One day I woke up thirty, hazy and terrified. Forget a quarter-life crisis. My real crisis came when I realized that everything I’ve learned thus far in life has been wrong. Sometimes the realizations are small – Playing piano IS cool and I wish I stuck with it. My hair IS different and makes me cool because it defines me. Learning another language IS cool, useful and would help my career. Dates aren’t (just) a gross, cockroach-looking fruit; they’re ACTUALLY delicious.
I’ve sweated everything from the smallest stuff to the largest stuff. I’ve buried my head in the sand when the small stuff became the extra-large stuff, and I nearly drowned in my own head while my heart stood on watching, laughing like a maniac. (The heart is an asshole. Really.)
In order to show you all the feels I’m feeling, I’d like to express myself via James Van Der Beek GIFs. It’s really the only way.
WHEN IT COMES TO JOBS
I work at an in-house Ad agency, where I get paid to write. Paid. To. Write. To some, that’s the dream. Creative services of any kind are tough, because everyone thinks they can do it. Everyone. Even the homeless population can put a sharpie to a piece of cardboard and garner some “brand presence” for themselves, right?
I fell in love with advertising when I was in 6th grade. It was a series of Snickers commercials that set me on that path.
Career-wise, I knew that I wanted to be funny. I wanted to be creative. I wanted to make people laugh and be in the limelight. Advertising was the marriage of all of those things.
People think the Ad world is like MadMen. It’s not. It’s the complete opposite these days, as the elegance of advertising and drinking whiskey in the office is pretty much long gone (well, as far as HR knows). Advertising is digital, competitive, and swarming with talent. So it’s important to set yourself apart.
But in grad school, the end goal was always to leave and head to a BIG agency. Swim with the big dogs. That’s not right. Sit at the table with the dolphins. Change a lion into a bear?
Metaphors are hard.
I’ve worked strictly in-house for the past four years, and here’s what I’ve learned when it comes to jobs (in general).
WHAT I THOUGHT:
Go bigger. Find better. You’re not happy. You’re not here to make friends. Work is work. You’re nothing if you’re not the big dog.
WHAT REALITY IS:
You’re enough. You’re where you’re supposed to be. You can still make a global impact on so many through your work, no matter where you are. Doing dope work is doing dope work. As long as you’re doing it, that’s all that matters. Also, having friends you get to work with everyday is everything. Positive work environments with amazing people is everything.
WHEN IT COMES TO FAMILY:
You know when you’re younger and your parent just wants to give you everything, and hang out with you on a Sunday? And you, cool you, is like, “Staaaaahp, Mom. I’m just tryin’ to do 13-year-old things, like hang out on AOL chat rooms and just live my life!”
You’re annoyed because your siblings want to go everywhere with you, or dress like you, or hang out with you and your friends, or just want to be around you. AND YOU, COOL YOU, is like, “Yo, guys. Chill. I don’t need you coming to the arcade with my cool friends and me and taking my cool meter down. Because I’m soooo much older and wiseeeer and like, totally the most cool.”
Can you feel me mocking our younger selves?
WHAT I THOUGHT:
Your family will always be there and things will never change. They will never abandon you and will always protect you. They’re like rolling with a constant gang, but a friendly gang that’s super into watching WWE on a Friday night or going on family trips. I am too cool to hang with my mom or my siblings. But, who cares, because they’ll just be there always and it’s no biggie.
WHAT REALITY IS:
Family is more complicated than Joey, Dawson and Pacey’s relationship.
My mom is a Superhero mixed with a Goddess. She’s the most supportive, loving, caring, annoying, judgmental, loving, judgmental, hard-working human being there is (pictured below, for dramatic effect).That has never changed. And I’m betting will never change. Mom-O-Tron (still working on her Superhero Goddess name) never changes, unless it’s just getting more awesome.
But sadly, things DO change. Just like when Pacey eventually left Joey and Dawson alone so he could go do Pacey things, such is life. People shift, grow, and stop wanting to hear what you have to say.
They develop their own method of thinking, feeling, and beliefs that can butt-heads with how you deal with them and how you feel about them. They don’t listen. They act like they maybe don’t care. Which is stupid, because they probably care more than anyone.
Then, much like when Joey refused to put the ladder out there for Dawson, your heart hurts. Then, you push the ladder over for good until your heart bursts into tiny flames, then into dust.
THEN (yes, there’s another step after heart combustion) you realize that family is a pretty blanket term. Your friends become your family. Your support system. Who you celebrate with, whom you cry with, whom you vent to and whom you share life moments with.
You create your own family. You build forts with them, you watch TV with them, you have Sunday night dinner with them.
And that’s ok.
WHEN IT COMES TO RELATIONSHIPS
You’re going to have a fairytale. Everything is a damned fairytale. Friendships are made of gumdrops that never stop falling from the sky, everyone is fair and kind, and relationships with another human being are more delicious and refreshing than a slice of apple pie and lemonade on a hot day.
Nothing is hard, because it relationships are easy because friendship and love and junk.
WHAT I THOUGHT:
Perfection is out there. The right people will never let you down. Making lists of demands of what I require in a human being, friendship or relationship-wise is totally normal. Compromise is bullshit. Hurt me once and I’ll leave you stranded in the middle of the lake, standing on a boat, contemplating “things.”
Friendship is about being there for both parties and never fighting. Love is about things. Having things. Striving to have more things. Both relationships brought together under the common believe that I should be allowed to be me, without any complaints from the peanut gallery.
WHAT REALITY IS:
Perfection is a lie. It’s not real. It’s less real than reality shows, the illusion you can control anything, and Santa. We’re all flawed. We’re all just a little bit jaded, broken, or at the very least, cracked in a few places. It’s not about perfection; it’s about finding who is perfect for YOU.
Love is not about things. Love is taking care of your significant other when they’re sick. Love is in the details. LOVE isn’t the dinners, the flowers, the movies, jewelry, and expensive vacations. It’s literally everything else. It’s sacrificing a Friday night to hangout with your family. It’s how they kiss the dog. It’s how they remember to bring home something you’re out of. They listen. They love you. And there’s literally no ”thing” that can compare to that.
Friendship is amazing. It’s a group of people, who just decide to be there for others with no strings attached. True, unbreakable, supportive, loving friendship is something so special. You choose them, they choose you. They come to every comedy show even though they’ve seen the material 800 times. They rehearse with you. They think of you first to have a wine-inspired dance party. They want the absolute best for you, because even when there are days when you don’t think you deserve it, they know you 100% do.
WHEN IT COMES TO LIFE
SPONSORED BY OUR GOOD FRIENDS, FEAR AND WORRY!
I always pictured my life a little differently. There are days I wake up going, “What the hell happened here!?” There are ALSO days where I wake up going, “What I’ve done in thirty years isn’t that bad.” And, finally, those great, amazing, far-and-few-between days where I wake up going, “AM I LUCKY, OR WHAT?”
What I’ve learned from my spirit animals, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling are that fear and worry are thieves of time and productivity as well as happiness and success.
Life is meant to be lived. To be enjoyed. To be squeezed to the last drop, like the last season of Dawson’s Creek. (Let’s be serious, we didn’t need that final season, ya’ll.)
WHAT I THOUGHT:
I’m not enough. None of this is enough. When will it be enough? When will I be content? Isn’t it bad to be content? When will these questions end and when will the fire in my brain be put out?
Am I happy now and I don’t even know it? Am I where I’m supposed to be? HOW WILL I KNOW?
WHAT THE REALITY IS:
I’m enough. You’re enough. We’re all where we’re supposed to be. We’re as happy as we’ll ever be, right now. So why the hell not enjoy it?
What Would Dawson Do?