Being a grown-up is overrated

You know it’s true.

Like, way overrated.

I mean, I guess there are some upsides. Wine. There’s an upside. Unlimited cake. There’s another.

But right now I’m having trouble remembering all the others.

Today, I had to turn down what sounded like a really cool job. I turned it down because:

1 – it paid peanuts (when really, cash is my preferred currency)

2 – it had a fairly crappy retirement package compared to my current situation (and this proves just how grown-up I am – I seriously didn’t even bother signing up for the retirement plan with my first few nursing jobs because the stack of paperwork was intimidating and besides, I was pretty sure I was never growing old, like never ever), and

3 – it didn’t provide as much schedule flexibility, which suddenly matters when there are these small people living with you that share your DNA who kinda want you to show up for recitals and book fairs and ice cream socials, many of which happen at times and in places that conflict with your typical full-time job + 10 days of paid vacation time per year.

Despite these very material issues, this new job sounded super exciting. I’d have had tons more responsibility (plus/minus?) and a fancy title. Fancy titles feel like the emotional equivalent of a sparkly tiara. I love tiaras. Yes please.

So there I was, considering this peanuts-paying but sparkly-tiara-providing position where I’m being told how awesome all these strangers think I am, and yet at the same time…

being told by my current powers-that-be that – you know what? Maybe you’re not so special after all. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we’d like you to keep doing what you’re doing (and then some, and then some, always more please) but don’t get any ideas about getting a tiara of your own someday.

You know what pre-grown-up LB would do? She’d tell her current tiara-withholding powers-that-be to go screw off, and take the crappy-paying tiara-providing position elsewhere. Just to make a point. Fine, some might call it a tantrum. A tantrum with consequences.

But just to prove what a grown-up I am, I did the thing I knew I had to do. I looked at the numbers, realized I really didn’t have any other choice to make, and I turned down the elsewhere-tiara, trudging back to Land of Mediocrity Celebrated.

I know it was the only choice I could make. But it still sucks.

Because being a grown-up is overrated.

But at least I still have 2:1 matching on my 403B. And that’s certainly something.

 

*****

 

(Besides, that tiara was probably made out of twisted aluminum foil and stick-on plastic gems anyhow. Right? Right?)

 

*****

 

(Btw – I promise to get back to writing about actual health care stuff here soon. The last 6 weeks of my life have been dominated by professional uncertainty. Now that a few of those question marks have been taken care of, I’m getting back in the saddle.) (So to speak.*)

 

 

*no actual saddles will be harmed in the writing of this blog

The beginning of the end/the end of the beginning

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The same thing happens to me every year.

I’m heading to work in the same sleepy way I start pretty much every day. (I wish I could say I WAKE UP EVERY DAY READY TO TAKE ON THE WORLD! but that would be a dirty lie. Plus, annoying.)

So there I am, riding the train with all the other groggy commuters as we all zone out, staring at the free paper the guy pushes in our hands on our way in, or at our various depersonalizing digital devices, or at nothing at all, eyes unfocused until the conductor calls out our stop.

Eventually, my stop is called. I get up, moving forward slowly with the zombie-walking masses onto the platform and up the escalator.

As I emerge on to the main level of the station – which just so happens to double as a footpath through campus – I remember that it’s not a routine, mundane day at all.

It’s graduation day.

And every year, the sight of those no-longer college students, those-not-so-young-anymore young adults, dressed in their grown-up best with black polyester gown flapping open in the late spring breeze, gets me.

Now sure, I may also have been known to tear up at a really well constructed Coca-Cola commercial, BUT STILL. It’s a pretty amazing sight.

I mean, think about everything this moment – wearing the respectable yet still-uncomfortable heels Mom insisted you’d need for job interviews and carrying the mortarboard hat you stayed up until 2am decorating with scrapbook material from Target – represents.

It doesn’t only represent the end of your childhood. It represents the beginning of the rest of your life – the part where you start down the path you’ve chosen over the past 4-6 years, and continue down that path until…maybe…forever? AND EVER? Let’s hope you made the right choice (nervous laughter). BUT NO PRESSURE. Enjoy your day!

Oh right. That’s where that glint of terror in their eyes comes from. It’s hiding behind the breathless anticipation of all the pomp and circumstance, sure, but it’s there.

There’s an exuberant finality to this Hallmark-approved milestone that makes graduation both really, really exciting and really, really scary, all at once.

When I was a kid, I always thought of adulthood as this time where you’d become A Thing – a doctor, a lawyer, the president, a rock star – and then you did that Thing for the rest of your life.

But speaking as a Certified Grown-Up (GU-C) myself, I think we need to rethink our thinking on this. Mentally committing yourself to one profession for the rest of your life at the age of 22 feels a little like preparing for years to climb Mt. Everest, finally making it to the top, and then pitching a tent (presumably a very small one) and staying there FOREVER.

Yes, graduation day is exciting. But it’s really just the beginning of the rest of your life – just like every day is the beginning of the rest of your life. (Except this one comes with a really good party and thirty years of loan repayment.)

I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re not sure you’ve found your Thing by the time you’re standing there with that heavily decorated cardboard square on your head, don’t let it get you down. Even those of us who thought we’d found our Thing by the time we graduated from college, or grad school, or insert-milestone-here, later realized that the person we’d become wanted to do another Thing altogether.

Because that’s life. Life is evolution. The person we are at 22 might not be the person we are at 30, or 40, or 55. Each of those people has learned some new stuff about themselves and the world, and the super fun thing about all of this is that each of those people gets to decide to change course and start doing a completely different Thing if they feel like it. It might not be easy, or cheap, but it’s your choice to make.

So with that, here’s to all my soon-to-be-former patients: enjoy the party, tell Sallie Mae I said hello when she comes calling, don’t forget to get that repeat Pap in 6 months – and in the meantime, just do the Thing you think you’re meant to be doing, right now. The rest will sort itself out in the end.