Sunday, March 24, 2013

Living with Certainty

I’ve been back from seven months of traveling for about seven months now and working at one organization for about six of them – so this has inadvertently become a not-traveling blog. 18 months after graduating college, I finally got a job that is a dream-job-at-this-stage-in-my-career, and I have a space of my own, and things are really, genuinely good.
Back in sophomore year of college, when I was looking for summer internships for the first time and feeling anxious, I decided that a basic tenet of adult life was learning to live with uncertainty. And for so long, not knowing whether and when I’d be employed and how things would all work out, that was my refrain. There was a period there where I wasn’t sure what country I’d be in next. (Though, you know, I usually had a pretty good idea. I was never really a proper backpacker drifting in and out of hostels and countries.)
As stressful as it was, there’s adrenaline and rawness to searching for a job – a feeling of living right on the edge of your version of the known world. There’s a sense of endless possibility, even if it’s clouded by anxiety – every time you see a promising listing on Idealist and get your hopes up, you’re trying on a different life.
Now that I’ve attained the holy grail of my post-collegiate life (a real, live 9-to-5 – be still my heart!) (I’m not being sarcastic; I am genuinely thrilled by this) things have switched up, and I’ve found that I have to learn to live with stability, with certainty. With living my daily life as it is instead of always looking for, trying to conjure up, what’s next. It’s weird to be looking down an indefinite span of days that will all be roughly similar, without the natural rhythms of the academic year to provide purpose and punctuation, rising and falling action. It’s also scary, in a way – you got what you wanted; is it living up to what you imagined it would be? And it’s given me the mental space to step back from the short-term pursuit of employment to consider the bigger questions about where my career and life are headed, and that’s a bit daunting, too.
None of that is to say that I would switch places with my unemployed self (at least the unemployed self who’d returned to America). But I’m afraid that certainty will make it easy to become stagnant, and I’ll find myself looking up from my desk in five years and wondering where the time went. So I’ve resolved to use my rootedness for pursuits that were harder to pursue when I was itinerant or devoting all my free mental space to finding a job, to invest in the daily life I worked to achieve, to stay aware and awake, to grow in place.