Wondering what immediate-post-grad quasi-quarterlife adulthood looks like?
I want you to take a look at this with me.
I’ve always been a firm believer in the theory that you can measure a person by the tabs in her Firefox (and if she’s using Safari, then I’m just about done with my judgment of her). Please view the above and ponder for a bit.
I’ve been thinking a lot about a particular “real world” phenomenon that really whacked me in the face upon entering the workforce.
I call it the afterlife.
If you’re an obnoxious city yuppy like me, you’ve been working a long time to get to where you are. Before, I used to come home from hours of irrelevance (class, work study, “group meetings”) and stay up into the wee hours working towards what I really wanted — the job I want, the career I want; a great network to get both of those things. Cut to me fine tuning my resume, my website, my latest embarrassing video ’till the walk-of-shamers came marching in.
And now, I’m lucky enough to get what I was working for. Now I’m pouring my freakin’ heart and soul into it, every second of the working day. And when I get home, everything I used to worry about is irrelevant because I got what I worked for.
But that leaves a very different void: Dealing with everything else. You’re not bringing back homework or long-term projects. Your time is your own. Work is king for me right now, so what comes after is a different beast — my afterlife.
What else was there besides working towards this?
How many happy hours can you commit to before going broke?
What’s there to worry about now?
Which brings me back to the tabs.
My tabs used to regularly consist of:
- Facebook, to keep up with fellow seniors’ happenings
- Tumblr, to distract myself with fellow anyones’ happenings
- WordPress, to tweak my resume or portfolio
- GMail, to send my next 8,000 informational interview/job inquiring message
- U-Haul checkout, to book a truck & move into my new place
- T. Rowe, to figure out what the hell a 401K is and what those words are doing in this packet I got
- Facebook! … To trade messages with a friend in Midtown who’s donating their bed
- A Google search for reviews of my future neighborhood
- And YouTube, because the thought of my friends & I moving my new full bed up 4 flights of stairs elicits the obvious response: Ross screaming “PIVOT!”
Don’t worry, kids; some things never change.
I see it like this.
Life’s a jungle, right? Freakin’ Jurassic Park. I was speeding through the treacherous tundra of adolescence and college in my army-style jalopy, getting my wheels stuck in muddy ditches like procrastination and awful roommates, airing my pits out in the cool breezes of like-minded friends and unparalleled travel experiences, speeding through fratty swamps that smelled like beer that smelled like pee. Whatever I was doing, I was moving forward.
To me, my “real world” means I’ve gotten to where I wanted; I’ve put it in park, wiped the dirt off my face, even got out and put my hands on my hips and stalked around a bit. In my “real world,” I don’t need to speed forward anymore; I don’t even need to get behind the wheel. I can refuel and use the bathroom and stay right where I am.
My “real world” is dealing with finally staying still and not itching so badly to put it in drive. My “real world” is my college life flipped upside-down; instead of being in stand-by mode in class all day and jetting around at night, I’m jetting around at work and dealing with the freedom and justification of standing by at night.
Turns out, when you strip away all the crap, what’s left of me now is UHaul, YouTube, a lot of Kindle and a lot of margaritas. It’s like having thousands of Legos thrown at your head for 4-8 years of your life, constant clicking and crashing and bonking, then it finally goes quiet and a voice over a loudspeaker says,
“Okay. Now build.”
The “real world,” it seems, is finding your identity without all the distractions.