I feel strange in this city today. Out of sorts and out of place. It’s a Tuesday, and what I believe will be, the last Tuesday of my self-proclaimed, “sabbatical.” One of the last few days of freedom before re-entering the workforce and re-joining working-class America. It is also five short days before my birthday. The. Big. Three. Zero.
Thirty is the new forty. It’s the age that scares the pants off my peers, the age by which I assumed, at a much younger, more naïve age, that I would have amounted to something; or, in the least, have something to show by some generally accepted measure of success (a house, a spouse, a career, and so on and so forth). I do not have these things.
Instead, I have these: a car, a dog, a girlfriend, a rental apartment and a significant amount of debt. I do not have a job, though I have been offered one. And if I play my cards right at 3:15 today, I’ll have two to choose from, which, being a fresh transplant to a very new place, feels like a lucky strike.
Still, even in imagining myself a few months out in either one of these prospective positions, I am not where, years ago, I imagined I would be. I am not a clinical psychologist, a few years out of graduate school, saving minds and making bank. I am not married with a child or a bun in the oven. I am, in fact, nearly 30 and none of these things. I’m a masters-level, home practitioner of yoga, who is about to accept one of two jobs for less than/equal to $13 an hour. (To bring perspective, I made just under $12/hour at my last job pre-grad school. For most of the last 3 years, I made close to $18.) These are all numbers of course. They are meaningless symbols against which I measure my accomplishments and myself. Or, in the least, they are the catalyst by which I ask myself what the hell is I’ve been doing for the last ten years.
Money is irrelevant to happiness. I do know this, even as I fight against this notion and suffocate under the blanket of The American Dream. I farmed for six months and didn’t miss the take-away. We don’t need much, really. Food, shelter, love, activity. Some means by which to feel engaged, inspired, educated. We all adjust our spending to our income. We all yearn for more until we have it and ultimately find that we’re still not satisfied. This is not the end that I move toward. This is never, and has never been, my intention.
And. Still. Even without imagined second job offer I stand on what I feel is a great precipice between what my heart craves and what my practical self desires. The latter lures me in with carefree, corporate work, a nametag with a smile and the promise to never be challenged. The former is this: my first opportunity to finally get paid to do what I love. To fight against a corrupt system, to reach out, to share opportunity, and to potentially change lives.
This prospect scares me. It is not what I imagined and only what I’ve hoped for, with a steady gaze and an unwavering patience. It assures growth and hard work and utter chaos. It is the kind of work that beckons my soul and assures nothing but insanity and hard-earned intrinsic reward.
And in this awkward ramble saturated with vagueness, I ask you to wish me luck. It’s time for a second interview.