Have you been through your quarter-life crisis yet? Or one/third-life crisis? Or any type of generic existential where-is-my-adult-life-going crisis? And maybe found yourself longing for the “care-free” days of high school again?
I ask these questions because, of course, I have. In an earlier post, I alluded to having gotten to live out my own personal dream, only to realize I wanted something else. While I know how lucky I am, it is disconcerting to see your aspirations are different in reality than imagined way up there in the clouds.
If you happen to be a goal-oriented, organizational type like myself, re-constructing your dreams means a lot of analysis and self-examination. Especially when you are rapidly approaching 30 and have friends that have already been promoted 2 or 3 times. I consistently fight off the sensation of feeling like the little girl playing dress up.
Attempting to figure out the answers to important questions like career choice is a gargantuan task. Then you have to add on practical questions like “Will my job allow me to pay all my bills and have (at least a little) fun?” “Do I enjoy it somewhat?” “Does it offer opportunity for growth?” It makes me tired just seeing the words materialize on the computer screen…
As I prepared this summer for my new adventure very far removed from the Paris of my former dreams, I repeatedly found myself wistfully thinking back to the days of high school: goofing off in class, watching the clock during study hall and after school 7-11 slurpee trips. At first reminisce, not a bad gig.
I love being around high schoolers, but once I started to notice their stress, poof! My nostalgia flew away. As I help another teacher coordinate one of the student publications, I can’t help but be fascinated observing the kids in their decision making process. How many ideas do they put up for vote? (Lots.) How many days does it take them to come up with their ideas? (Several.) How upset are they if their idea doesn’t get voted in? (Depends.)
While observing the angst some of the kids were experiencing throughout the decision making process, at first I had a hard time understanding. Then I reflected on a huge play the junior girls at my high school put on every year. And the tears we shed over every detail…what color will our shirts be for such and such scene? Who will be front and center for such and such dance? Which girl will be in charge of guarding the programs until such and such time? It all seemed so important. And it was. Of course, what was more important than the details was bonding as a class and learning to work together. Which is of course the goal for our publications group as well.
As adults, we deal with stress every day. Not only are we supposed to succeed in our jobs, but optimally we have fulfilling social lives, we volunteer, we work out, we spend time with family. And then come home and make dinner at the end of the day. Well, working at a boarding school I don’t have to worry about that. Only about eating cafeteria food at the age of 27.
Sure. The things adults stress about are weightier, like finances and insurance. But the difference between us adults and those high schoolers is (hopefully) we adults have learned how to cope with stress. So luckily enough, I choose to remain an adult. Good choice, considering it is the only one. Plus, it’s way more fun to do what I want during study hall.