One of the worst aspects of being in my early and mid-twenties was the feeling of waiting.
I felt restless, like I was going to move.
It makes sense because starting at age 18, I moved a lot. Every four years in college, then to my aunt and uncle’s house for four months while I had an internship that turned into a job, and then I got an apartment. But I didn’t like it, and fifteen months later I moved to another town that I loved. My job was still not what I was looking for, so two and a half years later, I got a new job and moved away to another new town. And it was kind of awful for a while, so I thought I’d be moving again. Two years later, I’m still here.
If you’re moving often, it becomes a habit. Of course you’re going to feel like you’re waiting.
And our twenties are hard. We’re figuring things out now that we have real agency in our lives. Graduating from college meant I finally had full control over my life, but after 22 years of some level of parental supervision (my parents paid for a significant amount of my college education, so they were definitely involved), it’s hard to go “Welp, I’ve got this now!” No. It takes time (at least for me) to develop a sense of agency and wean off that dependency. I don’t have to simply react anymore; I can and have to act more.
I’m now 28. I’ve been out of college for more than six years. I have proven I can reliably be an adult.
That sense of waiting has slowly disappeared as I’ve realized I can do the shit I want to do. I may not be able to do it all, and certainly not this instant, but it’s possible with a blend of discipline, planning, dreaming and pragmatism.
For example, I’ve always wanted to travel. That’s hard to do on a newbie reporter’s salary, let me tell you. Even so, I made room for it. In 2012, I set a yearly goal to visit two new places each year. They didn’t have to be exotic, they just had to be new to me. I started with a camping trip with a friend to Pictured Rocks in the U.P. and a day trip to a Michigan town I’ve never been to. That didn’t cost much.
Fast forward to this year: I went to Arizona to see Sedona, Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, and then took a trip to Washington D.C.
It took only four years. In that time, I’ve traveled through most of the U.P., been to three new states and a new town in Canada. And I’ve done the majority of this traveling alone. We can start small and let things grow. We don’t have to quit our jobs and travel the world.We don’t have to wait until we’re married. We don’t have to wait until we’re in our 50s or retired.
In two or three years, I want to go to New Zealand. That used to seem like a pipe dream (I mean, Middle earth!), but now I see it as something I can do. I can save money, I can plan and I can go if I want to. Which is awesome!
This translates to all areas of my life. The experience I’ve gained in the past several years has made me realize I can do things now. In 2012, I bought a road bike and started cycling because I wanted to become a triathlete someday. In June, I started learning how to swim so I could finally stop saying, “I want to compete in triathlons someday” and go compete in fucking triathlons (coming: spring 2017).
If you want to do something, all you have to do is do it. It’s not easy, but that simple.