I’m having a quarter life crisis.
I’m 26. I’m an artist. I sling tacos and cappuccinos and clean up a tattoo shop to (almost) pay the bills. I embroider and I bead and I embellish fabric until my carpal tunnel fires up when I’m not doing those things. I see my friends and I miss my family and I watch TV and eat delicious meals with my boyfriend when I’m not doing those things. I’m never flush with cash. I’ve got a fledgling business selling my creations that feels like it’s always going to be fledgling. Over all, it’s not that bad. It’s a really good life, the life I have. I’m happy with it, I’m proud of it, I know it’s a work in progress and that things will get better.
But here’s the thing. Here’s the thing that’s been eating me up, chewing me raw, reducing me to a stupid pulp every fucking day.
I don’t know what my dreams are. I don’t have any goals. I know I want and crave and can have the career and the future I want, but I have no idea what it is. Everything is so fucking abstract, and I feel like I’m trying to nail down smoke when I attempt to figure out what it is.
As a 20-something, inevitably, nearly every time I talk with friends, we talk about careers. We talk about how frustrated we are, how stuck we feel, how deeply uncertain we are. What I say every time is that we are all in the infancies of our careers. We feel like we have to have it all sorted, all planned, because we’re a few years out of college and paying our bills and in bigger meeting rooms and taking on more responsibilities in life in general. But we’re fucking babies. We don’t know anything! No one does at 26 what they’ll do the rest of their lives.
But that idea isn’t nearly enough to soothe me. I still panic. I still convulse with uncertainty.
So, I’ve been hiding under the covers.
I’ve been crying into my hands until my mascara and my snot become one nasty viscous homogenous clot.
I’ve been yelling at my cat when he knocks stuff over, even though it’s me I’m mad at. I’ve been slamming my fist into my dresser drawers in the morning, because I want so badly to work in fashion but I don’t know what I want and it all feels unattainable, and it makes me angry that I have to get dressed in the morning. That I have to confront these articles of clothing, the thing I love so fucking much, the act of dressing a reminder that I feel abandoned by my purpose.
What the fuck am I going to do?
Short term, I spoke up. When saying what I’m thinking is the hardest thing to do, it’s got to mean it’s the right thing to do. Right?
I reached out this week to the members of a private Facebook group of which I’m a member. The group is for women (and some men) entrepreneurs, and it’s full of the kinds of people you don’t even think are possible in the real world. Creative, unapologetic, honest people, who are beyond willing to share their compassion, advice, and experience with someone like me, someone stirring her mascara/snot smears in her palms.
They offered me buckets and moats and rivers and oceans of advice. Personal. Experienced. Heartfelt. And I cried some more.
These women, my god. They’re oracles, each and every one of them. I’ve never felt so much love and support from strangers in my life. But they’re not really strangers, are they? They’re brave people, like me, on similar journeys. Each and every one of us wants something more out of life and work than the prescribed path. We’re fighting tooth and nail to create work that is meaningful and fulfilling to us, to our souls, to our families, to our places in the world.
I’m choosing not to share their specific words here, because what was said was said in confidence, between girlfriends. I hold their words dear.
Today, I went to the post office and sent off a couple packages, each of which held a piece of my artwork I was sending out into the world. The woman who helped me asked if I was an artist, and I answered “yes.” She looked at one package I was sending (creatively wrapped), looked me up and down, and said “You’re going places, honey. You’re going to have to come back here and give me your autograph!”
I nearly cried on the counter.
I hope, against hope against hope against hope, is that other people who feel the way I feel right now have support systems like mine. I have a family chock full of people who accept me wherever I am, and believe in my ability to make a brighter future. I have a boyfriend and friends who make me laugh and let me dance around like a fool and sing Lady Gaga songs at them and I have people who will hold my hand next to a fire pit while I cry it out or rage about how fucked the world still is. I have this group of strangers on the internet who are actually guiding lights in the middle of a crisis of self. I have found the one post office in Baltimore City where the people working there treat customers like human beings, and can see exactly what the person in front of them needs to hear right this moment. I’m lucky as hell. And I’m thankful as hell.
What I really hope to say with this post is this –
It sucks. It’s hard. It’s like this for most of us, if not all of us. And I hope you have a support system. And if you don’t, hit me up. I’m here for you. We all deserve to feel supported while we’re figuring it out. And we will figure it out. And we will slay.
I love you.