Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Growing Up Is Hard to Do

It's a year after my graduation from university, and it seems as though it is only now that I'm feeling like I'm stepping onto the next stage of life. How come?

Well, the most obvious reason is that friends are picking up and leaving. A few of us had decided to stay in Montreal after graduation because we were so fond of the city. Others have stayed to finish their degree. Now, most of us are gone, or leaving... because it's time to move on.

Some of us are moving on to post-graduate studies, some to work, some to go back home, and some to travel and live a new adventure. It's strange - for those of us who have moved on already, a year ago... you'd think that, as we're farther ahead in our careers than others, like myself, we would surely feel more grown up... and surely, we would've already gotten over the bittersweet ending of our student lives. Funny how that doesn't hold true. In fact, it is only now that it's all starting to sink in. We're not students anymore. We're not kids anymore.

But who says that anything needs to change, right? Why can't we live life as we always have? Even if we're working full-time, why should the relationships that we've taken so long to establish and learned to cherish have to change at all?

Well, because life happens... and we no longer make our decision based on our friends. Our thoughts no longer revolve around whether we should go to the school dance, or whether we should study together. We start thinking about what we want, deep inside. What career do I want? Which city do I want to live in? Who do I truly love? Do I want to get married? Do I want children? When do I want to settle down? Do I want to settle down? What do I want to do before I settle down? What do I want out of life?

And as we define ourselves more and more, we tend to make more important and more specific decisions. We move to a different city, we go back to school to get the degree we should have pursued in the first place, we give up things we care about for other things we care more about, we take a job abroad, we break-up, we become more honest with ourselves, we prioritize, we think about our values... we grow up.

I'm 23 years old. I work in the industry of my dreams. I have a job that gives me the freedom to make my own share of rules, the independence and leadership that I am capable of handling, the opportunity to learn, to be challenged, to wear a t-shirt, jeans and flip flops every day, the luxury of having lunch on the mountain that is just a couple of blocs away... I have friends I know I'll never lose. People who are there for me, who understand me, people with whom I can really connect with. I really don't have much to complain about.

So why am I weary of the future? Why is it so easy to feel alone? Why do I keep on trying to hang on to the threads of the past?

Things are changing. And since the past is the only thing we really know, it's safer to wish that the good things that we have today will remain. But as we move on, we start caring about different things. In building our lives, we take on more and more responsibilities - towards our career, our loved one... and eventually, our own family, maybe. And though we'll never lose our true friends, they'll take a back seat in the scheme of things. It's those who can let you go and understand that you need to live the life you want (or think you do) while still knowing how to stay in your life somehow who'll remain your true friends. Those are the people you know you'll always be able to rely on... ouf, what a load, right? I guess that's just how precious friendship is. Your closest friends are there for you despite time, distance or change. They keep you grounded. They remind you of who you've always been and wanted to be. And you'll always love each other and you'll always connect... no matter how much things might change.

That's comforting, isn't it? I know that's what's keeping me going on. Of course, it doesn't stop me from being sad to admit that we won't be able to walk down the street and see each other as often as we'd like to and share our everyday thoughts with each other...

As we come out of school, the whole world opens up to us. Some of us follow a path we've always known. Some take chances. Some go where the money is. Some follow their dreams. I guess we're all bound to go through this period feeling alone, no matter what we choose. I'm sure that we all ask ourselves these never ending questions and make life defining decisions based on the answers we give ourselves... hoping and convincing ourselves that they are right.

Living a life you settled for is sad... and though living the life you want may feel lonely at times, I know I'm part of the lucky ones that'll always keep going after the life that they truly want.

I guess I really am at the better end of all this.

I know that the best time of my life is yet to come. I know this is all just a part of growing up... I'm just sayin - it ain't easy to let go!

1 comment:

Sameer Vasta said...

Beautiful.

I'm twenty-six and three years out of school and can still identify with most of what you say here.

Thanks for articulating it so eloquently.