I hosted friends at my house for the first time since I actually finished the living room floor. When a friend of my friend unexpectedly needed a place to spend the night, she stopped at my house to hang out before going home to bed. Let’s call her, B. B is around my age and she is struggling at life. She’s got good friends, a place to live, and a good heart, but otherwise she is lost. She was a little tipsy after a wedding and was very talkative.
First she wanted to look around my house – which was one hundred percent fine. I think it’s wrong if you don’t want to do that. Then, she started asking questions. She asked if my cousin and I were roommates. She asked about my rent. She asked how I decided to get a dog. She was basically asking how I adult.
I responded, of course, that no my cousin does not live with me. Charlie is my roommate. Just me and him. In the house that I own. She could not process how I was living by myself with my dog in a house that I own. I sat there contemplating how much I should share with a stranger. I decided to tell her the truth without going into the intimate details, and I have been thinking about my answers ever since.
How did I end up here?
To start, Charlie was sort of a spontaneous decision. One I do not regret at all, but would not encourage for everyone. I’ve written about that here. The drive home after picking him up included a long conversation with myself about the implications of the lifespan of a dog. It meant that Charlie was now a part of my life for the foreseeable future. Dogs are like children in a lot of ways. He’s a huge commitment, and I have to think about him before I make any plans or decisions.
How did I buy a house? That decision was three years in the making. There’s no definitive moment where I thought I was 100% certain that this was what I was “meant” to do. Deciding to buy my house was largely determined by other goals I already have for myself – to pay down my student loans as quickly as possible and to pursue the skills I’m developing at the job I currently have. When I verbalized this to B, I felt strong about my choices. The decisions I made to get to where I am were in pursuit of something I want to achieve. Ultimately, it came down to making the most of the opportunities that were available to me.
At work, I like to joke that there is no hand reaching out to us and that we really can’t pick the best solution available to us, only the least shitty one. Sometimes getting here felt like taking a lot of shitty options. Even now, I am amazed that someone could come into my home and see me as someone who has it together. Looking at myself through B’s eyes was, and is, an incredible reminder of what I’ve accomplished despite feeling like there’s still so much I need answered.
I struggled a lot my first few years out of college, and I’ve written about that on this little blog. I still ask myself if this is what I’m supposed to be doing or where I’m supposed to be living, but anyone in any circumstance is going to ask those questions. Everyone should ask those questions. The balance is between inaction and action. For me, taking action was spurred by wanting to be independent. I want to be free of student loan debt, and I want to live in a place that is mine where I can be creative and cozy.
I hope B got something out of what I said. If I can help other people struggling, I will try my hardest to do so. I think our society hasn’t done a very good job preparing us to be successful. I’m lucky to have had excellent parents that coerced me into being independent and fierce. My second sister just graduated, and my family had a discussion about how pumped up high school graduations have become. On the one hand, I respect the celebration of the end of childhood, but on the other – as my mom pointed out – graduating high school is, more than likely, one of the easiest things a person will do in his or her life.
Life is still throwing curve balls at me, and it will never stop throwing them. I am still struggling to make the right decisions for myself. Like struggling with both loving this small town life and being terrified of it. I find I keep reminding myself that the world is not as small as it seems here in this little town. I try to think of my house as my fortress or home base so that I know that I can still adventure and have new experiences.
A friend of the family said to me recently, “One of the greatest misdirections in life, is that being an adult will be easier.” Life definitely doesn’t slow down or get easier after high school. It changes and you learn from it, but the answers are never handed to you. You earn them. All of us go through this. I think more of us need to look around and ask people how they are doing and really mean it. Make sure they know it’s okay to not be okay because none of us are! Conversely, I think we need to look at ourselves through other people’s eyes and realize how good we have it too.
How did I end up here? A series of decisions that were 100% uncertain.