I have no things

I want to tell you a story, several actually…maybe more like anecdotes.  That is what I do, btw, collect stories, my own, other people’s.  If there are qualities that are uniquely me, I believe it would be my ability to connect with people, communicate, and express ideas…this has translated to several areas of my life.  The first was dancing and choreography.  Then it was working with horses.  I have also always been centered around relationships, people, feelings, and cause and effect—why people do what they do.  i have always been a counselor to the people and family around me.  I understand things deeply and am never satisfied staying at the surface.  Nothing feels complete until I am an absolute expert both on it and it’s context.  Anyways, why the hell is this called “I have no things”?  A funny thing happened when a couple of my friends and I were 33.  Life fell apart a little bit.  Crazy circusstances kept causing setbacks, one after another, after another.  Housing, roomates, jobs, relationships, careers, everything kept falling through.  One of the things that kept me from losing it to stress was that so many capable people in my life were going through similar things.  I think this is known as the quarter life crisis.

The phrase “I have no things” was coined by one of my dearest and oldest friends after she had worked in Key West for a year, opened two hotels as manager (pretty impressive for a 32. year old), and moved 3 times in the space of 4 months.  After getting setback with moving and money, we were talking one night about how differently we thought things would be at 33.  That we would be on track, have an apartment or home, have a pet, own furniture.  We were shocked at what our lives looked like and how much of a mess we felt.  She exclaimed, “I’m 33 and I have no things!” in frustration and disgust.  She was referring to the fact that in all of her moving about, she did not own furniture, a bedroom set, and her clothes were in plastic drawers from Walmart and a foot locker.  So were mine.  We were amazed.  I swear the only way we are getting through it is reminding ourselves that this two shall pass, we are smart, we work hard, we can learn anything we need to know, we can learn to make better decisions, better impressions, better judgements of the people and situations we sign up for; we can clarify what is important to us and how we need to make a difference in the short time we have on this planet.

I think the quarter life crisis is a time that people go through where you re-evaluate everything…what you have done, what are you doing, what you have passed on, what your future holds.  It’s characterized by a sense terror and poignant self doubt.  I think this happens for several reasons.  Some of us are lucky enough to spend our 20s pursuing different interests with the idea that there is time: time to settle down, time to make money, time to get more serious.  And then all of a sudden you are 33.  Some of your friends are married with children.  Some of your ventures and connections were supposed to turn into solid careers and they didn’t.  Maybe you lose a close relative or notice that your parents are going grey and are not anewere close to being able to take care of them.  Maybe they even look at you with a little worry and you feel them wondering if you are ever going to get serious.  It’s a time when you start to feel like time is running out to turn yourself into someone that anyone can take seriously, someone that an amazing individual could see themselves marrying and building a future with, or you look at the person you married in your 20s and think “holy shit, this is it. “  Every decision, and how you spend your time seems to take on a more weighted, heavier quality.  There is also the idea that you want to make a difference in some of the shit of the world, but your career just doesn’t seem to do that and you spend a lot of time working.

For me, I was broke, crashing with a friend, owned a horse, I had already had 2 or 3 careers that I was completely passionate for, but did not know where to go, what to continue pursuing, and did not want to waste any more time.  Starting out again, seemed intimidating.  Ideally, I wanted a family in the next 5 to 10 years, and how could I stay true to myself, while also building a savings and solid future that I could feel okay about bringing a family into?  I became discouraged and disheartened.  I fell into a depression that lasted over a year and got worse before it got better.  I didn’t want to get out of bed because facing the day was facing my failure as a human being to decide, act on, and create a future for myself.  I saw myself making decisions from a numb and disconnected place and was disappointed in myself.  I had so many ideas that I couldn’t pick one, and so I just sat paralyzed and took a waitressing job, and thought of all the things I had started in my 20s that just didn’t seem solid enough to continue.  I lived across the country from my family who begged me to come home.  I desperately wanted to make a difference in the world but did not know how.  I was a creative, a dancer, a writer, I had studied some nutrition and holistic healing, worked extensively with horses on ranches and had gotten into the local food system/regenerative agriculture movement.  The last two jobs I had taken had not worked out, and I could not figure out where I fit or how a Connecticut dancer, Colorado horseback riding instructor without resources, land, or horses could be successful, contribute to a cause, and build a savings account.  Maybe I would just say fuck it all and learn how to make cheese or study nutrition—surely I could do something with that…but i still had no money, and in order to own a business, I would need capitol, and secretly still loved dancing and writing the most.  Around and around and around my mind went. I would spiral into anxiety and overwhelm daily.  Waitressing was actually a perfect outlet.  Too busy to think, surrounded by superficial cheer, good food, cocktails, and working in a place that was fun and high energy.  Okay, so still not making major life decisions, but at least distracted and employed.  This is an exploration in some of the topics that came up for me and friends going through their quarter life freak out.

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