Hi all. So you may have heard from our About page, not to mention that little blurbidy-blurb down there at the bottom of this here page that I recently graduated from college and now find myself in a…confused sort of situation.
Of course, it’s common for a lot of recent grads to move back home after graduation. Get a job, save money, build a little nest egg before getting out there for real. All that jazz. And that’s sort of what I’ve done recently.
The only difference? I have the house alllll to myself (A quick message to all you creepers out there before I move on: Beware. I have an extensive network of neighbors. Big, burly neighbors who will call the police and/or hit you with blunt objects if you come lurking. And I keep a large collection of pepper spray right next to the aluminum baseball bat under my bed. So don’t even think about it. Plus, the most valuable merchandise we’ve got is probably our 15-year-old TV. But hey, who wouldn’t want some of that action?).
Yep. It’s just me, Jake (a very large, ferocious, and overprotective Labrador Retriever), and a liquor cabinet packed with half-full bottles of vodka and who knows what else (my dad gets excited about bartending when we host dinner parties. He just keeps buying the stuff, uses half of it, and the rest just sits in there).
It’s like an 80s coming-of-age movie waiting to happen, isn’t it?
I don’t know. Am I too boring? (Maybe.) Too tame? (Yes.) Am I a seventy-year-old cat lady in a 22-year-old’s body? (God, I hope not.) Is it so BAD that my idea of a good time involves an Ina Garten cookbook and a classic rock playlist? (Don’t answer that.)
Things had been going so well. I came out of school, spent a summer in Beijing, and got a long-term traineeship at an international agency there for six months doing brand consulting and strategy. I had a desk. I had a computer. I had my own phone extension and a company email address. Plus, I had a really boss desk setup right near the communal kitchen for convenient tea and coffee access. Pretty fancy, right?
It was creative work, and there were a lot of really great people. I made some good friends, and most of all, I was contributing. It totally wasn’t what I imagined a traineeship to be at all. Three of the agency’s strategists left early on for various reasons, and I ended up working with one other consulting colleague (a recent trainee herself) on all of our projects. We had so much independence! We were working on multi-million RMB accounts!
And then, the iron fist of the Chinese government blew that whole thing out of the water with their pesky rules and regulations. Basically, when the company went to hire me full-time, it was discovered that a work visa couldn’t be obtained for anyone with less than two years of post-graduate work experience.
So I decided to come back to the U.S. to regroup for a while. Go into full-on hermit mode and figure out my next move.
I’ve been on the job search of course. Through all the applications, the job fair (just the one. It was a traumatizing experience that I would rather not repeat), the introductions and the dead ends…it’s been a singularly depressing endeavor. Luckily, I’ve been able to do some freelance work, so I’m not totally in the red or anything.
But through it all, I can’t help but feel like I really don’t like working for someone else. I know that’s somewhat naïve to say…the poor little 22-year-old doesn’t want to get a real job (#firstwordproblems). But one of my friends from China sent me this quote a few weeks ago: “If you’re not working to fulfill your own destiny, you’re working to fulfill someone else’s.” And that really hit me.
Needless to say, the existential crises are a weekly occurrence.
But beyond the extended pause that my career has taken, daily life around here has at times become this sort of strange partial pantomime of what I imagine suburban house-wifery to be. In between the job search, the occasional freelance job, the blogging, the reading of entrepreneurship books, and whatever else I’ve been getting myself into, there’ve been a lot of regular old tasks that come with keeping up a house. Walking the dog, vacuuming floors, making sure that we’re well-stocked with cleaning supplies and paper towels, shooting the breeze with the neighbors when dragging out the recycling on Thursday nights, trying (and mostly failing) to keep up with the weeds that crop up on the walkways around the house, sorting through the mail, and flipping through the monthly Valu-pack of local coupons for possible red-hot deals on gutter cleanings or lawn care.
It shouldn’t be this way!
I am a YOUNG person! A very young person with things to DO. A very young person with things to do who’s certainly NOT on her way to an eternity of house cleaning and well-worn elastic waistbands.
Plus, not gonna lie…at night, this place gets a little creepy. We live in a slightly more rural than average suburb. As in, we’ve got a couple strip malls, but we also have quite a few farms. Our street gets pretty dark after 9:00, and that’s when things get quiet. Too quiet. Right now, as I sit here typing up this post at around 11:15, I have to keep the TV on in the background to prevent myself from randomly going into fight-or-flight mode (REMEMBER, creepers: Baseball. Bat.).
The great paradox is, I kinda sorta like living here. It feels like home (because duh…it IS home). But at the same time, I feel like I’m in the middle of a transition period, where everything is so painfully uncertain. All the errand-running, house cleaning, and dog walking is just amplifying that feeling. Like I’m in some early adult purgatory of hellfire and grocery store circulars.
Sigh. Things need to change, fast. And I guess that’s on me.