This has been one hell of a year.
It feels like a lifetime ago that I was having one of the best semesters of my college career (the semester in London doesn't count. That was the best five months of my life, college or no college), when I had two days off a week just to work on the manuscript that would become The Long Road Home, when I was taking great classes with my favorite professors, when I was still dancing, when I spent many an evening up far too late with my wonderful roommates.
I can't quite fathom that it was nine months ago that I stood in that stupid, ill-fitting black gown and switched over my tassel to the other side of my hat. Nine months ago that I stopped being a student and started being an adult.
Things have been... interesting since then. Don't get me wrong. Everything is, objectively, great. I live with my best friend, who is the coolest person I know. We have a fantastic apartment and two incredibly adorable cats (who persist in climbing the Christmas tree). I have a perfectly respectable job, and I'm paying my rent and my student loans and my internet bill. And I am grateful. I am so, so grateful for everything and everyone that is allowing me to take this stab at being an independent, adult-type person.
But being an adult is hard.
I was talking to a writer friend of mine who is also a recent postgrad. She was a psychology major, and she was explaining the concept of an "existential vacuum" to me. It's what happens when there's a sudden absence of something. We were talking about it in the context of "I've just finished this novel what am I supposed to do with my life now?" and also "post show depression," something anyone involved in theatre will know well.
Thinking about it later, though, it explains a lot about how I've been feeling about being a postgrad. I haven't wanted to talk about it much, since I would like to be professional on this blog and being constantly mopey isn't terribly professional.
And I've felt awfully mopey since graduating. I've felt so lost, so mired in worry that I'll never be able to do the one thing I think I'm actually any good at - writing novels. So afraid that I'll just spend the rest of my life saying "may I help you?" to people who often don't care that I'm standing there. So terrified that I'll actually never amount to anything at all, that no one will ever want to listen to the stories I have to tell. If all I have to offer the world are words that no one will hear...
I tend to be pretty good at just shuffling on through. I've done it for classes I've hated, shows that have been stressing me out, the hellish sublet Lisa and I lived in this summer. This too shall pass, I think, and I just buckle down and deal with it till it does. I'm worried I'm *too* good at that. What if it doesn't? What if I just allow myself to get complacent because I think "this too shall pass" and wind up stuck in a job I don't really want in a place I don't really want to be?
I'm a worrier, and that's never been more evident than it is now. I worry about myself, about my career, about my writing, about Lisa, about everything, in a constant loop.
Next year, things are going to change.
Next year, I am going closer to the mountain. I am taking another step towards being where I want to be, and who I want to be. Lisa and I are moving to New York City when our lease here in Ithaca ends. I'll miss my Ithacan friends, of course, and this town has done many amazing things for me, but I need to leave. I need to stop stalling in the place where I graduated from college. I need to get out there and start making the life I really want to have. I need to be in a city again, where there are convenient corner stores and an actual form of public transportation. I need to be in New York, where nothing ever stops. Because I feel like I've stopped. I'm waiting. And I don't want to wait anymore.
I want to run full-tilt at the kind of life I really want, sprinting towards it until I smash into it, until I catch it and tangle myself up in it.
And yes, I know it's going to be hard. Lots of well-meaning people have told me, in the same way that everyone said "Oh, college in Ithaca? It's cold up there you know," that living in New York is expensive. I know. I know everything won't be perfect when we move. I know I'll still worry about money and paying the rent all the time. I know there will still be plenty of days when I feel like a waste of space. But to be honest, I don't really care. I want this, and I'm going to go after it with everything I've got.
Next year, I'm going to move to the place I want to be in. Next year, Lisa and I will have more city exploring to do. Next year, I'm going to find a job that's more engaging than simply selling stamps. I'm going to call myself a New Yorker, after years of growing up on the periphery.
And next year, I'm going to make a hell of a lot of really good art.
Here's to 2014. May it be kind to all of us.