United In Struggle

A common question kids are asked is what they want to be when they grow up. As teens, that question becomes, “What do you want to do after high school?” (usually, the expected answer is college and little more than that). As an adult, the question is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Or any number of years, but I’ve mostly heard five.

For me, the answer is: I don’t know.

While I’m not one to think life just happens with zero control over its events, I don’t think in the other extreme of having absolute control over everything. My life certainly has not gone as planned, and I do not mean solely my adulthood. My life has been going unplanned since my childhood days. While I’m not entirely ungrateful, it’s only because the end result is I lived through it to reach what I’m happy to have now. And even that can be counted on one hand.

Something I have noticed with my co-workers is almost everyone either attends college or has a second job. The former is obvious, but in the case of the latter, it’s simply because it’s that hard to manage for them. And of the jobs I know, their first ones aren’t what’s usually considered low-paying. On one occasion, I also had a customer mention he works three jobs. Why? To pay his mortgage. Even my former clinician, who is well-established in her career of 10+ years as a psychologist by now, has told me she and her husband resides in his family’s home because they struggle financially otherwise.

That is truly terrifying to me, even more so than having nothing planned to begin with. I understand what they do is out of necessity, but merely one job for me creates feelings my life is slowly descending into a meaningless existence of work and sleep. To need to hold two or three to survive? I question if passing life in a coma would be preferable. I suppose those examples emphasize everyone has it hard in some way, but that’s little comfort to me. I do not want to have the same struggles at 33 I’m having at 23.

If someone were to ask where I see myself in five years, I truly couldn’t answer. Any position I’ve gotten myself in, especially my job, has been unexpected. If someone asked me in 2015 where I saw myself in 2016, the answer would not have been anything close to working. The truth is I cannot see myself in any position I’m not currently in or haven’t been in previously. Until it happens, I subconsciously believe it can’t happen.

Perhaps this is another discovery of adulthood taking me by surprise and I’m slow at keeping up. At 23, I feel as if I haven’t aged a day past childhood, despite my life as it stands resembles nothing of my childhood (and I’d have killed myself by now if it did). In the end, many things feel very confusing and I’m uncertain if they’re supposed to feel any other way. The one thing I’m certain of is no matter how much I learn, how much better I supposedly become, I still feel like I know absolutely nothing. That makes no sense, and as far as I can tell, neither does much else.

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