Monday, December 19, 2016

I turned 23 yesterday- and as with most birthdays, the only noticeably different aspect of the day was being able to eat all the cake I wanted with #noragrets and get away with bossily informing my friends that they must laugh at my jokes and let me ride shotgun in honor of the special occasion. And aside from mourning the loss of no longer being able to relate to Taylor Swift’s hit song- 22 was a pretty good year for me.

I traveled to 2 continents and visited 9 countries- 7 of which I backpacked through all by myself (*puffs up chest with an unwarranted sense of girl power*). I passed all four sections of the CPA. I got an article that I wrote published. I shot more weddings than I expected. I completed my master’s degree in Accounting (feel free to refer to me as master parsons from now on). I got the camera I had been dreaming of for years. I made the big move to Portland and finally got out of the southeast. I landed a seasonal position at my fave shop (okay yes I know this sounds incredibly stupid but I have always wanted to work there and the employee discount is the And this may not seem like a particularly impressive list, but for me in those moments, it was.

In a lot of ways, I crossed a lot of things off of my bucket list and did a lot of things that I did not think that I could do. And if you had told me last December that this was what my 22nd year was going to entail, I would have jumped up and down with excitement and cried tears of joy. But these things have happened, and my 22nd year has come and gone and I don’t feel like jumping up and down and if I’m crying, it’s not tears of joy.

And while I have my moments of pride and unreasonable amounts of self confidence, on an everyday basis I don’t feel any braver, any smarter, any more accomplished. I sit down to write things and quickly stop, feeling defeated before I even begin. I am more critical of my photography than ever before. I walk into my seasonal job, convinced that they’re going to fire me because I am not near as fashionable as the rest of them. And as excited as I am to be in a new city, I still feel like a stranger there in a lot of ways.

And there’s a certain aspect of this that is due to comparison- and like all of our grandmothers have always told us- comparison truly is the thief of joy. Because no matter how many accolades I accumulate or things I accomplish, there will always be someone doing something more and the grass will always seem a bit greener on the other side. We all compare ourselves to others, and while this tendency can be managed, I’m not sure that it ever goes away entirely.

But I think there’s something a little more than comparison behind the things that I have been feeling. And in talking to my friends, I’ve gathered that maybe this is a common theme among the twenties crowd. We all have arrived at adulthood and some of us are less than impressed at what we’ve found. For myself, I expected to find a little more of a sense of importance. I want to make a difference and I want the things I do to matter. And you can study a lot of things in school- but they can’t really teach how to make a difference in the world or how to matter in a classroom. And when your daily routine consists of editing pictures so that people will feel pretty and arranging clothes in size order and ringing up people that literally are spending your whole month’s rent in one shopping trip, it’s really easy to laugh at how shallow everything around you seems.

And I haven’t made much sense of those feelings yet, and I haven’t developed a very good defense strategy against them- other than finding comfort in the fact that maybe this is something I should just lean in to. And I wonder if people like Mother Teresa (sp?) or Martin Luther King or Ghandi had the same critiques about their lives. I wonder if they often felt like there was so much more that they could be doing. I wonder if they even realized how much change they made. And not that I would ever impact the world on that kind of degree, but I have always been a big believer that we impact people more than we think. You know, that quote that someone smart said- “you may not be able to change the world, but you can change the world for one person.”

Sooooooo if any of my fellow millennials are feeling similar things- know that you’re not alone. We matter, the seemingly meaningless jobs matter, and I think that regardless of how much change we bring to the world- we will always feel that there is more to be done. So that’s where I’m at. Holla if you feel the same.

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