This is Adulthood

So busy has been an understatement the last few months as I wrapped up grad apps and started back into research. [Fortunately all the stress of the application process turned out to be useful – I’m in! In September I officially start my Masters!!] Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond excited to have been accepted into grad school, but at this point I am mildly terrified. When I moved to Ottawa, I moved close to my brother and my dad’s side of the family so it wasn’t as scary. Looking back on it I feel like I am in the exact same place now as I was then – a room full of boxes and a huge move in the works. Except now I am an Adult. I am expected to be mature enough to not be terrified by the prospect of moving 4 hours from anyone I know. Or you know I think that was tucked somewhere in the fine print of the contract.

So basically I spend my days waffling between:

 Jumping up and down in random places in a fit of exuberance...

YAY GRAD SCHOOL!!! THIS IS SO AWESOME!!! WEEEEEE!!

and…

 Oh wait. I am supposed to be responsible now? I have to know things?!

Oh wait. I am supposed to be responsible now? I have to know things?!

oh my god what

But I mean somewhere in there is me figuring out this whole Adult thing.

I’ve been working for a year with my parents and it still throws me off though when people come to me as a sort of authority in things at work. When people come to me for direction.

This shift back to grad school has always been my plan, but I meant a plan and reality it turns out are two very different things. Now that I have packed up and officially moved out of Ottawa and am actively hunting for apartments, I am coming to realize the identity shift that came with all these plans coming to fruition. I submitted a review of my supervisor’s grant proposal Friday morning and realized that my opinion is being taken into account. I am no longer a passive learner expected to bathe in the glorious knowledge of my professors. I am expected to have an opinion and be able to cogently defend it. I am also expected to know what cogently means (legit – it was a word in the GRE Vocab list). I am expected to further the knowledge of my field and create a sense of confidence in my abilities. I am being trained to help people mentally heal. That’s a lot of responsibility for a lowly twenty-something.

I am now an adult, but what is that? I still have little understanding of how mortgages really work. I don’t understand the benefit of fixed over variable mortgage rates. And I only learned how to drywall two weeks ago.  I was 21 before I learned to change a tire. Living in residence, my basement apartment, and the house I eventually settled in were progressively independent ventures, but this feels different. This is me. Financially independent. Responsible for every bill. Calling around for insurance rates and driving in an overly cautious manner to maximize my insurance discount (and calling them to complain when the guy in front of me slammed on his brakes. But it’s not my faullltttt!). Me, as an adult. 4 hours from literally anyone I know.  On my own.

Like the baby ducklings in front of (back of?) my house - time to do the first solo journey.

Like the baby ducklings in front of (back of?) my house – time to do the first solo journey.

Of course I am filled with paranoia – what if something goes wrong? My toilet is running uncontrollably? My car won’t start? Problem with being in a lot of university programs is that they are great for preparing you for your career. I can talk about psychology for days. I love psych. Problem is that “Quantitative Methods in Psychology I/II” didn’t cover filing your taxes and balancing the budget. There was no “Dealing with minor plumbing problems” or “Why Your Car Won’t Start 101” in my program. So I am adult, but in many ways I still feel like I am meant to be supervised. It drives me nuts that my mom still reminds me to look both ways before crossing the street and reminds me how to properly wash dishes, but am I totally ready to be a independent responsible adult?

Let’s look at the facts:

  1. Every day I wave hello to the pigmy goats, llamas, and other farm animals on my way to and from work.

    Thank you internet for always providing umpteen billion pictures of cute animals.

    Thank you internet for always providing umpteen billion pictures of cute animals.

  2. I still giggle every time I think of the goat I saw running around the farm yard that skidded in the snow when he attempted to stop.
  3. After searching for a pigmy goat picture to portray the view on my drive to work (did I mention they also have miniature reindeer and big fluffy llamas that sit facing the road?!) I spent a further 10 minutes giggling over photos of baby farm animals.
  4. The closest I have come to doing laundry lately is putting things in the machine and turning it on. The clothes mysteriously appear folded in my room after 24 hours

    Mom went to Mexico for 11 days. It was rough.

    Mom went to Mexico for 11 days. It was rough.

  5. Last week I yelled at my fish for not eating.

    “Why are you sleeping?!” If I ain’t getting nap time ain’t nobody getting nap time!

  6. I cede my pillow to my cat on a nightly basis.

    She looks so happy though.

    She looks so happy though.

  7. I fully believe timbits are an acceptable breakfast.
  8. I haven’t made my bed in 5 days except for the morning after I had a particularly fitful sleep I rearranged the sheets to be at least on the bed.
  9. It took me those 5 days to put away the clothes that had mysteriously appeared the week before.
  10. My carry-on sized suitcase is still half packed because I am too lazy to finish the job (I’m living in box city right now thanks to this half-moved state. What’s one more box?!)
  11. The muffler of my car broke two weeks ago (of course in the middle of no where!) and I had no freaking clue what to do about it, whether it was driveable, or how much it would cost.

Okay so it looks pretty bad, but I mean I’ve lived solo before. I remember to feed the cat (okay, when she very loudly demands I remember. But I remember to buy the food. Mostly.) I’ve got the grocery shopping thing nailed. I can cook and bake things. I know how to do laundry (even if I elect not to do it as frequently as my mother feels I should). Worst case, I know how to make really tasty icing for bad days. Shouldn’t be that bad? [For the record, the dedication to fill the fridge and use its contents to make delicious things are how I rationalize my lack of attention to the laundry. It’s a fair trade.].

Either way, ready of not, here it is. I am an adult. I am expected to pay my taxes, vote (and not just by inni-meeny-minee-moe, using a real, informed opinion), renew licenses and health cards in a timely manner, show up to work on time, to be accountable to something/someone other than my childish whims. They say the devil is in the details, and maybe I haven’t got the sense of responsibility sorted out just yet, but baby steps. You know. Figure out how to do the dishes before I run out of plates.

I am an adult. Hear me roar. Or mew like a kitten.

Yeah. Let’s go with mewing.

At least I figure out that I put on my big girl panties sometime in the last 4 years without noticing.

Whether I realized it or not,  maybe I figured out adulthood a long time ago.

In Favour of Being a Nomad: Where Do I Belong?

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately, it really hit me Thursday after I attended the last lecture of my undergraduate career. I am graduating. I’m done. Except I’m not leaving the city. I’m barely leaving the university.

My kitchen table had a stack of papers that very closely resembles this one. I would have posted a picture of my thesis except owing to big bad tech world I didn't actually have to print anything.

My kitchen table had a stack of papers that very closely resembles this one. I would have posted a picture of my thesis except owing to big bad tech world I didn’t actually have to print anything.

Then Friday, my thesis was due. I closed my eyes and hit send on my 55 page thesis. I had worked for a year on a project and it had finally come to some sort of close. And then it hit me.
My house was a mess, I had to deal with that. ASAP. Jokes. It hit me that I was graduating.
But being serious – it hit me that despite the fact that four years ago I was ready to quit, but hey, I stuck it out and here I was ready for the big kid world.

I have spent the last four years in Ottawa. I have lived in 6 different places. Packed up and moved my life more times than I care to count. Into residence, out of residence, back out of my parents, into my brother’s, out of my brother’s, into my basement apartment, back to my parents, back to Ottawa. The number of miles I have racked up driving back and forth between the village and the city is mildly alarming.
It hit me this morning when I went to the Village Starbucks, disappointingly 10 minutes from my parents’ place rather than the 4.5 minute drive from my place in Ottawa. What can I say – Ottawa loves it’s Starbucks, Village ain’t so fancy. But as I left the Starbucks I realized that I didn’t look anything like the person that left Barrie for the first time four years ago. I looked a lot like a city girl. And of course we change over time, we are constantly evolving, learning from everything we do, changing our minds about what we want to do, how we want to feel, who we want to know, and what sort of person we want to be. But as I left the Starbucks mulling over this drastic shift the last year has brought upon me, including the new Starbucks addiction, I thought “Oh I’m not from here.

When I arrived at the grocery store, a cheerful Girl Guide offered me some cookies, and I apologized and explained that I had already bought some in Ottawa. And again that phrase, “I’m not from here,” ran through my mind.

It makes me sad that the whole shoe tree thing just south of Kinmount is gone. It was a sign that I was almost home...So much change

It makes me sad that the whole shoe tree thing just south of Kinmount is gone. It was a sign that I was almost home…Or you know that I was at least an hour into the drive home. 

And then I flashed back to all the times I had said “I’m going home” to refer to both the Village and the City. And how I planned on moving yet again to a whole new city/village next year for grad school.

And I realized I sort of become a nomad, despite not really travelling anywhere exciting, and having places that I call home. I just collect homes like some people collect stamps.

But all this got me thinking, if I have now been in Ottawa long enough that I don’t really say “I’m from here” when I am in Barrie, should I not say I’m from Ottawa? Which I do, when I’m here. And then when I’m in Ottawa, I tell people I’m from “a place about an hour north of Toronto” (though apparently the village is becoming less village-like because when people ask where and I tell them, they actually know where I’m talking about). So at the end of the day, I really appear to belong neither here nor there. At least in my mind.

It's not Thursday, but hey let's go back to the last time I graduated.

It’s not Thursday, but hey let’s go back to the last time I graduated.

So I’m graduating, I’ve got two exams left, 15 days from now I will be done my degree, 68 days from now I will cross the stage at the NAC, pick up my $40 000 piece of paper and that will be the end of it. And then where do I belong?
My regular readers know that this quasi-identity crisis isn’t much of a new thing for me as I’ve waded my way through fourth year, but it’s taken a new direction. (No pun intended. Maybe a little intended.)

Sort of like in the second Pocahontas movie when Pocahontas is faced with the whole John Smith (who she thought she was dead) versus that other guy (who I didn’t like as much anyways) and she starts that scene “Where do I go from here?”
Yes, I am contemplating a Disney binge to avoid the trauma of this impeding massive life change. Don’t judge. You all know it’s a compelling solution.

But this Disney binge doesn’t solve this “where do I go? Where do I belong?” question. Just reminds me of a time I didn’t have to answer that because the government and my parents had my life planned.

Disney has answered all my other big life questions, and yet it can’t answer the question every recent or impending grad is forced to stumble through answering 10 times a week.
Figures, they can give you a guide to life, but the Simba never had to look for jobs, and the princesses all just get their happily ever after, so I guess I’m on my own figuring out what to do with my $40 000 piece of paper. And they all only had one home. Except Ariel. She may be able to help me out a bit here.

I know where I will end up eventually. I know I will eventually get into grad school. But knowing where I want to go next doesn’t tell me where I belong now. Except maybe the solution is accepting that maybe I can belong wherever I want to be, wherever I am. Maybe where I belong doesn’t have to a place, maybe instead of thinking “I’m not from here” I need to think “I have multiple places I belong” or “I am here now” – translation instead of thinking where else I should be I should think about where I am – enjoy the moment, stop worrying about the last one or planning the next one.
And who knows, maybe there will be some spillover, and I’ll learn to stop tying who I am to what I am doing. Translation – being a student won’t be my identity because it’s what I DO not who I AM.
Two birds with one stone.
Just a thought.

Maybe I should try having a few less thoughts though.
Might save me the need for all this soul searching and identity crises.
Last thought. I promise.
I should probably focus on studying. You know, finals.

studyOr… I could finish binge watching Suits with my textbooks open beside me, so I can at least pretend I am studying hard.