The First Week of the Rest of My Life
On the first day of my first job in the first month of my post-college life, I arrived early. Those of you who know me well know that this is a huge feat. I’ve never been early anywhere, ever. If we agree on meeting at 9, you can just go ahead and plan for 9:05. I blame my chronic tardiness on my personality, my genetics (hi mom), my short stature that really just makes it hard to walk quickly, okay? Geez.
So there I was at 8:45 a.m. Not only was it new for me to arrive early, it was anxiety-inducing. I didn’t know what to do with myself for the fifteen minutes I spent waiting in the ninth floor lobby for someone from Corporate to lead me into an orientation room. I felt a tap on my shoulder; another new hire had entered the room; we introduced ourselves to each other.
More college grads trickled into the room before we were whisked into “The Rocketship,” a conference room at the top of the Metroplex, 2U Inc.’s headquarters. We learned about the company’s product, mission, tactics and goals. We were officially 2Utes.
As we were guided through the building, we received laptops, ID badges, and notepads before we found our desks. I was the only new hire in my department; I spent the rest of the day meeting others on my team, learning about different departments and trying to scribble important notes I could catch.
I took the metro home, where I arrived at my basement apartment and opened the door to a bedroom full of boxes I had yet to unpack. It was only 6:30 p.m., and I was exhausted. I heated up some enchiladas from the fridge, pushed the boxes off my bed, and settled under the covers to eat my leftovers while starting Season Four of Girls.
I wish that I could say I eventually got up and unpacked, that I introduced myself to the neighbors, that I did something even marginally productive, but I did not. Not even the next night.
On the second, third and fourth nights I continued in my newfound binging until I ran out of enchiladas and finished the entire series of Girls.
I bought a month-long MetroCard hours before I found out that my stop is closed for the rest of June due to construction.
I went for a run and got lost until I gave up and walked home.
I left my ID card at home and couldn’t use the bathroom unless someone swiped me back into the office.
* * *
My inescapable failure at the simplest parts of adulthood have me feeling like I left college before I was ready. How can I be ready for adult life if I can’t figure out how to set up the wifi? If I can’t muster the energy to introduce myself to people on my street? If I can’t eat something other than leftovers?
The truth is, I don’t want an adult life. I don’t want an adult apartment. I don’t want adult friends. I miss my life, my apartment, my friends. None of this feels like it's mine. I imagine this trifecta as forever out of reach, just like the cabinet above my stove that I’ll never open because I don’t have a stool or a roommate who can reach it for me.
This is what I wanted all along, right? All the nights during college where I felt a need for something more than partying, than all-nighters in the library, than friends who are no longer even my acquaintances. I wanted this, but I only wanted the exciting parts - the fancy bars, the museums, the political centrifuge that is Capitol Hill. I just never thought about the loneliness, the responsibility, the distance from the people I love.
Just like my last post about people who do things before they are ready, I had to pep talk myself into accepting my situation the way it is.
I could have told myself “it is what it is, it will be what I make of it.” I could have repeated the serenity prayer until I reached some sort of intangible wisdom - that’s what happens, right? I could find a yoga class, I could restart Girls, I could buy a one-way ticket home.
But none of those things are going to help; I’m smart enough to know that.
* * *
Every time I get off the phone with my dad, he signs off with “be huge.” Not “see you soon,” or “take care,” because he knows I know those things. He also knows I need a reminder to “be huge.”
If you’re wondering what that means, think about a time you’ve felt small. Whether you put others’ needs before yours, or you didn’t voice your opinion, it’s likely that you let yourself behave in a way that made you small. Physically, spiritually, emotionally, we all do it.
Being huge is about fulfilling your needs, your desires, without letting friends or fears get in your way. Being huge means saying yes, it means showing up early, it means recognizing that you, your body and your mind are worth the effort.
Unlike the other remedies to self-doubt that focus on praying or planning or perceiving, “being huge” is all about being. It’s about mindful awareness of your daily activities, making choices that are good for you, and realizing that self-indulgence isn’t bad. It’s about accepting the bad thoughts, but not focusing on them.
Being huge is realizing that my parents are right more often than I’d like to admit, so I should go ahead and accept it now.
Being huge is doing the adult things anyway. And kicking ass at it.
Yeah, I’m going to get lost, I’m going to oversleep, I’m going to forget my ID badge. I can’t be good at all of the things. I’m young. We’re all young. We’re all getting lost and oversleeping and forgetting.
But I’m also going to walk to the market on the corner North Carolina Avenue and 11th and buy an expensive wedge of cheese and a bottle of wine because I’M AN ADULT, DAMMIT.
And then I’m going to sit in the park and toast myself for surviving the first week of adulthood even though I will probably also lock myself out of my apartment at some point this month.
So cheers to us. Cheers to the hustle. Cheers to being huge.