Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The New Year

Starting a blog can be tough. Especially these fancy ones that make you name it before you've even started, like you're gonna know what the theme is already! The biggest problem with that? You start a theme and then like a few months later realize you're just not cut out for that theme at all and you want to go back to the simple days where you just had a blog and it was a hodgepodge of everything in your life, take it or leave it.

Hi, my name is Sara and this is definitely not my first blog.

I tried out a few in high school, when it was the trendy thing to do and MySpace was still awesome. I eventually settled on Xanga, and it was my emo guilty pleasure for a couple years, even well into my first year (or two?) of college. And then I realized I had outgrown the whole emo thing. I just wasn't emo anymore. Maybe there really is just something in the water in high school that makes teenage girls angsty? And so above all, I had outgrown my Xanga. It held too many memories -- some of which depressed me to revisit, and some of which were embarrassing to leave public to be discovered by some future friend or lover -- and I really just needed to clean up shop and move on.

I eventually made a new one, and pretty much only posted on it when I was suffering some debilitating and confusing internal emotional struggle, the kinds of blog posts you don't really want in the cracks of the internet for people to stumble upon, so that was taken down pretty quickly.

Then I got a new camera, a DSLR. And I was determined to take lots of pictures, you know, be a hobby artist, and dedicate myself to my photoblog. And I did, kind of, for a little while. But it was my last semester of college, I had a lot going on! My last classes were full of coding-intensive projects; I was frantically applying and interviewing for jobs; I was determined to take every opportunity to celebrate life with my friends our last semester together (also the first full semester I was finally 21); and it was the last crippling semester of the epic relationship that refused to die years after it should have (and it's been over a full year since I finally put it out of its misery, so go me!) . In short, I had my plate full. And then I graduated, started a new more awesome relationship, tried even harder to enjoy my last brilliant and free summer before the responsibility of adulthood would destroy my hopes and dreams, and so photoblogging really was the last thing on my mind. Then adulthood happened, and I moved away from all my friends (and the awesome boyfriend), closer to my part-disfunctional/part-failing-health-that-was-depressing-to-be-around, and I slipped back into the Funk.

That funk was the fodder of my high school blogging days, that which led to connections with far away strangers and internet-land friendships. But I was isolating myself. I wanted to be invisible. I didn't want anyone to know what I was feeling, not even the randoms on the internet. And I think that phobia of publishing my "shameful" (dating Asians means everything short of a Nobel Prize is shameful) secrets even to a select niche was a side-effect of that epic and largely unhealthy relationship (in hindsight, aren't they all? no? I guess I'm just broken, then), because everything was meant to be kept behind closed doors, even kept from friends, though really that was probably just his excuse to be secretive and I was an easy target for infidelity /tangent. So I started food blogging on that photo blog for a while, because, hey, pictures of food are still photos, right?? And you know what, I'm gonna keep doing that when I motivate myself to make new and tasty things (it's on my List!) and take pictures of those noms and document the recipe in a readable fashion (because I tend to take a recipe and mangle it and make it my own when I cook), but that's not the point.

The point is, I'm starting....fresh. Sometimes you gotta do that. Starting fresh is therapeutic. Like when you finally wash your sheets, make your bed, and climb in (after a long relaxing shower, legs newly shaven) with deep inhale of the comforting scents of Tide and Bounty and warm dryer love. And I really need some (self) therapy. This funk has gone on too long, and I need to make a lot of changes. I've made a List. And one thing I've decided is that a new blog has to go with it, to document my progress in this confusing phase of life -- stuff I do, stuff I ponder, my highs and lows, the memories of how I got to where I am now and epiphanies for where I want to go next and how.

I've grown up, haven't I? I went through elementary school, middle school, high school, and four years of college, so I should be an adult now, right? Well it's been a full year since I graduated from college and I don't feel any more adult than I did then. I mean, except for paying my own rent and insurance and working a full-time job, I guess. I don't want that to define me, though. It was the times that happened outside of class that really defined college, wasn't it? I'm a year out of college and still unclear on how to frame my life. Perhaps this last year was the Confusing Year -- and maybe every year here on out will be confusing, sure -- but this next year will be the New Year. This next year I want to do something about my life, make it my own now that I'm a so-called adult.

And I don't mean "365 days in 52 weeks in 12 months" kind of year. I mean like year in the "school year" sense. Except I finished the nicely packaged and labeled years of school. That realization, when I moved into my next apartment to start my first real world job (translation: focused on what I majored in), was a scary one. My boyfriend was still in school so I tried to track time in semesters like he would be, but nothing would change for me in those time intervals. It's been over a full year since I graduated from college, 9 months since I moved away from school and started my Big Girl job, but there haven't been any semester-like transitions. The future stretches on and on with no known changes or checkpoints.

Well, I want to make one. I want to break off the mood I've been in -- borderline depression, really, because I'm not sure what else to call it -- and start my adult life again. Plenty will stay the same, of course, but there are a lot of changes I want to make, ones which will make my life better explicitly, and others which will force me to make it better for myself.

I've had a hard time fitting myself into the definition of "adult" that formed in my head as I grew up. I don't think I was ready. And I think maybe that the first few years after college, the early 20's, is an age group of its own that the English language hasn't categorized yet. The struggle is in reconciling what I think I'm supposed to be, with what I know I should be, with what I feel like I want to be. I've never been good at fitting into pigeon holes -- whether it be my lack of sharp categorization into predefined roles and groups, or my refusal to be so easily categorized -- and being released, more or less independently, into the free-form world is proving difficult. The rules were always written out for me, and now I only have expectations -- silent and spoken, past and present -- to guide me. And my gut feeling. And those clash! It's not like they write a book entitled, "how to discover your grown-up self" or I wouldn't see the symptoms in others struggling with this transition from college to...not-college. College was difficult, too, striking that balance of new-found independence with "I still rely on my parents to pay my rent and buy me food, and thus I still answer to them when I screw up, but only when I answer my phone or visit them". Now, I'm on my own. All my expenses are my own. All my decisions are ultimately up to me. And that is both so liberating and so frightening all at once. And so overwhelming -- the gamut of life choices and outcomes, many still undiscovered, each with subtext that the rest of the world could judge me by.

After all that (and I could go on for days about this adulthood conundrum), the conclusion is I have to create my own Sara-shaped mold, define my own adulthood anatomy.

Parents shape and mold us in our early years, and throughout school we have structures and rules and calendars and externally defined goals that guide us from one spoke of the ladder to the next. I reached the top of my given ladder 1 year ago and kind of sat there waiting for my next instructions. But they never came. Because they always told you what to expect at kindergarten, elementary school, high school, college, and that *some-day* with the house and family, but conveniently left out that in-between -- that period between living with your birth family, and living with your married family. And so I went to work, and made my dinner, and did the dishes, and showered, and did my laundry, and slept at night, and fed my cats, and called my mom, and did the every day routine that filled my time and kept me out of trouble while I waited and waited for the next thing...that never came. And I wasn't happy with it. And so I've been defining things for myself, to try this after-college thing once again with a more active approach, delineating my expectations based on my wants and my needs, because my life on my terms is just beginning and I have to start from some where.

There are a lot of hard decisions and scary possibilities -- but exciting ones, too -- and so I don't know what the end product will be. Or rather, since there's never really an end, just a transition to a new beginning, I don't know when that transition will be, or where, or what the Sara mold will look like by then. I just know that I've let almost a year go by without paying attention to what I was really doing with my life. I'm changing that, now. This year, is mine.


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