Milestones ! Isn’t there something scary about the word ? Maybe I am the only one who fears the pressure behind it. It appears that the norm when you reach your late twenties is to have a promising career, be married or engaged, welcome your first child and buy your first house or appartment. To know that this is where most people my age are in life reminds me of the teenager I once was. For years she wondered what a first kiss felt like, while everyone around her had experienced it many times over. And although the adult I am now has long pierced the mysteries behind male lips, when it comes to achievements I still have a lot in common with that little girl and the feeling of running behind still remains.

 

I lost my job a few months ago. It was last June, around the end of the academic year. The days here in DC were lovely and I was really looking forward to finally getting some time off. I never saw it coming, all I had in mind at that point in time was to find a good deal and go on a trip somewhere, anywhere. It had been a long year, one with many emotional challenges and a great deal of self inflicted stress. I really needed a break and a change of scenery. So when my employer annonced out of the blue that they had to let me go, I panicked as though my whole life depended on that very job. I felt helpless and gradually distanced myself from friends and acquaintances – I didn’t have the strengh to explain why it had such an impact on me or answer their questions about what my next move would be. I had no idea and I needed to figure it out on my own. As a result, I wasted my summer feeling lonely and miserable, my mind filled with worries, sadness and regrets.

 

You would think I liked the job that much, but I can’t say I did. To be completely honest, I was fairly ashamed and lied about it on many occasions. It felt like the easiest thing to do when you live in a city where your profession greatly defines who you are and « What do you do ? » is the first question you are asked upon meeting someone. Overtime I simply got tired of the hypocrit cheering that would follow every time I would answer that question. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t that terrible a job, it actually made a good temporary one : enriching in many aspects, it also came with great benefits. However it wasn’t fulfilling and could be somewhat belittling for someone my age.

 

Clearly I wasn’t mourning the job itself or the short-term stability it offered, it was rather the lack of enticing options due to years of confusion and indecisiveness. I had been improvising ever since I finished high school. I wasn’t the type of student who had big dreams or some sort of vision of a future career. I never had an answer to give when I was questioned about my aspirations. I remember being told back then that it was alright to be confused, that I was young and still had plenty of time to figure it out. No one ever worried too much about me because I used to work very hard and was successful in school. And that is precisely one of the things I was having regrets about. I wish They had worried then and looked beyond the good grades, for grades don’t always reflect intelligence and independence isn’t a synonym for maturity. I certainly was an autonomous child, but I was also disturbed, lonely and unhappy. I needed guidance, constructive advice and encouragements to find out what I was good at. I got orders and severity instead. But I can’t blame anyone, They were fighting their own battles and I understood long ago that parenthood isn’t innate.

 

The blame lies with me only, for the world is full of people who were confused just like I was, but still made the right decisions and are living a successful life today. If the teenager I was didn’t know better, it was the young adult’s responsibilty to leave aside her futile existential crisis and strive for a sucessful future. I should have sought help, I should have traded the novels for self-help books, I should have opened my eyes, be curious. Instead, I stayed in the dark, I left my demons consume me, I set the foundations of my life on random decisions. It is no surprise that the only milestone I seem to have reached to this day is hitting rock bottom. I’ve heard it’s an important one however, the very one that leads you in the direction of finding your true self and pushes you to unfold your true potential. I understand now that in order to move forward I must forgive myself and let go of past mistakes. I must use the maturity I now have and trust that I do have the ability to build a good life for myself.