Leaving the Nest (and finding happiness)

I have debated what part of the twenties age 26 is supposed to fall under since my birthday this past July. While 25 is obviously smack-dab in the middle and allows a person to officially say they are in their mid-twenties, where does 26 fall? It’s on the other side of 25, creeping toward 30, so I would be inclined to say it technically falls under the late-twenties category, but it’s not as late as say 27 or 28. If 26 is considered to be mid-twenties, would that make 24 part of the mid-twenties as well, or part of the early twenties? I feel like 24 is developmentally and socially younger than 25, so I want to say that it is part of the early twenties, but then that leaves the whole early/mid/late twenties number schemes unbalanced, and I like symmetry. So, 21 through 23 is early twenties, 24 through 26 is mid-twenties, and 27 through 29 is late twenties. 20 isn’t anything because it’s just 20. Oh… the inner-dilemma conversations I have with myself with I’m succumbing to social pressures left over from the 1970’s that have not adjusted with current times because the baby-boomers have not all died off yet (along with our social security).

Basically, one year later, I’m still emotionally flip-flopping between leveling up my adult achievements at a slower pace than expected and realizing that for a person my age, with the achievements I have already accomplished in this modern age, I am actually right on schedule. So, one month ago, I decided to move out of my parents’ house, with barely enough money to save for emergencies at the end of the month and no way to continue to make payments on my student loans. (But I have a saving account, so you can exhale now.) It’s not as scary as I thought it would be, maybe because I already had a taste when I moved to Galway, Ireland for graduate school, to a place where I knew no one and had never visited before. I call that “ballsy”. It wasn’t a permanent move, though. I attempted to stay in Ireland, but the distinct lack of a job drove me back to the states. However, this time it’s permanent. My mother isn’t too thrilled, but I hope she understands. And instead of being a 10 hour flight away (approximately, including layovers), I’m a 45 minute drive away.

Leaving the “nest” and finding happiness are not necessarily intertwined for me, but I realized that for all of my twenties, I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to do with my life AND dancing around the very thing I’ve already known I’ve wanted to do for the rest of my life simultaneously. I want to write, novels mainly, but I just want to be a full-time creative writer. My mission now is to find a job for the interim that will allow me the time to work on my future career, and support my ass and my student loan debt…and maybe be able to make some money on the side selling my photography. So, at the same time, I have to carve a path to get me to being able to work full-time at my passion and I have to carve another path that will allow me to not live paycheck to paycheck by finding a better job.

The dual-task of path-carving two huge adult decisions overwhelms me at times, but I’m hoping that moving out of my parents’ house and closer to a place where I have many friends in the creative field will aid in my endeavors. At the same time, I’ve made a promise to myself to stop comparing everything I do to other people, as a point to help me become happier with my life. One of my writer friends wisely put it as, “comparing my blooper reel to their highlight reel”, and she’s absolutely right; for all the major life achievements and fame so many writers and photographers have accomplished throughout history, their beginnings are rarely ever told. Their struggles are rarely acknowledged. Whenever I get discouraged, I think about that fact and what some of my favorite authors endured to support their passion and I instantly feel better.

This current life-journey would not be as easy without Dennis, my love, my creative equal, and eccentric other-half. It’s such a blessing to have found someone who brings out confidence and an imagination that I never knew I had within myself. He effortlessly instills a drive in me for success that I have never felt before and has just over all been a constant source of happiness. He keeps me on my toes, which is something I seriously lacked in all my previous relationships: I grew bored too easily because of a lack of mental stimulus and a lack of common interests. He’s patient and super understanding with my bi-polar mood swings, which helps me understand them better and calm myself down tremendously. He does not put me down in front of his friends and he gives without a sense of misogynistic entitlement. He makes the prospect of the unknown future exciting, not terrifying. I’ve always envisioned such a relationship, but I never believed one existed or would come my way before, yet I kept trying anyway. He makes this whole “moving out” process so much easier.

Looking back at my quarter-life crisis post, not many of my feelings have changed, except I feel much more centered and have a much clearer vision of where I am going. Finally. It’s nowhere near where I thought I would be by this point when I envisioned my future life back in high school, but truthfully, I had no idea back then either; I just wrote some shit on a piece of paper that would sound ambitious to my teacher.

Keeping with tradition, here’s a look back at some of the highlights of my 25th year:

  • Made the Dean’s list all 4 quarters of my teaching credential.
  • Getting a raise at my current job and taking on more responsibilities.
  • The amazing South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia summer trip with an amazing gal-pal.
  • Seeing a good friend from graduate school for the first time in two years and listening to her sing “Hey Mambo, Italiano” at karaoke for my birthday in Savannah, Georgia.
  • Ghost hunting in Savannah Georgia.
  • Capturing some amazing pictures.
  • Taking up archery.
  • An awesome trip to Calico Ghost Town with some of the same Meetup.com friends I met over a year ago.
  • Meeting other independent filmmakers and working on my first official film project,
  • Finishing the Bridge to Nowhere trail and not dealing with knee pain afterward.
  • Reconnecting with two friends from college who were also writing majors.
  • Reestablishing a writing critique group with those same college friends and classmates.
  • Breaking-up with my ex.
  • Meeting Dennis, the love of my life, and every single adventure we have had together so far.
  • Keeping my goal for my 25th year and going above and beyond what I imagined it to be.

Here’s to my 26th year. Cheers, you crafty son-of-a-bitch.

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