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Just a Boy & His Subaru

On a Journey to Find Themselves

Tag Archives: twentysomething

It becomes increasingly more difficult to sit down and write regularly.

Or such is my excuse.

Realistically, there’s no one reason I’ve not taken my time to sit down and write. Actually, so much has happened in the past month that I’ve wanted to write about, it’s a little embarrassing I haven’t already.

To touch on a previous post, sometimes life just gets away from you like that.

Here’s the really big stuff: a very close friend of mine came out to Colorado to find a place in Denver and ended up taking shelter with me. It’s been reaffirming. Then, as if she was a good luck charm (disregarding my persistence), I was offered a position with an amazing nonprofit organization granting me the opportunity to use my education and acquired skill set to give back to the community.

To touch on a previous post, seize opportunities that allow you to give back to your community, paid or unpaid. Put energy out into the universe that you want to come back to you; it always will. It won’t always be when you expect it or when you want it, but it will come.

Work hard to spend your time making a difference.

Aside:

Many times I find that these posts get a bit bossy in a sense. “Do this,” I say, “do that,” I say. Mainly it’s because I want to remind myself of what I need to do. It’s positive affirmation, if you will. So don’t take it as bossy, unless you want to (clearly I know what’s best).

Since starting this job, and it’s only been one month, I’ve felt more fulfilled than I think I’ve ever felt. I’m so satisfied at the end of my day, that I’ve been able to really dive into and explore things that excite me. I’m running more and am training for an obstacle course in August, I’m reading again and I’m spending time with myself that is (for the most part) stress free.

Here’s possibly the best thing about my recent life developments: my job inspires me, it makes me want to do better things and be a better person, especially for my community.

Stay tuned to upcoming posts for a bit of a shift in this blog. Not a fundamental shift, but a trial shift. I began this blog as a way to express my thoughts and emotions, and to have something to reflect back upon as a measurement of growth. As I continue to grow, so to will this blog.

If you hate something, lets talk.

If you love something, lets talk.

Lets talk.

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In the last month, I’ve started doing some volunteer work for a local nonprofit. It’s mainly community outreach, resource development and organizing fundraisers. It keeps me busy and keeps my skills sharp, plus it’s for a great cause.

If you’ve not donated your time, one of the most valuable things any of us has, I highly suggest it. The return on investment is phenomenal and nearly unmatched by any other activity.

While I love what I’m doing, it is volunteer based. I’m thankful to still be receiving unemployment, which is allowing me to take my time searching for a position more in line with my career goals. However, it has been a struggle not having a job, and I’m getting to that point where I start to worry that I’m not going to find one in time and I’ve even gone as far as to say I’m scared.

My unemployment runs out in six weeks. Unless Congress gets their act together and passes a bill that will extend unemployment benefits, which doesn’t look likely given the current state of political affairs, it’s sink or swim in no time at all.

The frustration comes mainly from the fact that I’ve applied to, on average, five jobs a week for the past four and a half months. That’s 90 jobs if your math is rusty. I’ve reached that point where I’m beginning to feel as though I’ve run out of options. I’m questioning what I’ve done wrong. I mean, I have an extremely flexible, yet focused degree, I have extensive experience in higher education and customer service, and yet I’m either under-qualified or over-qualified.

 

Such was the case with my most recent rejection letter today.

My 25th birthday is on Tuesday. I’m trying so hard to hold it together and not have a small break down, but I’m looking around and wondering what I have to show for 25.

Then again, who says I have to have anything to show for 25 other than me? Who says I’m not successful other than me?

We can sometimes be our own most-intimidating worst enemy.

Deep down I know I’m successful. I know that I’m a survivor. I’ve been through far too many tests and passed with flying colors not to be. Do you know how many people thought I’d never finish my undergraduate simply because I was working so hard outside of class? My own father had my failure mapped out. This entire blog was started to document one of the hardest tests I’d ever taken. Impossible is nothing.

The reality that is so easy to forget is that it’s not always what you do, but who is there for you, that counts. Those people that stand behind you, always have your back, always remind you of the person you are no matter what, those are the people that determine your success.

As I began to write this post, I was sitting here a bit down in the dumps, almost unable to type; I was just so frustrated. Unexpectedly, and almost eerily, one of my closest, dearest friends text me. We don’t have censors with each other, so I naturally used this as a chance to express my frustration, dumping my stress and worry upon her.

In one single text, all my worries disappeared:

You saved me during my worst hour…I’ll always have your back!

It was a reminder of who I am, what I stand for and where my priorities have been and should be. It didn’t give me a job, it didn’t fix any of the “problems” surrounding my unemployment, but it did clear my outlook on life. Knowing that someone had my back, no matter what, was the boost I needed to hold my head back up.

There have always been hard times, there will always be struggles. There isn’t anything I can do about the uncertainty of life except to keep a positive attitude, march forward and remember that I have amazing people that love me unconditionally.

There is no better way to staple it together than with trust and love.

And to the angel in my life that sent that text, if you should read this, listen to this and remember:

You deal with the humps. Take the jumps. I feel like you’re an island of reality in an ocean of diarrhea. And I love you.

Hold your own, know your name, go your own way.

Note to self: read after every job rejection and again after you find the perfect position.

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When you’re not careful, life gets away from you.

The things that you enjoy doing, the things that make you happy, take a back seat to stress, worry and other very similar unproductive attitudes. You fall into bad habits and your mind travels to deep corners of obsession.

In this sense, I’m accident prone.

It’s not that I don’t know what makes me happy, I know exactly what gives me a sense of balance and accomplishment. That’s not to say I can efficiently tune out the world at all times to refocus, and, to be honest, with the way the last seven months of my life have gone, the world sometimes gets pretty damn loud.

This last month has been rough. Not the kind of rough where you sigh in relief that it has ended, the kind of rough where you’re scraping your knees to get to the end, wondering how it will ever end.

When I first got to Colorado, I was riding a massive life high. There had been so many changes and developments that I never once had to truly think about what was actually happening in my life. Everything felt so normal and natural that a large part of me naively thought the worst was over. I mean, I had already cried over leaving my partner, I penciled in time to not leave the bed and sulk over the things in life I no longer had control over, so surely the worst was behind me. Hell, I had even successfully moved more than half way across the continent, so as far as I was concerned it was all smooth sailing from here.

Then there was this one Wednesday when I was washing the dishes, windows open and feeling great after a much-needed yoga session and protein shake, that I broke.

If there were any better way to describe that day, it would be through audio. (Maybe I should consider podcasts)

There was no rhyme or reason, no obvious precursor for the events that were about to take place, just a little itch in the back of my throat right before the dam burst open. When I use that metaphor I intend for it represent the (very literally) hours of crying that ensued that Wednesday. Nothing could hold it back. At one point, in a state of desperation, I ran a bath with “stress-fix” salts, only to find myself sobbing after the first deep breath. It was a dam.

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I awoke in the middle of the night, just a couple of hours after resting my head on the pillow, in a frightened state.

After being awake for nearly 24 hours, 14 of which were spent in the car and nearly six in a blizzard, my partner in crime was losing her cool. It wasn’t her fault, I’d drugged her with a Vyvanse to keep her awake and lively on the journey.

If you’re unfamiliar with Vyvanse, it’s designed for those with ADHD to help them concentrate. If you don’t happen to have ADHD, you’re essentially wired and overly focused on the world around you. It comes in handy when you’re making long, monotonous journeys across states like Nebraska and Iowa.

The downside? Like any other drug, your body has to come down from the high. It also curbs your appetite, so when you come down you’re hungry, cranky, exhausted and want to sleep, but sometimes you just can’t.

Naturally we wanted to get on the road as soon as possible. It was only a few days before Christmas and we were sure traffic would be heavy. Gretchen was working until 5pm, so the original plan was for me to sleep during the day and drive the first shift while Gretchen slept until I got too tired. It would require driving overnight through Nebraska and Iowa on I-80.

If you’ve never driven across Nebraska and Iowa on I-80, I encourage you to do so, then read this over again.

Our families had warned us that they were calling for blizzard conditions in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. We had been watching the weather religiously, and although in retrospect all we had done was convince each other that we’d be fine, we didn’t see any reason not to make the 14 hour trip. Besides, our families both worry too much. We were driving the Subaru, we had packed blankets and jugs of water, we’d be fine, we were prepared.

In what seemed like an initial blessing on the trip, Gretchen was allowed to leave work early, putting us on the road at 2:30pm. The excitement of our first road trip together was enough adrenaline to get us through the first two hours. Then we were both over it.

Insert Vyvanse here.

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In the past couple of weeks, I’ve done quite a bit of hand-shaking.

I love meeting new people.

That’s honestly one of the best parts of moving to a new place, every person you see is someone to meet. And everyone has a different story, which makes meeting new people the chance to tell your story.

That leads me to what I’ve been thinking about endlessly: you have to have a story.

Maybe I’m full of myself and I’m crazy for thinking my life should be remembered, but should it not be? Everyone’s life is worth remembering. When I’m old and gray, I want to look back and feel filled to the brim with stories.

In the process of jotting down ideas on what essays I would draft, I started thinking about why I’ve made some of the decisions I’ve made in life. After some serious consideration, I  noticed that most times I made a decision based solely around the story it would produce. There are exceptions, of course, but is there a better reason to live life?

The idea of story telling is becoming a lost art, and I still consider myself an artist. It’s something people avoid at all costs. It’s as if no one cares what their great grandfather says because, well, what would he know?

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Over the years many of my peers, and even some of my professors and mentors, have suggested I write a book about my life.

Doesn’t that sound incredibly pretentious? The majority of people who sit down to write a book about their life are entirely too into themselves. (They have too much money.) So the book is really about how they had a decent childhood, lived a full high school and college-existence playing varsity sports and landed their dream career as someone who is allowed to be out of touch with reality. I’m not sure who buys these books, but I can tell you right now I’m not the only person who feels this way; I can’t be.

But then I thought, what if that’s the point? What if what everyone was trying to tell me was that I should write about my life because it’s actually quite fucked up?

You can’t honestly realize how entertaining your life is to someone else unless you’re a story teller. It just so happens that I love a good story, especially if I’m involved. (Make me the main character and I’ll pour your drink myself just to get your ear). A large part of it is my love of talking. The other, larger part, is making people laugh while I revisit my favorite memories. If I don’t revisit them, I’ll forget them, so the more I tell them, the better!

“Stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.”

I’m in a very good place in my life right now. It hasn’t been without a few difficult months, some unexpected twists and turns, but that’s life.

As I’ve been settling into Colorado, the main question is, “What brought you here?” There’s a short answer to this that sometimes sticks and sometimes doesn’t: “I was unhappy with my life back east, so I decided to move west and start over.” Every once in awhile, naturally, people want to ask, “What was making you so unhappy out east?”

Now at first, I loathed these people. Obviously if I was unhappy, there are details I wish to skip over by generalizing my life. The problem with going into details, was that one linked to another and it wasn’t a simple singular reason. It required me to go all the way back to July when I was hit by that drunk driver (for the second time in a year and half), then my job loss, then my relationship ending.

Think about those words coming out of your mouth as you’re talking to someone you’ve just met.

“Well, I was hit by a drunk driver doing 50 mph, then I was laid off from my job, and then my partner of three years and I split up, so I just figured now was as good a time as any to pack up the car I bought right before I lost my job and start over somewhere fresh.”

Wait for the look. It always comes. They think, “Is he fucking with me right now? That kind of shit only happens in Lifetime movies.”

It’s the truth. My life is a Lifetime movie without the estrogen. (There’s some, lets be honest, just not enough to actually get picked up.)

The most common response? “Oh.. Wow. Welcome to Colorado!” That’s why I like it here.

Sometimes I get an attempt at consolation, which I do not need and have not needed since my life started to become humorous. My consolation comes from finding the laughter in my life; it comes from thinking as each twisted event as a well-written story developing right in front of me. Why not? Do you know how broken I’d be if I didn’t laugh at the stuff in my life that I’ve had no control over?

There’s no possible way someone would buy a chronological publishing of my life. What if, I said to myself in my best Jessica Fletcher voice, I wrote short little essays about events in my life that I found the most obscurely entertaining?

Yes, I admit that this is bordering on Girls material, but the sexuality of it would be a subset. And plus that bitch isn’t original. All artists steal. (Just like I stole those last two sentences.)

I don’t plan on attempting to have my stories published. I’m no English major, and really the only thing that qualifies me is my inherent ability to lead a life of twisted, dark humor.

I do, however, plan on making a little collection for myself. It will likely be put on here, so if you’re following me you’ll get a good taste of my life as I see it. In the last week, as I’ve been glued to the couch awaiting the arrival of my root canal, popping Percocet, I’ve made a short list of starting stories.

It’s not like I don’t have the time.

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When something is right, it feels right.

You don’t have to question it.

It’s as if the universe is continually giving you blatant signs that it’s right.

In the last two weeks I’ve been happier than I can remember being in at least the last year and a half.

And I can’t exactly explain it, there’s just this feeling in my gut that I’m where I’m supposed to be right now. In every aspect, it’s the exact opposite feeling I had about being in Pittsburgh. At no time in while living there did I feel like it was where I was supposed to be. Of course I appreciate my time spent there and the life lessons that I learned, but I knew from day one that it wasn’t home.

So I apologize for not updating more, but I’ve been busy enjoying this new life I’m making for myself. I’m not sure I’ve stopped smiling since the first morning I walked out to the bluest, sunny sky I’ve seen. No joke, I started laughing as soon as I took a deep breath. Everything felt right.

People are friendly here, they talk to you and make you feel welcome. It’s an amazing thing to meet all of your neighbors without having to go out of your way to know who you’re living next to. Better yet, to have them offer to move your couch in. Better still is having people help you connect with those in a position to hire.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m beginning to feel like myself again. I’ve laughed, hard, everyday. I’ve danced even harder. Life just feels right. And I don’t want to seem like I’m gloating, but I suppose I am. Why not? Everyone deserves to find happiness. Am I fully pieced back together? Unlikely. But I can say that I most certainly feel it happening.

Last night I got on Facebook to see pictures of my ex with his new guy. Initially my heart sank, and for approximately 45 seconds after, I was a bit a sad. Then I remembered how much I love my life and the decision I made for myself, and it seemed insane to even feel a shred of sadness. So I smiled. I even began to chuckle a bit.

I’m not broken. I’m far from it. And I realize it’s going to take a lot more to actually break me.

Over the holiday my mother and I had a chat about the last couple of months and my decision to leave my ex and move to Fort Collins. It started with her asking about what restaurants were out here and how I liked them (she always wants to know the oddest things), and led to my realization that in one week of living here, I’ve fallen in love; I’m happy.

Now, if I’ve not mentioned it before, my mother is a recovering alcoholic and has been sober for two years. When she decided to get better for herself, I stepped in and helped her get her life back in order. There’s never been a day in my life that I doubted my mother’s pride for me; she is most definitely my biggest fan. What I doubted, naïvely, was her ability to see how unhappy I had been. So when she smiled at me and told me how good it made her feel to see me happy, yeah, I started to tear up a little.

I’ve opened myself to the universe. And as a wise friend of mine helped me realize, when you open yourself to the universe and the idea that everything will work just the way it’s supposed to, you will find peace and happiness and your true self.

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

So far, all of the signs have let me know I’m heading the right way.

 

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When I was a young boy, about the age of seven, my family and I were visiting my grandmother for her birthday. Typically the youngest in the group, I could be found outside playing with her beagle, Jake. On this particular day, when adult banter became too much for my tiny brain to tolerate, I went to run around with Jake and found him dead in his dog house.

In my memory, this was my first encounter with death.

The last thing I wanted to do was run inside and tell my grandmother that her dog had died on her birthday. It’s what I did though.

My grandmother was devastated. They had been inseparable for as I’d been on this earth, and since she lived alone, he gave her a sense of a purpose (something we all need). I’d not seen so many people in one room cry, and at such an intensity; Jake was a good dog that we all had fallen in love with. No one was taking it as hard as my grandmother.

My mother made arrangements to stay a few extra days in case my grandmother needed the company.

There’s never a good time for life to happen, it just happens. When it does, you can look the other way or you can handle the situation.

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Well guys, keeping up with this blog while trying to escape life has been more difficult than I anticipated!

I’m going to pull it together, I promise. I’ve been hiding in Chicago since Saturday enjoying the moment as best I can. Each day has been a bit better, but I can’t say my heart doesn’t still hurt.

Driving into the sunset was the highlight of my departure. Until that point, the weather was as gray and gloomy as my mood. There was something about seeing the sun force its way through the clouds that resonated with me. No matter how hard someone tries to steal your sunshine, it’s still there.

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Next stop: Mom’s house.

Once I’m there I’ll add some pictures that I’ve taken along the way documenting the journey. I’m trying to remember to catch everything.

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December 7, 2013, 0900 hours

After much anticipation, my journey officially begins tomorrow morning.

Yesterday my tires were delivered and installed, and since that was the missing puzzle piece, there’s no reason not to begin this next chapter. Today I finished a few small packing tasks and tied up various loose ends. The weather didn’t permit me to start packing the car, but after some shut-eye I’m sure I’ll be able to get it packed in the morning in less than an hour (note to self: watch how long it takes you).

Chicago is my first official stop.

As I suspected, all of the emotions from those very first days have resurfaced. Their intensity has yet to be matched, but I have felt notably sensitive today.

In my life, I feel I’ve sometimes been very naïve. Not to any sort of crippling point, but I find myself wanting and believing that the best possible outcome will take place. On top of that, my expectations for people and situations tend to remain unrealistic. How do you not try to see the best in everything and everyone?

This boy’s too young to be singing the blues.

The lesson I’m trying to learn out of this is that you can’t keep worrying about things that are out of your control. You also have to give people the benefit of the doubt, but it’s more important to recognize when someone is showing you their true colors. As cliché as it sounds, my feelings are hurt, and they’re mostly hurt because of someone else’s actions. But honestly, I’m beginning to believe that it’s not the action, it’s me caring about the action. It’s not my business anymore and the sooner I get that in my head, the better.

If I’m correct (and this is my first go-round, so no promises), that last sentence will finally sink in after tomorrow. Being here and watching my ex move on was difficult. It was like a sick form of self-cutting. As evident by last posts, I went back and forth on this. Overall, I’m going to suggest you never do this. It honestly just makes the situation more difficult. I don’t regret it, but if I had to do it over I would likely not. Unless you’re looking for what a friend of mine referred to as, “an unnecessary test of character.” It does make for a better story though (it’s really all about the story).

Well, I suppose it’s time to get going.

Oh, I’ve finally decided my future lies beyond the yellow brick road

Boy, with these new tires the ride down my yellow brick road should be relatively smooth.

 

 

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