I mentioned on Monday (in my review of “What Alice Forgot“) that I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. I was thinking about it before I read the book, although I’m not entirely sure what brought it on – it very well may be the fact that my 31st birthday less than one month away, or it could be that I just have this feeling that time is going by so, so fast.
And I don’t say that in the whole… conversational way of saying, “omigosh I’m just soooo busy, time flies!” It’s more as if, the days just go by soooo fast. One day it’s Monday, and before I can even realize it, it’s Friday. And then, Monday again, and the next thing I know, it’s 9 months later, and my lease is up, and my one-year review at my job is coming, and here I’ve lived in an entirely new place for legit almost a YEAR, and I still get excited when I don’t have to ask Siri for navigational assistance.
Like, what the hell is that about?
I know part of this whole time thing is Facebook, and I’m also fully aware that I blame Facebook for most of the world’s social problems, including but not limited to, cyber bullying, interpersonal communication skills, dating and relationships, and self-esteem. I sort of hate Mark Zuckerberg, and I kind of like hating him.
But anyway, I think Facebook is what’s brought to my attention just how fast time is passing by, and it’s made it hard and clear, that I’m getting older by the hour.
Many of you, my readers, have connected with me on Facebook, and I’m very thankful for that. But because of our online connection, I’ve literally been able to watch your lives from afar. I’ve seen you graduate from college, get engaged, married, have children, perhaps gone through divorce or relationship turmoil, and now, your children are not babies anymore, they’re actual humans who look like you and speak the same language we speak.
And me? I’m still sitting behind a laptop (the same exact one I was nine years ago), writing about the same things (my hatred of all men aside from John Mayer), and posting pictures of my cat anywhere I can. And I just have to wonder, is this where we’d all be if we’d asked ourselves ten years ago?
You know when you go on an interview, they’re likely to ask you where you see yourself in five to ten years. I’d venture to guess that 90% of the answers to that question are complete bullshit, because most people don’t have a fucking clue. Sure, we’ve all got hopes and dreams – where we’d like to see ourselves in five or ten years.
Ten years ago, I was going into my senior year at LSU. I had to take summer classes in order to graduate in a decent amount of time. So, I took classes from 7-12 each day, I had a two hour break to eat lunch, study, and crank out any writing (I was a news stringer for the university paper). Then, at 2 pm, I had a shift at the mall, at Abercrombie. My shift was 2-10, Monday through Friday, and that’s what I did every day. On the weekends, I studied.
If you would have told me that in ten years, I would have changed careers, working an entry-level job with a bunch of 23-year-olds way smarter than me, I would have dropped dead. I would have never believed that I’d moved to Austin, a place that ten years ago, I’d been to twice: once for SXSW, and once to meet up with a guy I had a crush on.
I also would be saddened to hear that ten years later, I’m still not at that point where I feel like I’ve got it together. While I am lucky enough to have a salary and benefits, I’m not financially organized. My apartment is rarely clean, and I spend every other Friday night at the laundromat. I’m single, and have grown quite fond of doing most things alone. I’m not well-traveled; instead, I teach night classes at the University of Texas.
Honestly, what on earth led to this life? It’s not a bad one, I’m not saying that; it’s just not the one I thought of, or planned for – I kind of feel like things just fell this way. And I wonder that about all of you – the ones I’ve seen over the years. Is this the life you created? The one you’ve dreamt of? Planned for?
My current job is tough – the toughest job I’ve had yet, and I think it’s also a big reason I’ve been thinking about time. I do more work in a week now than I think I did in a month at my previous job. It’s more high-pressure, very fast-paced, and I think it’s part of the reason why the weeks fly by as fast as they do.
The nature of my life right now makes me think a lot about who I am. Am I cut out for this environment? Was I meant for this job? Am I meant to be involved in something more creative? Given that most things in my life haven’t changed over the last decade: my relationship status, my checkbook, passport, available free time, etc., I kind of wonder if I’m living in the past.
Should I have given up this blog when it proved to not be a smashing success? Should I have stopped writing books when none of them sold? Should I stop pitching publications when I’ve yet to get a piece accepted? Should I stop taking dance classes when even the beginning ones leave me breathless and sore?
I mean, of course not. I am still very much navigating this life. It’s certainly not where I thought I would be – but I mean that in both good ways and bad. I know I was led to Austin for a reason; even if I’ve yet to discover it. And I know there’s a reason I’m still hunkered behind this ancient laptop (my last visit to the Genius Bar claimed it’s “vintage”), clacking away on a blog that, to a data analyst, would be worth nothing.
Tonight, I’m teaching my last blog class of the summer semester at UT. It was my first semester teaching in Austin, and I was refreshed to find my students were very eager to tackle the blogosphere. Last week, one of my students raised her hand and asked me the truth about being successful in blogging.
“It takes someone really extraordinary to make it,” she said.
I suppose, in several cases, that could be said about most hobbies and professions. But just like there are hundreds of thousands of food bloggers and mommy bloggers – there’s hundreds and thousands of doctors and authors.
The difference, I told her, is you. No one has the same outlook on this world as you. You have something that no one else has. As cliche as it sounds; that’s what it is. It meaning drive, passion, opinions, style, ability; whatever makes you the cream of the crop – that’s what determines your next ten years; your next twenty.
So, what is it? I’d love to hear from you about where you were ten years ago, where you hope to be in the next ten; twenty, and perhaps what you’re doing to get there. Let’s do it, and by it, I mean… something extraordinary.
PS. UT has already asked me to return for the fall semester. Cheers to the future!