27 Thoughts On The Day Before My 27th Birthday
1. I didn’t think I would ever have a job that didn’t involve pretending not to be hungover while getting yelled at by customers. Whether I was in retail, food service, administrative positions, or whatever, I felt for the longest time that I was doomed to be customer-facing. I learned, after a while, that it’s actually some sort of measurement of professional success, how far you are from the walk-in customer. I don’t know that I feel any less stressed, but it’s weird sometimes to realize that you actually have to go through a few steps to talk to me now, instead of just walking in the door and barking orders at me.
2. The pressure that comes from a job with more responsibility occasionally makes you nostalgic for those jobs you could just walk away from. But not having to perform the emotional labor of being the dancing monkey for whatever asshole walks through the door is enormous.
3. I was fired from nearly every job I had before I became a writer. I used to think I’d never actually be good at a job, but I now know that you will be good at a job as soon as you actually care about it. If I can make career progress, it seems likely that anyone can.
4. Getting fired is not the end of the world. No matter how devastating it feels in the moment, you can always move forward (and even upward, if you work hard enough).
5. This is going to be the year I get into investing (and not by handing Marc some money and saying “do whatever is smartest with this,” which I know is not a sustainable/healthy move). This is going to be the year I actually understand what the hell I’m doing and put it into practice, and I will document it here. I finally feel that I understand enough about it from running this site to really get started in earnest, I just have to do it.
6. I feel very insecure around women my age who already have robust investments, and actually understand them. I don’t like feeling insecure around people, especially for something as easily-remedied as this. Maybe that means that I’m getting serious about investing at least in part because of a sense of competition, but who cares? The ends (me being smart with my money) justify the means in this case, I think.
7. A little envy/insecurity is healthy, I think, if it pushes you to be better in your own life. Maybe you started something because you’re a little bit of a petty asshole, but in the end, if your whole life is better for it, you still kind of win.
8. Recognizing the feeling of envy towards other women has been very healthy for me this year, actually. Because once you realize it and embrace it, it can’t hurt you. You can use it to your advantage. Telling a woman I was jealous of how amazing she seemed was one of the biggest hurdles I crossed in 2015, and now we are friends.
9. I also fell out of touch with a few people this year, and it honestly felt good. It felt like a relief to say “we’re not really close anymore, and it’s not a big deal.” I’m not going to be invited to a wedding of someone I used to be really close with (I don’t think, anyway), and it’s not upsetting at all. In fact, I feel good that she doesn’t feel obligated to extend an invite even though we have seen each other once in the past few years. I had someone ask “You don’t think you’re invited? Isn’t that weird?” But it’s not. And if we didn’t have Facebook, I literally wouldn’t even be aware that a wedding was happening. And it feels good to let the natural progression of things happen, and realize that it doesn’t have to be hurtful, or mean that you hate each other/had some falling out. Sometimes things just fade.
10. I genuinely don’t think I ever want any kind of formal wedding ceremony/reception, and the more weddings I attend, the more I feel affirmed in that decision. I definitely want a party/trip with close friends and family, but the white dress, the cake, the printed menus, the walking-down-the-aisle, the maids and men — it all does nothing for me. Sometimes I feel defective in that, but most of the time, I just feel relieved that I won’t have to spend money on it.
11. When I really consider it, I think what I’m “allergic to,” romantically speaking, are things that seem predefined, rather than organically chosen by people based on their unique tastes. A white dress is what you “should” do, but do people even want them? I feel the same about romantic gestures that seem pulled out of a romcom. Does she even like roses? Does she want the grand declarations written on a piece of poster board? Maybe she does. But I don’t. And I also think that this is what ends up leading you to spend unnecessarily. This idea that things have to “look” a certain way when they’re special. Who gives a shit what it looks like, if you’re happy?
12. I went from being certain about what my work life would look like over the next few years, to not being certain at all. I don’t know where I’m going to be living, or what TFD will look like, or anything else about professional/logistical stuff. This is at once terrifying and freeing, because it’s much harder to be disappointed when you don’t have that perfect image of what you want in the first place.
13. Getting a dog was maybe the best decision of my last year. But I also realize that my conditions were perfect for dog-ownership. I think working from home basically necessitates that you get a pet. Otherwise, you sort of start to slip into a depressive state where you have no one left to be accountable to, and a pet adds both love and structure. Thank god for Mona.
14. You don’t have to say yes to every job, or pick between jobs based on nothing but money. Once you get over the idea of “hoarding money at all costs,” you can start to make smarter choices based on who you are and what you really want out of your work life. There is much more to quality of life than how much money you make, and your free time is probably number one on that list. Find the balance.
15. I remember the first time I said “no” to a gig, and it was this year. It was probably the biggest step in the right direction for my career health and overall quality of life.
16. Let mean people be mean. Let assholes say asshole things. Let people lash out. Step back, talk to a friend, close your computer, cool off. Think about what you really stand to gain from retaliating, and realize that no one who behaves in that way is anyone you want to be engaging with in the first place, and therefore their opinion doesn’t matter. Let them have it, because you don’t need it.
17. I need to shop at Trader Joe’s more. I really don’t embrace TJ’s enough, because I have to take a (very convenient!) metro trip there, and I’m extremely lazy about places I can’t walk to. But every time I go to TJ’s, I’m blown away by how much I can get for my dollar, particularly compared to my local store, Fairway. (Which is very good but weirdly bougie.)
18. I need to branch out in terms of cooking, but it is so hard to break out of your routine, and sometimes it feels like “already enough of an accomplishment” to be the kind of person who cooks most nights, so you don’t feel the urgency to experiment. I have my go-to list of about a dozen dishes, which is good, but there are so many things I look at and think “wow, I should make that,” and never do.
19. On the other hand, is there anything less appetizing/more Generally Bad than those autoplay Facebook recipes? I swear, there is something so infuriating about the idea of “let’s get Americans into cooking more,” starting with “how many calorie-bomb, processed-from-start-to-finish, Pillsbury biscuit-based monstrosities can we get them to make?” Why could this not be an opportunity to show how to make things from scratch — super easy things that would save people so much money and perhaps get them somewhat in touch with their food? Ugh. Fuck those awful videos.
20. About once a month, I have the “maybe one day I’ll open a restaurant” thought, and then immediately remember that, no, I absolutely have neither the work ethic nor the stomach for that kind of job. At the first sign of crisis (which can happen essentially every day in the food industry), I’d be done.
21. Maybe I will go to culinary school, though.
22. It probably sounds odd, but I genuinely get more pleasure from cooking at the end of the day than I do from writing (which I love, and is my career). But I have realized that most of this probably comes from the fact that I have to write for money, and pretty much anything you do for your full-time job, no matter how much you love it, becomes a little tedious and frustrating. For this reason alone, I think I should never cook for money.
23. I’d like to force myself to write more for pleasure. I’ve totally abandoned my Tumblr, and that feels more like a failure than pretty much anything.
24. Putting shit on calendars is invaluable. Pretty much everything I’ve pulled off with some manner of panache or excellence this year has been largely because of forcing myself to remember details via Google Calendar reminders.
25. Maybe I should put “write whatever you are thinking right this minute onto Tumblr” on my reminders.
26. I fell in love with new people this year, platonically and professionally and even from afar. I gained a new partner in Lauren, and it’s shaping up to be one of the most definitive relationships of my life, in addition to Marc. And I feel extremely blessed to know, from firsthand experience, that the people and loves and partnerships that define us can come in many forms, and that you don’t just have to pick one person and “settle down.” We can continue growing in all directions, continue creating new things that are greater than the sum of our parts, continue adding to the web of all the connections that make us who and what we are. And forming those profound connections — friends, colleagues, family, and otherwise — only make our romantic bonds stronger, because they are not in competition, as we are sometimes led to believe. Everyone grows together, into fuller, richer people.
27. I believe that this year will be my best yet, and I will make it so.
Image via Unsplash