Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Quarter-Life Musings...

Perhaps because my SECOND (!) college reunion is mere days away, I'm starting to feel a quarter-life crisis coming on...

When I began college, I believed I had the perfect friends, the perfect boyfriend, and was attending my perfect school. Very shortly thereafter, the fallacy of the American teenage experience revealed itself to me: Working hard your entire existence and gaining entry to your perfect school is NOT, in fact, a guarantee of a free-riding, idyllic's simply a fresh start, with foreign rules to play by, and new people to impress. Truthfully, it marks the beginning of an endless cycle you're forced into for the rest of your life, which rears its ugly head each time you begin a job, introduce yourself to a new person, or embark on a different adventure. Some people expect or adjust to this realization better than others.

As for me, in my first year of college I lost my way. Then, blessedly, found it again when I least expected. Finally realizing that life could sometimes be the best or most poignant when it happened outside of my control, I nixed my post-graduation plans of spending two years in France (two years that, had I gone, would be wrapping up in just a few months' time...), followed by (hopefully) a PhD program in Art History, and, thus, my picture-perfect life as a professor. I do believe this was the right decision. But I think now about what has happened in my life in the past two years while living in New York, and compare that to what might have been had I spent that time in France instead. And how would I feel at this exact moment if I knew I was PhD-bound, rather than merely hoping for a promotion in my current job?

Tonight I had dinner with a group of Princeton classmates that, among other attributes, are working at the New Yorker, have just returned from a year in Asia and Africa, are Columbia and Yale grad students, have recently been awarded Fulbrights, are playwrights whose work is being produced in NYC, and conductors who are apprenticing with important orchestras. I am proud of and inspired by these friends, yet I can't help but wonder how (or if) I contribute to THEIR lives and make THEM proud to know ME. Princeton Reunions, for all of their fun, will only cause more of these questions and insecurities.

Have the decisions I've made in the last two years been the right ones? How will I choose to navigate my future? Should I try to live my life with eventual goals in mind? Like living in Europe full-time before my 20's are over...Or will the goals I make today seem irrelevant a year from now? In high school, I had the same English teacher in 9th and 11th grades. Both years she assigned my class to write "Life Lists," synonymous with "bucket lists." In 11th grade I referred back to my 9th grade list and scarcely understood how I could have wished for any of those goals only two years prior; if I reviewed my 11th grade list today, I would doubtless laugh at my naievete.

I have a lot to think about as I contemplate my plans for the summer, and how those might prepare me for the decisions I will make in the Autumn. Until then, I guess I need to focus on the small, pleasant things that will make me happy no matter my position or location in life. Thanks, Kate Spade, for your brilliant windows and your refreshing philosophies:

"Rent a Tandem" // "Learn to Hula"

"Cool Your Heels" // "Go Local"

"Cocktail Anywhere" // "Look Up"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oi. Parabéns por seu excelente blog. Gostaria de lhe convidar para visitar meu blog e conhecer alguma coisa sobre o Brasil e nossa luta contra o comunismo. Abração