Ten years…Where am I now?

When May of this year came and went, it deeply resonated with me. Ten years ago I graduated college. Ten years ago I was a lost soul, and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. I’m pretty sure this is a common phenomenon: the plight of the recent college grad. Up until this point, your life has been pretty scripted: get good grades and go to a good college. In college, get good grades and you’ll get a good job. The problem for me (and probably many others) is that I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, or rather, I knew what interested me, but the idea was a bit too abstract. I knew I wanted to do something in the environmental/conservation field, and frankly that idea changed weekly. At one point I wanted to be Jane Goodall. During another point, I wanted to work in environmental law. I can (un)successfully say that I ended up doing neither; however, I did stay true to my interests and have been working in biodiversity conservation (=bonafide bunny hugger).

These past ten years I have been going with the flow – there is no true goal or definitive direction. It has more-or-less been an amorphous journey of exploring new opportunities and then seeing what happens.  It’s been a life experiment.

As I look towards my future and attempt to create a new path for myself, I can’t help but look back on what I’ve done because I don’t think I could have planned, thought of, or dreamt of what I have done. It’s not that its all that crazy, or life-altering, but it is certainly not what I had planned. Then again, I didn’t have anything planned, so perhaps that’s why this reflection has fascinated me. Perhaps if Robin from 2004 really did sit down and make goals, maybe I would have accomplished more. Who really knows… Maybe, I’m not meant to be a planner, but I’m meant to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal.  That approach seems to have worked so far…

Regardless, upon making my list, I had a very self-satisfying moment, a rare instant where I was actually proud of myself. It was a time where I’m not comparing myself to anyone else, which subsequently makes me feel like I’m worthless. I’m a helpless perfectionist, so nothing I do is ever really praise worthy – I can always do better. But, this list made me smile – a lot. Heck, I even printed it out and hung it over my desk in an effort to keep me inspired to do more.

Now, I’m trying to piece together a vision of my next ten years because they obviously have to kick this past ten-year’s ass.  Bring it on 2024!

How I spent my life in 10 years:  2004-2014

2013: a personal retrospective

pig_roadThe end of one year is always the time that I take a moment to reflect on me, who I’ve become, and of course, what is it that I want to be.  I know that I’m not the only person who does this.   I’m also pretty sure that’s why people set New Year’s Resolutions – to make those changes about themselves that they didn’t like in the previous year.  Of course, the majority of us then quickly forget those resolutions before the month of January is over.   On a side note, that is why February is the BEST month to go to the gym.  Everyone that set a goal to either go to the gym more, or get in shape, has already burned out by February.  True story.

I digress….

For me, 2013 was about setting realistic goals for myself and trying to change behaviors that I know are more or less changeable.  2012 was a hard year for me, and when I say that it’s because I’m a Type-A perfectionist who sets really high standards for myself.   In the grand scheme of it, 2012 was totally fine and I had no real reason to complain.  But let’s face the facts; it is way more gratifying to complain about things, especially small issues, then just sucking it up and NOT complaining.  It’s just human nature.   For that reason, I mentally went into 2013 with a different mindset – I wanted to set marginally high standards with the caveat that some events are totally beyond our control, and to a certain extent we need to learn how to ‘go with the flow’ and ‘not sweat the small stuff.’  As a kid, my mom always told me that things happen for a reason.  Now, in my 30’s, it was time to actually believe it and embrace it.  Alternately, one could look at my resolution at aiming to be mediocre, at best.  I prefer the former…

My fearless sidekick, Binnie, also contemplates her life in 2013

My fearless sidekick, Binnie, also contemplates her life in 2013

If I had to grade myself over the course of the past year, I would give myself a B/B-.  I’m a perfectionist, remember?!  I had a solid performance in determining what makes me exceptionally happy, and to make sure those things happen daily.   Apparently, I’m not fun to be around when I’m cranky.   As nerdy as it sounds, I made a list of the things that make me happy.  Such things include spending time outside, reading a good book, playing with the dog, cooking with my spousal equivalent and skating (a huge passion of mine since childhood).  I made a point to make sure that I accomplished at least one of those each day.  Cheesy I know, but whatever, my wacky plan worked and I’m totally happy, and everyone around me is happy because I’m not cranky.  Success!

Another one of my 2013 resolutions was to figure out my career goals and make serious strides to achieve them.   I have been less successful with achieving this one. As a side note, I’ve been in what I call the “early-mid year career slump.”  I’ve been mentally beating myself up trying to figure out what it is that I want to do with my life.   Subsequently, I have been asking myself what did I THINK I would be doing at this stage in my life.  Clearly, I never quite thought ahead as to what I BELIEVED I would be or should be doing.  Perhaps, that’s my first mistake.  Lesson learned – think ahead, set goals = career slump avoided.

I have a job, and some would say it’s a good job, but I’ve been feeling less than fulfilled.  I’ve always had the poetic notion that a job shouldn’t be a job; it should be something that you are passionate about doing.  I thought my first step would be to establish what my goals are and what makes me happy.  I thought that doing this would help me see my path a lot clearer.  Turns out that was a tall order that couldn’t be accomplished this year.  So, this particular resolution will be rolled over into 2014 with hopes of more success.

Perhaps, figuring out my career goals was not meant to be this year.  Maybe there is some bigger lesson or opportunity that is meant to happen in 2014.  And, isn’t accepting that fact what I wanted to accomplish this year, after all?

Good ideas stem from ambien

Awesomely old school journal, and home for random stickers

Awesomely old school journal, and home for random stickers

I’m pretty sure I made the decision to have a blog while I was under the influence of ambien last night.  I distinctly remember thinking that this was definitely a good idea and that I have a lot of thoughts, albeit random, that should be put out in some sort of public forum.  That surely, I’ve outgrown my old school composition notebook where I’ve been keeping my innermost thoughts to myself.  It should be noted that some of these innermost thoughts include:

  • Why are pop tarts so freggin’ good?
  • Who the hell was my 6th grade teacher?
  • How many babies have been conceived by listening to Sade?

Groundbreaking stuff, I tell you.

Sometimes, but not often, I ponder the bigger issues.  Because let’s face it, I’m in my early 30’s, so I’m facing the idea of finally growing up and figuring out what I want to do with the rest of life to make sure that its fulfilled with purpose, compassion and enthusiasm.