I’ve spent the roughly the past 15months trying to gather myself, take responsibility for where I was, and take action for where I wanted to go. In essence, taking control of my life. Very poetic in theory, at times very difficult in practice.
There are certain things that are/were very clear. Go back to school, finish the degree, pay down debt. Other things were slightly more complex. To leave a good job that could be better post degree or to start anew, whether it be symbolic or genuine to make sure that school was the number one priority, and that I was working to live, and not living to work. Is it okay to embark on a romantic relationship when my main focus must be school?
Each day brings with it more questions, some have answers, some have more questions. The one thing I’ve taken so far is that I do want to be a “big boy”, that is to mean I want to be taken seriously. What I’ve noticed in my brief stay on earth (lets be real, 25 years ain’t worth much in the grand scheme of things) is that the people taken seriously are the people that get things done. Not necessarily big, earth shattering, accomplishments, but they consistently do what they need to do, what they say they’re going to do, what they feel they should do.
For me this finally hit home a few days ago when I had a visitor. I looked around my room before they arrived and it hit me. My room looked like that of a 15 year old boy. Laundry all over the place, trash littered throughout, loose change placed on any desk, dresser, or available carpet. Bathroom was disgusting, twin bed was a mess. It was just my room, but it was in certain ways a microcosm of my life. Was everything I needed there somewhere? Absolutely. Was there any genuine danger? No. But I couldn’t imagine what the reaction was going to be when my visitor arrived, genuine embarrassment set in.
She arrived, and laughed, remarking , “well you live with your parents, may as well act like it I guess”. She didn’t hold it against me, it obviously didn’t phase her very much. But it was the tipping point for me.
I’d spent 2 weeks traveling Europe. I’d bought my own car. Been paying for my own health insurance. Whittling away at my debt. Balancing work with school. I was really close. Having a “clean room” wasn’t going to finish the process, but it was the next step. If I can’t keep the confines of a 15 by 12 ft room in order, then how can I expect myself to keep my ever evolving life in order? There are so many things in life that are out of my control, that I need to be able to take responsibility of the things that I can, especially the simple ones.
So for me, this starts with my room. I spent an entire day going through everything, throwing out trash, sorting through clothes and papers, organizing, folding, etc. Then I bought furniture. A queen bed bed, pillowtop actually, because my twin bed reminded me of the chaos of my freshman year in college. A new dresser, larger, so that I had no excuse not to fit my relatively small collection of casual clothing. And hangers, lots of hangers, because as a “Big Boy”, it was more important to have wrinkle free button downs and slacks, than it was to have a clean pair of Jordan’s.
It’s really a symbolic act. One of many that I’ve performed over the recent past. But it’s more the fact that I got it done. Which has been my biggest goal since deciding to go back to school. To take control of what I can, accept the mistakes that I undoubtedly will make and take steps to correct them, and get done what I say I’m going to do.
The symbolic acts often precede the concrete accomplishments. Whether that’s because of the inspiration, or hope, they provide I don’t know. But at least for me it gives me something to point to, internally, and say “I finished what I started”