Old Thoughts, New Paths

Home for the holidays – both a delight and a demoralizing agent. Almost three weeks have passed since I got on a plane back to the states from Morocco. I surprised myself with how quickly I adjusted back into my old routine; Post-college student trying to figure out his life. I hate that sentence. So much in fact that I designed a way not to face the inevitable onrush of my future by giving family members and friends the vague mentioning of goals. This way I both convinced myself and others that I had my shit together. I am here to tell you, I don’t. My shit is everywhere. It’s a mess, the toilet is backed up, and for some reason I really love toilet analogies.

So this is what I told people whenever they asked me, “so what now?”:

“Oh, you know, I just decided the Peace Corps wasn’t the right fit. I really want to pursue something in research and then I hope to go to grad school, but you never know.”

Sometimes I threw in the words “international” or “policy” to make it sound more exact and like I had a handle on things. The bathroom door has no handle, and it is quickly filling up with all this shit.

However, even before the Peace Corps months, I had no real idea of where I wanted to end up. This is the problem with many people of my generation (or maybe it is just me, which could be true); we want to be something, do something, but we can never really peg down what that thing is in the long term. I have fantasized about being a professor, a travel writer, an author, an illustrator, a broadway star, a wealthy finance manager, a cafe owner, and the fantasies go on and on. The problem is I, we, don’t really commit, do we? We put in a little work and then step back to admire the couple steps we actually did take or the steps we might next take.

This is my problem. My attention goes from the one thing to daydreaming about all the things I could be doing, barely allowing me the time to commit to the long term goal. This is not the overall problem, though. The BIG problem is the lack of “knowing.” I have all these interests and skills, but here I am trying to find ways in which I can pursue and utilize all of them at once. I tried this with school when I majored in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. I tried this when I studied abroad and did a semester long study on Applied Philosophy in the Literature of Shakespeare (a subject I made up because I really really wanted to study Shakespeare but needed a philosophy credit for school). I keep trying to do everything, when all I really need to do is apply myself to that one thing.

What is that one thing? International issues. I know with certainty this interest of mine sits at the top of the interest pyramid I have steadily worked on building since I was a kid playing with beanie babies and establishing rivaling beanie baby cities and regions.

And that’s that. Old thoughts shaped into new paths. I left Peace Corps because I wanted to pursue work in research. That was once a vague comfort to both myself and those asking. Now, with the end of the holidays and the reality of my decisions settling in, I find myself wanting this path (vague as it is) and willing to pursue the goals along the way (hopefully somewhere towards international policy). To be honest, I have no idea how to start or where to begin or if I am already on the path or not. I guess the next step is to apply to jobs so I actually have money in the bank.

I am saying all of this not because I wanted to share with all of you the inner workings of my brain train. I shared this because I left something I thought I wanted for a long time and came back home with no real ideas of where I wanted to go. The future is opaque, at best, but at least I know where I want to end up next. It’s time to mop up all that shit in the bathroom.

(I apologize for the sudden shift of this blog post into some kind of New Year’s Resolution. Ignore the closeness of the New Year, and simply read as if I was writing this in the middle of summer.)

Keep on keeping on,

J

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