the life thing

They say that losing loved ones ages you.  It’s weird because I feel like that’s true, but I also feel like–in many ways–it makes me younger…even though my physical age doesn’t reflect that.

On one hand, I am definitely a lot more serious than I used to be.  More driven and focused.  More careful in some very real ways, but also much more responsible about things.  Mostly because I don’t have a Mommy and Daddy to loan me money or let me crash on their couch.  I’m also a lot more impatient about my life.  I feel like I’m woefully behind–because, in many ways–I absolutely am.

Losing both of your parents at a young age really does change your life irrevocably.  For me, it’s almost like my life hit the pause button, but my body kept aging and I’ve been fighting to unpause it for a while now.  I don’t feel anywhere close to 37, and no one can believe I’m over 30.  That seems impossibly old, and most of my peers feel impossibly old with all the things they have to do.  I have none of those things.  I’m not in a relationship.  I don’t own a car.  I don’t have kids.  I rent my apartment.  I can work from anywhere.  I have no family keeping me anywhere.  All my choices are mine and basically affect only me.  Nothing I do can really hurt anyone except me.  The only thing I really have is cats and roommates, which is sorta like having kids. 😉 (not really).

It’s weird because some people definitely envy my freedom, but I’m still dealing with a lot of things most people left behind in their 20s.  I don’t feel like a grown-up, and I wonder if I ever will.  I wonder if losing my mother means I will always, in some ways, be 26.  (That made me unexpectedly emotional).  It’s so much harder now because I have a career that isn’t exactly right that’s hard to leave.  And I don’t have a safety net.  I spent so much of my 20s literally just trying to survive–trying to understand my life after she died.  Trying not to drown in my own grief.  Trying to love other people and often failing miserably because of that grief.  It made it hard to really do things I wanted to do.  I made a lot of mistakes with school and career and love.

Sometimes, people romanticize my life to me.  And, at times, so do I.  Because despite all the shit I’ve been through, it’s a good life.  I have a freedom now that I never had before and that very few people I know have.  I’ve worked hard to create a location-independent life.  I live pretty comfortably and have all my needs met right now.  But the things that allowed me to have this life constantly drive me to worry about all kinds of things.  And often, I wonder if those things are going to cause me to never have those other things I really, really want.  And it’s odd because I’d rather have some mix of the two.

I want a family, but I just don’t have that.  So, it’s on me to create it–which, btw, is really hard.  At the same time, I don’t want the pressure and expectations I see my friends have with their families.  And it all really complicates the whole looking for a mate thing.  Because I don’t really do casual anything, and if I’m in it, it’s long-haul.  And my life is not what most people expect–both good and bad.  And it’s super difficult to explain to those who haven’t been through it.  It’s hard to seek support.  And often, my life attracts people who need me to be broken–which isn’t something I want to be. Anyone who enters this life has to be prepared to be my family.  Which can be overwhelming and isolating.  But they also have to be prepared for me to be the independent woman I have to be–which isn’t always something people embrace about me.  And I still have such a hard time balancing the two–letting people love and support me while doing all the things that keep this ship running.

I’ve made some inroads into the family I have left, but it’s not what I want.  And I may have to be okay with never having it.  I want children and marriage, but I’ve yet to find a guy who loves me as much as I love him who wants what I want and is as committed as I am to making it work.  I may have to choose kids before I meet the right guy.  Hell, the right guy may not exist.  Maybe there isn’t someone for everyone.  I have to be okay with that.

And I don’t know where I’ll be living in five years.  I suspect the East coast, but who knows?  I’ve thought about Boston, Vermont, even Asheville.  But Oregon, Santa Fe, and even Jackson, WY beckons.  So many variables come up.  But for now, I’m mostly trying to live in now…while, of course (being me), planning all the things so I have some kind of roadmap to help me feel better about things.

###

I see myself in California for a few years, but definitely not forever.  It’s an experience I need to have, but it’s not going to ever be home–I don’t think.  So much of California irks me and challenges me–but I feel like I need that.  Right now, at least.  Can I handle the annoying parts of California for more than a few years?  Nope.

One of my goals for coming to California was to be able to go to better schools and explore more hippie dippy things, but I’ve been disappointed in that regard.  The Bay Area, at least, is not what I expected.  It’s much more conservative–actually more conservative than Colorado, if you can believe that–in many ways related to education.  I haven’t been all that impressed with the schools, and it’s led me to look elsewhere–to online programs…which I’d rather not do…but may make more sense.

On the plus side, it is the best place to learn about tech and launch that side career I’m hoping to embrace in the next little bit.  I am actually excited about that, and there are plenty of programs that are adult-friendly, and I will definitely be able to make more money once I go that route–which will support the rest of it.

I came to some important decisions recently.  Well, yesterday.

I still have that last damn class to take for my MNM–which feels like the neverending journey.  Literally every time I try to finish, my world collapses or I have a breakdown.  I feel so conflicted about that damn thing, because I’m so over it and probably won’t use it meaningfully ever, but I would be so mad at myself if I didn’t finish it.  I have the damn thesis written, so I really just need to enroll and turn the damn thing in.  But, of course, there’s an obstacle.  I can’t enroll until  next year.  I wanted to finish this summer, but they’re not offering what I need.  It’s annoying because it puts everything on hold.  But it’s actually probably good.  Because I need some calm after the beginning of this stupid year.  And I do need to do the things that will allow me to actually pay for all those other classes for my actual career.  I also would love to volunteer and take some art classes, too.

So, I’m going to find a program for UX/UI and developer stuff soon and do that in the evenings until I’m done with my MNM.  I’ll eventually work in that area until I’m done with school and internships.  I think I’m going to start my counseling program next fall.  Hopefully.  I’m applying to Northwestern’s part-time, on-line option, Boston University’s MSW, and Santa Clara–which is a Jesuit university locally.  My goal is to get a general counseling or social work degree.  If I do Northwestern, I’ll also do the child/adolescent specialization so I can work with adults and kids.  It’s a good idea to get my license in CA since it is the most difficult place to get licensed and should make transferring credentials state to state a bit easier when I do move.  After that, I’m going to add on specializations–trauma, grief, addiction, ecotherapy, art therapy, drama therapy–stuff like that.  I’d also like to do career counseling and life coaching.  I recently was selected to mentor new people at work, and it reminded me of how much I enjoy this stuff.  Eventually, I absolutely do want to get my PsyD or PhD, but I might just be happy doing this stuff in private practice.  The tech thing will also come into play here too.  And it will give me the freedom to work on my terms rather than having money drive my decisions.

So, now I just have to get ready for all of it and savor all that I can before it gets too crazy.

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