I’ve been going through old childhood stuff, mostly pictures, because my parents are moving to North Carolina; it’s reminded me of all this “Baby’s First” stuff. Baby’s first steps, first word, first trip to the beach, first tooth, first lost tooth, first laugh; it goes all the up to first day of school. Then it dies out. But life is full of “Firsts” that will define us to our very core. Baby’s first true friends. Baby’s first heartbreak. Baby’s first passion. Baby’s first apartment. Baby’s first job.
In just a couple months I’ll be 24, which I terrifyingly consider your official mid-twenties, and this month marks a year and a half at my current and first “real” job. I’ve also been living in my first “real” apartment for a month. It’s my first time having to change my address at the RMV, first time having to buy an ironing board, a plethora of various cleaning supplies, and I’ll probably need some hand tools. I’m starting to cut coupons and explore IKEA and Target for home decorations and furnishings and dish sets and cookware. I’m a “real” person. I’ve posted about it before, but it’s finally starting to REALLY hit me, thanks to some homework I have to do before I travel to Philadelphia for job training. That’s right. I travel the country for training. And travel New England for conferences. And I network with fancy suit guys in fancy corner offices with fancy job titles. Some real “first” experiences.
In this homework I’m doing there’s a career ambition section. It’s actually quite important to me right now, since I’ve always felt that college was meant as the time in your life where you honed in on your ambition and learned what you needed to do before graduating and hitting the ground running. But I majored in Art History so…. that’s rarely the case there. I thought I wasted college for a while. I loved it, don’t get me wrong, but I never tracked down a solid career idea. I didn’t join many extracurricular activities. I spent my time immersed fully in either my schoolwork, because I was IN LOVE with what I was studying, or hanging out with my friends, exploring my surroundings, and goofing off together and laughing together and crying together. But I didn’t find a career. T
his training spoke not only about how ambitions and career paths change over time, but they involve a lot of firsts. They involve a lot of self-evaluation. They involve looking back at your passions. And this was my first “OHHHHH!!!!!” moment (I hate saying “Ah-ha!” cause who actually says that?!). This my first “real” epiphany: Often, it’s what we did IN college and what we enjoyed IN college that guides us to what we really, truly want to do in life. It’s not always what we think we want to do before hand and therefore go to college for; it’s what we experience and discover while we’re there.
It’s not that I didn’t go all out in college, because I lacked ambition and insight. In fact, I would say I DID go all out. I did so in that I put everything I had into expanding my heart, my mind, my intellect, my enjoyment of the current moment, my closest relationships. True, I stressed about the future, which sometimes took away from that, but I’m realizing now that it was no more than is expected. I was afraid that I wouldn’t have a place in this life, because I didn’t have a plan and I couldn’t see myself with one. But this is Baby’s First Plan: Enjoy the ride. Take charge of my life. Take charge of my ambitions, which will sometimes mean just sitting back and fully taking in the experience of where I’m going and what I’m doing.
In a way, college is not a series of “firsts.” College is an experience all in its own category. We enter with an idea of who we are and exit a completely new version of ourselves, not necessarily *changed*, but fine-tuned. Life will follow with countless “Baby’s Firsts” and we will constantly need to look back at that oh so important time of our lives where we discovered what we enjoyed, loved, disliked, loathed, were interested in, and bored us. That’s where our ambitions will stem from.
At first I was disappointed because my job has very little to do with what I went to college for. I see some of my classmates on Facebook posting about all these awesome art and history related things they’re doing and I’m sometimes envious that I didn’t pursue something like that harder. But I’m realizing that while I truly love art and what I studied, it wasn’t necessarily my main passion in life, and in this job, I get to follow it much more than if I were to work in a gallery or museum or for an art magazine.
I love art. I love music. I love literature. I love history. I love nature. I love comedy. I love helping people. I love teaching people. I love building relationships with people. I love traveling. I love learning.
So all my firsts have led me to a moment of truth: I’m right where I need to be.