some nonfiction


Here are two pieces I posted recently on the Facebook (remember when it was called that?) concerning my very-real-and-very-valid quarter life crisis. I am in the full throes of my QLC, and I am reeling a little. These pieces were written within the last week and are still very much my feelings on the whole QLC business and what it feels like inside. I will post them in the order they were written. This will be a long post, but perhaps in all my verbiage, you will find something true to grab on to.

*

preface
so here’s the thing– i sort of experienced the beginnings of the beginning of a meltdown tonight. don’t worry, i was able to check myself before i wrecked myself. but the truth of the matter is, i still feel very unsettled.

part the one: job

i have not been in any kind of real career-type-job situation all year (sadly my internship doesn’t count, as i have to leave there at october’s end). the job market is a disaster, and who knows when it will be back up to snuff, etc. etc. i know, i know, am i a brilliant economist or what?

when i think about the job market and getting a job and my degree i start to wonder: manage an organization? is that really what i want to do? is that really what i’m cut out to do? is that really what i was born to do? i mean, people have to show me how to use a copier for crying out loud. (true story.)

i remember telling people before i went to grad school that i was choosing that degree program (nonprofit organizations) because i wanted to help people, {not because i wanted to manage an organization}. i can even remember talking about “helping people” in my classes. needless to say, my professional goal was the least sophisticated of them all.

granted, a nonprofit will fail without the right leadership, even with the best of intentions and the most passionate people out there trying to get things going. but i guess my fear is that i will be more and more removed from what’s going on “on the ground” if i were to end up in a management position.

so what if i don’t want to move up the ladder, what if i want to stay down close to the bottom where i could still reach everyone else? is there a career in that? is there food and rent in that? is there independence (the good kind, not the i-don’t-need-anyone kind)?

i can’t be picky. and the Scripture says i must give thanks in all circumstances. (yep, all of them. apostle paul don’t play.) and i am doing the best i can to be that way– thankful, prayerful, and joyful in my blessings, for they are many.

i have so many questions: am i really on the right path? if doors aren’t opening for me on this path, should i go to another one, or should i stay on this one? what if getting my degrees was its own path- a path that i have reached the end of- and now i have to go into a totally different direction? can i handle that? am i going to know which way is up?

going back to school– is that really an option? i mean that seems to be the knee-jerk reaction i get. and in a sense, i can see that– it’s something i know i can be successful at, and i love learning, but i have considerations with funding that may make it really hard for me to start on a whole new academic path. i don’t think vocational rehab makes allowances for identity crises, but maybe i should send an inquiry.

to start on a new job path, you need a new education path, and to start on that path, you need money, which you can only get if you have a job. 22 caught. moving on.

part the one-point-one: doing what i love

here are the things i love in my life:
my faith and my relationship with the Trinity
my family and friends
people
interacting with children and hearing what they have to say/trying to imitate their sweet, pure hearts
working at camp
going to cafes and meeting people/ by extension you can guess i love good coffee
nashville
reading
writing
laughing
music (sorry to use a cliché, but i really do mean this: last but *not by any means* least)

now, i have experimented with writing children’s books, and have looked into freelance writing, music blogging, and benefit concerts–but all of those are seeds planted that are going to take some time to grow and take shape.
and i love so many things and so many people that synthesis seems impossible to me.

just another tenet to the crisis: how do i do what i love when i love so much and so many, and when it takes so long to make something truly fit.

part the two: where am i

i am still here– i am still living, breathing, and deeply blessed and loved by G*d. He gives me every moment and i am so glad– but i am obviously feeling a little overwhelmed and uncertain about a lot of things. the professional path is the focus here, but as you can see, that has as much to do with my personal/emotional health as anything.

my confusion extends into relationships: i don’t pretend that life has not changed me in the past year– and i can only hope for the better– we humans are dynamic beings, growing and changing means we are living! but it is confusing– and when life and perspective changes, relationships change. so i am building and rebuilding and foraging the best i can, but it is difficult, and can be a lonesome toil indeed. you can never be sure when one will leave and another will come. you just have to make the best of what you can with the time you have. life is seasonal– and fall is here. so i might get the shivers, but it can still be a time of beauty, of change, of bursting colors.

part the three: mushy stuff
i still miss john, but i see him every day in my prayers. and i smile.

romance? ha! not at the moment-unless you know something i don’t- but life has a way of surprising us. at present, it is just another dimension of my confusion, albeit an entertaining one. i enjoy being single and figuring things and people and feelings out. i am happy with me and with what i have– so when things get rough and lonely, i try to look back to that, and to look Up.

epilogue.

things are alright- but they are not perfect. what i feel is connected to things that are very real. i have decided to accept the quarter-life crisis, and to feel its feelings. it is necessary, in order to see it through to the end, that i experience it in its fullness. i appreciate your prayers, your patience, your advice. your love. that most of all.

thank you for who you are.

end.

*

reinvention.

if it’s good enough for the beatles, prince, madonna, and michael jackson, then it’s good enough for me.

i got three or four more rejections today for jobs- one right after the other it seems. and i had my job placement person tell me that he was not sure what to do anymore. comforting, right?

but in the course of our conversation, teaching came up. several expressions of teaching, in fact:

substitute teaching
tutoring
getting a special type of certification for teaching using existing background and credits

i can see myself teaching. i mean, i love to learn and i love to help others– those are the two fundamental ingredients for making a teacher- forget the goofy sweaters… not happening.

the other thing that has come up after a discussion with my stepdad is going back to school to get a doctorate. now i have up-to-this-point been no less than repulsed by the idea of going back to school for a third time. but aside from the fact i know it is something i am comfortable doing, there’s also the added incentive of the fact that schools often pay the student’s tuition for the doctoral program, give them stipends and additional aid for living expenses, and in some cases, even provide them with health insurance. seems appealing to someone with no prospect of substantial income and an insatiable desire to reclaim her independence.

but i’m not an easy sell.

these sound like good ideas, good opportunities. but it’s not easy to accept having to re-form your identity, your life, your personal and professional goals– after being dedicated to one plan and one mission for years. i have loved working with nonprofits and serving others in a way that i’m not sure i could love any other professional pursuit. and i have dedicated years of my life within and without academia doing just that. to realize that i have failed realizing the goal of all my efforts time and time again is a humbling and painful feeling.

but it is becoming more and more obvious to me that i need to try another path- that this path, for whatever incomprehensible reason, may have reached its end.

that acceptance only appears to be “the tough part”, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. having claimed my failure, i must now adjust my entire approach. i must figure out what other passions and goals might resonate with me– what skills i could best use to reach those goals that i may never have connected with before. and in all that thinking, i have to come to grips with the fact that it may take years before i reach whatever new goal i decide to pursue (and the cynic within me can’t help but say, “who’s to say that you won’t have to go to school a fourth time? the job market could be worse by then- whatever goal you may have set for yourself may be obsolete and irrelevant by then.”)

so what is in order for me now? soul searching– plumbing the untouched parts, shining a light into the dark, cold nooks, finding new sources of heat and illumination. reinventing the wheel, finding a new axis on which to rest and turn with the world and the leaves.

i would appreciate your prayers, your love, and your grace during this time.

thanks for who you are.

——

“can’t you see that when i find you i’ll find me?” – joshua radin

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