting, gardening, photography, whatever! Now is the time to learn and develop a hobby, because when you start involving one, two, three or more people in your life (aka have a family) you’ll find that any free time you have will be spent doing laundry and watching Sesame Street. This, at least, is what I’ve gathered from observing my siblings.

I could probably go on and on about things to do, and things to be grateful you can do while you’re in your twenties, but this post is already long enough. And if it isn’t obvious, this is a start to another thing you should incorporate into your life–no matter what age you are: Be a little more positive. When I start to feel down about where I am in life, I just think about all of these experiences that I’m able to have and then I act on them, because there is no better time than now. Take charge of your life, and enjoy being a twentysomething.

-tlc

 

An Open Letter to Sam Brownback

Dear Governor Brownback,

Here’s the deal. I realize that the blame for the $400 Million deficit that Kansas is in can’t  be laid entirely upon your shoulders. I realize that the think-tank that you’ve surrounded yourself with, and that the senate and house have been a part of, somehow got the crazy, naive idea that the trickle-down system works, and y’all just rolled with it. And I truly think that with the way this furlough thing is landing, you’re FINALLY starting to question your original opinions on feeding the full and starving the hungry.

What I can’t understand is, how the HELL did it take you this long to see this (that is, if you really can see it)? Oh, and please stop pointing fingers at everyone else. The blame might not fully be on your shoulders, but when you chose to run for Governor–and then chose to run for Governor AGAIN–you entered an unspoken contract in which you, being the voice and head of Kansas state government and legislature, would also take responsibility for your actions, and the actions of those working beneath you. So, it might not be your fault, but it IS your fault. You signed it into legislature. So, yeah.

But more infuriating than what seems to be your honest, naive, stupidity and selfishness in wanting to use Kansas in what seems to be an economic and social experiment, is what seems to be your opinion on what is important and what isn’t. Both my parents are teachers in Kansas, and for as long as I have been alive, I have watched them work harder than anyone else I have ever known, and still strain to make sure that the bills were paid, food was on the table, a roof was over our heads, and that my brother and I were provided for. They are the most amazing people I have ever met, and they are damn good at their jobs. I know that both my parents have touched the lives of many students, helping them succeed, preparing them for their futures, and instilling a desire for learning. This is a very rare thing these days, with as much non-productive stimulation as kids can receive from video games and TV. My parents have been praised by their colleagues, and have received nothing but the highest recommendations from their administrators in every school that they have taught in. My parents are involved in their schools–My mother single-handedly instituted and manages an annual science fair for every grade in her school, and students prepare their projects all year long. My father holds an administrative degree and often stands in as assistant principal when other school administrators cannot be at school. My father also helped implement the school’s after-school PBD program, which helps students who fall behind in classes and grades catch up to their peers, and you can bet that he is there, helping those students after school hours are over, too. And probably most endearing, my father volunteers as a prom valet every year. Last spring, my father broke his leg, and even though he was in a wheelchair and couldn’t drive, he still showed up at Prom to wish his students a fun night.

My parents love their students and take a lot of pride in what they do. So you can imagine their sadness, and my heartbreak, when they are told that their work is essentially worthless. Why are they being told this? Because you, Governor Brownback, tell them that everyday that you allow budget cuts to continue for Kansas schools and education. Since you decided that a small percentage of Kansas’s tax dollars were worth more than funding our schools, you have caused salary freezes, supply cuts, and stricter regulations on paid teacher time, which does not mean that teachers are working less–it means that teachers are simply working more unpaid time.

You see, what you might not realize about working in education is that it isn’t like a normal 9-5 job. You don’t just go in to work, do your time, and then leave it in the classroom. Many teachers–even ones who work in states that actually care about education and paying their instructors–put in hundreds of hours outside of those they get paid, just prepping their classrooms and lesson plans, not to mention being a visible part of their students’ lives, so that their students feel supported. Many teachers also spend their own money suppling their classrooms, as–even on a regulated budget–schools do not typically have enough funding to cover every classroom purchase. Teachers do this out of love; love for their jobs and love for their students, because teaching isn’t a job, it’s a calling.

But when, for nearly five years, you continually “thank” them for their dedication by providing them less and less financial support, spirits begin to break. Educators who were once eager in their work are looking for ways out. My own parents, who have dedicated a combined 50+ years towards education, are at their breaking points. People are tired, and they can only carry the weight of your ignorance for so long.

And what’s really sad is what this means for our children. A whole generation has lost five years’ worth of quality education because their teachers’ hands have been tied, their wills broken, and their funding made nonexistent. And the cherry on top? The fact that schools closed early this year because of your budget cuts. Why has education been so unimportant to you? Do you hope that by dumbing down the masses, you might be able to continue on in an otherwise damned career? Frankly, I would like to know what idiot politician cut school funding while you were learning economics, because the damage is evident.

Though I can only speak directly for the education realm, I have no doubt that every other facet of this state that has felt your budget cuts has similar woes. No, I don’t think there is really anything you can do to make up for the idiocy that you’ve instilled trying to run this state for the last four and a half years. You can start trying, though, by eliminating the tax cuts that you’ve put in place for the last four and a half years. Just remember, you can’t change the damaged past.

For everyone reading this who isn’t Brownback (which is probably all of you) I can’t stress enough how important it is to be an educated voter and VOTE EVERY TIME. Please, for everyone’s sanity, VOTE VOTE VOTE, and educate yourself ahead of time.

Thank you, and please get your shit together, Brownback.

-A concerned ex-Kansas-resident (that’s right, I left because I couldn’t stand you), tlc

Things That Every Twenty-Something Should Know

Okay, so a couple weeks ago I did a post on missing home and how I’ve come to realize that the only thing that is truly important in your life–and subsequently the only thing that will really make you happy–is the people and relationships that you surround yourself with.

That’s lesson number one.

But there are a few other things that I’ve picked up as time has gone on. I won’t list them all out here because that would be a long post, and I don’t think I could possibly think of all of them off the top of my head right now anyways. Besides, I have to have something to write about for future posts, don’t I?

So here are a few things that I think every 20-something should know:

  • Travel
    • Live outside of your comfort-zone/Travel box: Everyone has a travel box; those cities, states, and places that they’ve visited before, lived before, or have family and friends residing in. Move outside of that, even if it’s only for a year. You’re in your 20’s, you’re probably already poor, and hopefully you don’t have too many obligations to other people at this point in your life. Now is the time to go and explore the world, see a different place, and make new friends that grew up in a life different from your own.
    • I might not always love living so far away from my family, but I’ve learned so much and grown so much by moving away. I’ve discovered that I can rely on myself to get through almost every situation that I’ve come across. It’s really empowering, and in a lot of ways freeing. It’s shown me that the world really is full of possibilities, and that you can do the things you put your mind to. If you stay in your box forever, you have to learn to settle for the things that only your box can offer. Get out and explore. Learn something about somebody completely different from yourself.
  • Feed Yourself
    • Cooking, even if you aren’t great at it, is not only a life skill that everyone should be made to learn, it’s also the only way you’re going to be smart about saving money and about what you’re putting in your body. I don’t care how healthy a restaurant makes itself out to be, there is no telling where your food has been and what all is used to cook it. The only way to know this is to do it yourself–and frankly, it’s a whole lot cheaper, too.
    • It’s also an extremely satisfying and rewarding feeling to be self-sufficient and provide a meal for yourself. The less people you need to rely on to survive, the more empowered you will feel. Besides, coming from a family of farmers, I believe everyone should support small businesses and farms by shopping as much as possible at your local farmer’s market.
  • Clean Yourself
    • A clean home is a happy home. Take a little pride and ownership in the place where you live and take care of it! Not only will your everything last longer–we’re talking clothes, furniture, appliances, everything–but you’ll feel better and more relaxed because organizing and cleaning up after yourself won’t feel like a permanently unchecked box on your to-do list. BONUS: Things like vacuuming and dusting are actually great workouts that burn an impressive number of calories. Google it.
  • Keep Your Plans
    • Flaking is an easy rabbit’s hole to fall down. Check out this article that gives a pretty good observation on this plight that’s plaguing our generation of 20-somethings. This one, I’ll admit, I’m a bit hypocritical on because I’m definitely guilty of doing it. But when you make plans with someone and you don’t honor that, you only dig a shallow grave for that friendship/connection/relationship. If you don’t really want to hang out with someone, don’t make plans with them. If you make plans with someone but think there’s a chance something better might come up, 1) don’t think like that because that’s douche-y and 2) don’t commit to things on nights that you might want to do some other activity.
    • Personal relationships are so, so important. And I think as you get older, it becomes harder to meet new people and make those friendships that will truly make you happy. This is because as you get older, you get more set in your ways, more set in your routines, and old friendships take time to grow. So start young. Start now. Meet people, and be genuine. Put the stupid cell phone away and go out to dinner to talk. Close Facebook and plan a day/night out. Call instead of text. Be a little bit old school. Don’t let yourself become isolated by your technology.
  • Create
    • Nick Offerman calls it “Finding a Discipline,” but whatever you want to call it, find some way to spend your time that isn’t Netflix. Think of it as a physical way of investing in your future. If you love to craft, make things! (If you get good, you can sell your art on Etsy.) If you love music, make music! If you love to exercise, work out! If you love to help, volunteer! You get my drift. Then find a way to share your pass time passion with others. Who knows, it might wind up being a means to a living. Even if it’s not, you’ll be happier having something to take your mind off  the stress around you, and having a purpose to look forward to in your free time.

Okay, I have to stop there before this post goes on forever and ever. Gotta keep it simple, right? Anyways, that’s my current two-cents on what 20-somethings should know. I’d love to get other opinions on this, though. Seasoned vets of life might have a different perspective and I always love to learn knew things. Let me know in the comments if you have any thoughts on this.

Good luck in life.

-tlc

GSS and the Plight of the College Kid

In honor of winter break, and finals week being over, I’ve decided to post this little gem that’s been sitting in my drafts for quite some time now. (Naturally, it’s not finished.  As you will soon see is appropriate for this post, I got a bit busy and a bit distracted by school and never went back to finish it. Now I can’t remember exactly what I wanted to say.  Ahh, that GSS. It’ll get you every time.) :

Wellllllllll just in case it hasn’t been clear, I’ve been neglecting my duties as a writer and wanna-be blogger.  It seems that in the crazy course of events I like to consider as ‘life’, blogging gets pushed to the back burner as I attempt to meet all the deadlines that come with being someone overly obsessed with following deadlines.  I sometimes like to refer to it as the “Good Student Syndrome” or, “GSS”. (Don’t worry–I’ve never actually called it that. I just made that up.)  But it does seem like a pretty good way to describe someone like me–a workaholic, over-achieving nerd who craves the idea of being on top, even when that ‘on top’ is a little letter on a piece of paper that I’m paying $20,000 a year for anyways.

Having GSS means two things: 1) Your professors love you.  Even when they hate you, they love you. You make them look good. All in all, you are pretty much the tuxedo of students.  Sleek and eye-catching, yet stuffy and slightly uncomfortable.  (Still embarrassed about all those times you thought you knew the answer?  What about those extra, unnecessary hours spent mulling over details you later found out were irrelevant to the tests? Yep, good times.)  And 2) Your social life sucks, and you know it.  Between  studying, classes, homework, studying, discussing, student groups, studying, and eating, you feel like you hardly have time to breathe, let alone actually enjoy yourself. And the times you do spend away from a text book, you’re regretting it, thinking about all the different things you need to get done and could be doing at that very exact moment.  It’s torturous, and I’ve realized it’s a double-edged sword–you see, it doesn’t matter whether you are at home working, or out with friends, people suffering from GSS are always thinking about the “Other Option”.  The “Other Option” is the dilemma designed by the collegiate educational system to mess with student psychology and break us down so that we submit.  The “Other Option” simply refers to the fact that no matter where you are, you are unhappy.  (If this were Panem, the “Other Option” would be the work of Capital hands.) The scenario goes a little something like this:

Suzy is a student studying for a final exam. She has been sitting at her desk without moving from her chair for almost three days.  However, she is taking twice as long as usual to read her textbook and notes because all she can think about is visiting with her friends. Finally, as if by God’s will, Becky calls and wants Suzy to go to the diner with her.  Suzy, after a few minutes hesitation, agrees.  And suddenly, the darkness begins.  Suzy goes to the diner, but all she can think about is how much more work she has to do.  Soon, Becky is out of conversation topics and Suzy finds herself  discussing every last  assignment Suzy has had for the past month. Becky, trying to be the good friend that she is, silently listens and nods at the appropriate time, all the while thinking, “Why did I invite Suzy again? All she ever does is talk about school work.” And before you know it, Suzy is back at her desk, beating herself up on the inside wishing she would have found something more interesting to discuss, while Becky is thinking about how she needs to expand her social group.

Hence, the “Other Option.” No matter where Suzy is, she’s thinking about the other things she could be doing. In this case, while doing homework, she’s thinking about the diner. While at the diner, she’s thinking about homework.  It’s like a terrible mental monster that moves in under your twin-sized, dorm-room bunk-bed and never leaves.  It’s terrifying, and highly unattractive.  Let me tell you, between GSS and the “Other Option,” good luck finding love. Unless, of course, your life happens to play out like a Disney fairytale come true, in this case the perimeters being that you some how get locked into the library book stacks and ‘stud’ious   Prince Charming happens to need a book for his research project in the very same section you’re trapped in and comes to the rescue…unintentionally. Let’s not forget to mention that Prince Charming is probably also suffering from GSS, which means he probably doesn’t know how to feign interest in dating anyways.

Thus, the plight of the good student.  Sure we get straight A’s, and sure we’ll probably (hopefully) be CEO’s and top executives, your children’s professors, the person who invented that new contraption in your home that you simply can’t live without, the person who discovers the cure for cancer, that guy that won jeopardy, the woman who turned the world towards feminism, and the people who negotiated peace in the Middle East, but the point is, so will those students who don’t suffer from GSS. It’s all a mind game. The whole thing is a silly little mind game.  Don’t let it get to you.

 

And there you have it.  Appropriate considering the long nights of studying we college kids just survived, no?  Do you agree?  Do you also suffer from GSS and the “Other Option”? Let me know. Maybe we can start a help-group, but only after I get all of my homework for the next semester done, okay?

 

Yours truly,

tlc