the water got high and she never got dry

Monday, March 20, 2006

life in slow motion

As a grad student, sometimes it’s hard to feel like a full-fledged adult rather than an oversized kid. I get tired of being on a tight budget, moving from one apartment to the next, and never really being off the clock. I want an adult life, complete with job and house and family.

Time spent with the Boy’s extended family and looking at places to live this past weekend made anticipated pleasures of hearth and home very salient. Half a day with two very cute kids resulted in both some biological clock tickage and an immense gratitude for my childless state. Just watching parents at work is tiring, what with the crying and running, the delicate heads that could hit sharp table corners, the grabby hands that reach for cake knives, and on and on.

I’m somewhere in between “can’t wait” and “so grateful to be footloose and fancy free”. But the sweet chaos of kids and dogs and family in a nice house and a yard that neighbor kids cut through does tug at me.

The Boy and I have our eye on some swanky condos and even though we probably won’t go with the one with vaulted ceilings that I drooled over, we’ll probably end up with something pretty similar, with a deck and a big kitchen and all sorts of nice things I’ve been going without. The Boy and I are so excited about finding new digs and making a new home together. So as much as I want a house, I am happy to not yet be dealing with all the hassles that come with home ownership.

I’ve been obsessed with job titles lately, how people got to be VP this and director of this and such and such manager. This poll at Be the Boy got me to thinking about it even more, what people do as opposed to what they'd like to do.

Now that I’m no longer on the professor track, the sky’s the limit on what I can be when I grow up, but I’m going to have to be creative. Even more than job titles, I’m fascinated with people who are doing exactly what they want to be doing, getting paid for their passions. Doing something I love is so much more important to me than title or salary.

Grad school makes it easy to feel like you’re running in place, stuck in an extended youth, not always the good kind. But the feeling of life being on pause is deceptive. I know people whose lives actually are going nowhere, stuck in one of an endless string of dead-end jobs, lacking the ambition to do anything else and content to forever do what’s easy and boring. I’m lucky enough to be in a very different place and I’d much rather be slaving away at school for just a little bit longer, with a purpose and a dream, than be some spoiled slacker brat.

Sometimes it feels like this phase of my life is just a holding pattern, but I realize that it’s not. Every time I ask myself what I'm doing here and when the hell I'm getting out, I have to remind myself that both personally and professionally, I’m building something, and every day is taking me one step closer to having everything I want.

It's nice that I can eagerly look forward to the house and the job and the kids and the white picket fence and still be pretty content not to be paying a mortgage, dealing with the stress of a high power job, or being woken up every few hours by a crying baby.

There’s something to be said for renting a condo, 4 months of vacation, going out for drinks whenever I want, and having my worst sleep disturbance be the occasional early morning yowl of the cat.

What about you guys? Do you remember the first time you felt like a full-fledged adult? Still working on it? What about jobs? Do you love/hate/tolerate what you do? If you love what you do, please share how you got so lucky!

3 Old Comments:

This was a really well written post. It echoed so much of what I feel and I am sure what other people in the mid/late twenties age bracket feel, so know that you're not alone in this not quite feeling like an adult mentality (as well as the somewhat irksome biological clock tickage).

Last year I got tired of a dull job with no joy, quit that and moved to another city. I'm still working out the issues, it's been a long year in many ways, but I have to say I love what I am doing now. It was always a dream to do it and even though I don't quite have the full time job yet, and I had to go back to school to get a grad degree, I know it will be well worth it because I really enjoy going to work and doing what I do.

And I would definitely say I am lucky. But only because I took a big risk and luck was on my side and it paid off. It could have gone the other way where nothing worked out.

But I'll quote Homer Simpson anyways: "Stupid risks are what make life worth living."

By Blogger serially single, at 7:47 AM  

It's very cool that you love what you do and that you had the guts to take big risks. And it's always good to draw from the Simpsons for advice! For instance, how else would we know that "Money can be exchanged for goods and services!"

By Blogger felicity, at 8:28 PM  

Great post! I felt like an adult when I lived on my own for the first time. I also felt like an adult today when I sat down and discussed pensions and mortgages! Jaysus! I did however feel like an adult recently when I realised that I didn't want to be in an accidental career that I half liked when I knew what I truly wanted to do. I think you're fab - I'm sure the kiddies will be next ;-) Joking!

By Blogger NML, at 12:20 PM