Since the end of the year is mere days away, it’s the time of year where people look back on the past 12 months and try to figure out how they’ve shaped their lives. I’m happy to say that 2012 was actually an incredibly positive year for me. I accomplished a lot – started a band, made a major career change, rescued the most adorable mutt, made new friends, reconnected with old ones, got involved in local government….the list goes on.
It’s strange how life speeds up after college. I graduated from Northeastern almost 4 years ago and my foot has been stuck to the accelerator of life ever since. In that time I’ve done quite a bit of learning and growing up. I fully accept that I am no longer “from Pennsylvania” but now “from Massachusetts.” It’s taken awhile for me and my family to come to those terms, but at the end of the day, I really love living here and this is where I’ve spent my entire adult life so far. Only a few years ago I was scared out of my mind trying to figure out my life after graduating in the darkest part of the “great recession.” I lived a pretty fragile existence trying not to become part of the boomerang generation or one of the many graduate students who try to find themselves while piling on more debt. My parents sacrificed a lot for my education and there was no way I was going to become a financial and emotional burden on them for failing to live independently.
I have many people to thank for helping me out through this time. As someone who suffered severe social anxiety for a very long time, it’s taken a lot of energy to break out of my shell and learn how to ask for direction, even from people I know very well and trust. Somehow I viewed this as a sign of weakness…but in reality it’s more of a symptom of stubbornness than anything else. The most important life lesson I’ve learned during this period in my life is that no one truly finds success on their own. I don’t even think I would even view myself as even remotely successful if other people didn’t point out that I was doing pretty ok for myself. I’ve had a lot of support from my boyfriend, friends, family, mentors, professors, classmates, and professional connections that helped me get here.
Is it luck? Somewhat. Getting to live in 21st century America is actually a pretty big score for anyone in the game of life – especially if you’re a woman. Sure glad I’m not a feudal serf in medieval Europe. Luck is what led to me bumping into the drummer of my band on the #1 bus after thinking I’d never see her again after we graduated.
Is it making the best out of whatever situation you’re in? Sure. My mom taught me this one – beating yourself up and feeling sorry for yourself gets you nowhere. Breaking the vicious cycles of depression and stagnation can’t be done by wallowing in self-pity. I was living paycheck to paycheck not that long ago, but I was having a damn fun time doing it while accumulating a lot of important experience that led to me getting out of that rut.
Is it being able to recognize a good opportunity and take a risk? Absolutely. I was incredibly nervous about leaving my last job because I liked it so much and worked with really wonderful people. But I knew I wanted to change gears career-wise and the perfect gig came along for the field I was itching to get into. I left on excellent terms even though I was anxious about the move.
Being able to initiate change isn’t easy, but it’s the best thing you could ever do for yourself. 2012 gave me the first taste of stability after all those changes and a sense self-awareness that I haven’t had before. I didn’t get here by myself and, no, my life isn’t perfect – no one’s is. There’s a lot of work I still need to do and a lot more I need to learn. Let’s see what 2013 brings, shall we?