Tag Archives: success

On two years

If two years ago you had asked me, “What will you be doing two years from now?” I would have told you, “That’s the dumbest question I’ve ever heard.”

Between the barren job landscape and my terrified, just-graduated self, I would’ve had an easier time telling you the 2041 Oscar winner for Best Picture (my money is on a biopic about the guy who invented the Cinnabon).

If two years ago you had, instead, told me that two years from now I’d still be operating Embracing Ambiguity…I probably wouldn’t have believed you. And not because I don’t think that the blog is worthwhile, or founded on a solid idea, but because, well…who doesn’t have a blog?! Prior to starting #EmbAmb, I myself had started two different blogs, which, cumulatively, lasted for three weeks.

So, I didn’t expect much. But the idea caught hold and some others jumped on board, and the little blog that might just kept on coulding. And here we are, 2 years, 11 authors, 68 posts, 98 followers, 1 Facebook page and a whole lot of uncertainty later.

It has been a pretty wild ride, and I’ve been honoured to share this outlet with a number of good friends, and to have it read and followed by a whole host of others.

I think that the blog’s success owes to the fact that we’re all just little fish, floating along in the large and often terrifying sea of young adulthood. Whether you’re a writer, a vocal supporter or a casual lurker of the content that has filled these digital pages over the last 730 days, I think the one thing that everyone walks away with is a shared sense of “huh…so I’m not alone in all this.” And I think that’s key.

I have valued this outlet and this experience more than words can describe, and so I won’t bother trying. Instead, I’ll let the blog keep doing its thing, and keep on coulding. Hopefully it will for years to come. #sixseasonsandamovie

To celebrate our two year anniversary, the EmbAmb writers have decided to write a series of posts about the idea of adulthood, and what it means to them.

This is something I have addressed a fair bit recently. In thinking about the idea for this specific series, I’ve had some additional thoughts that I have chronicled below.

For two-years-ago me – freshly graduated and trying desperately to figure out just what it was I was doing with this thing we call life – adulthood was the panacea to all life’s problems. It was the thing at the end of the terrifying rainbow of young adulthood. It was the thing I was chasing. I was Indiana Jones and it was my Ark of the Covenant. It was…well, you get it.

I didn’t know what I was doing or where I was going or how I’d know when I had gotten there, but I could take comfort in knowing that somewhere out there, was adulthood. And I’d eventually have it. And it would be great.

I couldn’t really define it, I just knew it would come when the pictures on my walls acquired frames, when I had a permanent alcohol collection, and dental. And when I could drop $14 on a cocktail without thinking. You know, all the classic signs that you’ve made it.

In a lot of ways, adulthood was like this blog– a coping mechanism. It was a promise of certainty that I could look to, in a world that seemed to offer anything but.

Over the last two years I’ve realized that adulthood doesn’t exist. At least, not in any tangible, quantifiable sense. Because I may not have a liquor collection, or dental, but yesterday I filed my taxes and made a fancy ass breakfast that was not Sugar Crisp and I’d defy you to try and tell me I’m not an adult just because I also spent a couple hours curled up in a ball of anxiety, and ate a bowl of popcorn for lunch.

And I still don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going or how I’ll know when I’ve gotten there, but it also doesn’t matter. That’s not to say that I don’t have days with stress or anxiety over money or work or whatever – I do – but I don’t think that I have nearly the same anxiety ridden preoccupation with checking off a bunch of theoretical boxes on the “ARE YOU AN ADULT” checklist.

What I’m saying is, if the concept of adulthood is a coping mechanism, then like all coping mechanisms, you lean on it when you need it, and forget about it when you don’t.

Two years ago I was in a world where my every move was more or less planned out for me, where my worth was determined by my ability to regurgitate information on command, and where the mysterious force known as OSAP made sure I didn’t have to worry about how I’d make rent or fill the fridge while trying to stay afloat of essays and readings. After a sudden and violent transition, I found myself in a world where I faced $40,000 in debt, where my next step was wholly and completely up to me, and where no one no longer gave a flying fuck about why Napoleon’s invasion of Russia didn’t succeed.

I was a tiny fish floating in a large and terrifying ocean and so grabbed hold of the one thing that I thought would carry me to safety – this idea that one day, it would all be ok. One day, I’d be an adult.

Two years later, the ocean is still large and terrifying, but I’m no longer a tiny fish. I’m a badass mother fuckin’ octopus, and I can hold my own. So screw adulthood. $14 cocktails are for suckers, anyway.

Until next time.

Ambiguously yours,

-t

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On people

EDITORS NOTE: This blog post is the third in a series, intended to celebrate Embracing Ambiguity reaching the 50 post milestone. If you haven’t already, you should definitely scroll down to see the first post by Jeff. Embracing Ambiguity recently received an email response to a post that asked a lot of great and challenging questions. In celebration of Embracing Ambiguity’s milestone, various authors will be responding to these questions over the next week. In general, the theme is (roughly) “making the decisions that will IMPACT EVERYTHING”, and  “the narratives we tell ourselves about what we’re doing, why and how we feel about it”. It is left to each author to choose how closely they reference / stick to these original prompts. We’re excited to see what they come up with. If you like what you read, share it on Facebook and Twitter and help #EmbAmb increase it’s reach. Happy reading.

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This story takes place in many places.

It takes place on the streets of Brooklyn, as I am sprinting down a sidewalk I’d never before been. It takes place in a back alley, as I frantically try to clean. It takes place on the bar stool, as disco lights and billiard balls flash behind me. It takes place on the perfect blue chair, as I sit, listening to a story.

It takes place on the third floor of my office building, as I sip wine to a slow realization.

But due to the usefulness of following some form of chronological order I shall start with the chair.

I’m at home, a few weeks out. I swivel slowly on a chair left here by my sister. It’s blue, feels a little like corduroy, and is possibly the most comfortable thing you’ll ever sit on. I’m listening to a few friends tell stories we had written, and I am suddenly hit with a feeling that I can’t quite place.

I’m on the third floor of the building, in meeting room three. It’s still a mess, shirts scattered, paper still stuck to the desks, large now empty cardboard boxes sit to the side of the room. My plan was always to do this, and really, it was for the most part working. But I hadn’t truly anticipated the scope, and there were holes. I’d already patched a few thanks to the help of enterprising participants watching the doors and guiding people, but the biggest was out on the cement of the back alley. I trapped someone in the room with the promise I’d return and near sprinted to find that my anxiety was for nothing. They had done everything already, I could return to the mess. That night, as I sat sleeplessly staring out the bus window, I came back to the feeling I’d had on the chair.

I’m on the twelfth floor of a commercial complex in Koreatown, Manhattan. I sip my just larger than a shot glass of apple-sour soju. The laser based lighting system, and thumping pop music colour what would otherwise be a relatively expensive billiards club. I’m with four friends, three of whom I’ve been friends with for over six years and none of whom I’ve seen five times this year. But that doesn’t matter.

I’m on Felton Avenue, Brooklyn, demanding if my phone can see someone who’s running like a fucking maniac. Shortly before this moment, I had sworn at him. Shortly before that I had took off, away from the buses that had now become the ticking clock to something I just didn’t want to believe I would have to deal with. He could have been stubborn, he could have taken offense to my tone, but when he heard the panic in my voice when I told my phone that it needed to run, he ran. As we sit side by side in silence, the rain pattering against the bus windows, I think of how rare this relationship is.

I’m on an old zebra pattern chair in an office well above my pay grade. I pick the wine off the carpet to poor myself a second glass of the cheapest red the closest store sells. I’ve come here for practice after a day of working from home. I had arrived unsettled but as conversation flowed I sat back, and thought of advice a friend had once relayed to me: “Find the things in that make the world make sense”.

And I found myself, disagreeing.

For me at least, there was nothing I could do that would make the world make sense.

Rather, I had found the people that made the world make sense. If I had accomplished nothing else, I had done this, and I realized then and there, that I think this would be enough. I would never be making a choice that would impact everything. I could never have a failure too great. I could never be so wrong that I couldn’t be right again.

During the march, between the laser billiards and Brooklyn sprints, there were four men in costume and a sign.

“Butterflies against the end of the world”.

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on black holes and “success”

If you were to look at my resume, and look at my trajectory from high school through university to now, I did it “right”. I did what everyone tells you to do about school to get a job.

I volunteered. A lot. I did a degree that was equal parts job applicable and artsy. I had summer jobs that were fun, terrible, and sector relevant. I got an internship at an NGO when I graduated, and three months in got offered a full time job.

The thing about university is that its a huge fucking black hole. You have no idea where you are, or who you are, or whats going on. Some days it might be all blue skies and answers (hooray for A’s on papers!), and then next you’re wallowing in a bottle of wine wondering if development should even be allowed. But the great secret to university is that this, the black hole, is expected.

I remember the first time I was told that we, as political science students, must “speak truth to power” and how that blew my mind. I remember a lecture given by a woman who was part of a polyamorous group and how it completely opened my eyes to a world I didn’t know existed. I remember hearing Jane Doe speak and asking why men weren’t told not to rape, instead of telling women not to walk alone at night, and how that both enraged and empowered me. These were moments of pure learning – I was hearing things for the first time that changed how I viewed and interacted with my world and despite that world being confusing and frustrating, I kept being told that it was expected.

I left university thinking that I knew a lot, and because I was following the pre-determined success plot line so carefully, I felt confident in my ability to join the workforce as a “real person”. Finding the internship I did was mainly luck. I interviewed well, but had friends working at the organization who could vouch for me being competent. Getting offered a full time job was the result of working 60+ hours a week for 3 months, and a need to fill a couple of roles fairly quickly.

When I started as full time staff in September I was so excited to have found something that aligned with my values, something that challenged me, and all in an environment that was supportive and community oriented. All of this continues to be true, and wonderful, and what makes coming to work every day so beautiful.

However, it turns out working for an NGO is a fucking black hole too, but no one talks about it. That narrative that leads to success? It stops at “got a job!”, and then starts up again with “get a boyfriend, get engaged, have babies!” etc, (which is a conversation for another time). I didn’t do all of the learning I needed in university, and was blindsided by the every day challenges of being a “real person” with a job.

I have no idea how to resolve conflict with a coworker. I don’t know how to balance paying a huge student loan, with rent, with a work lifestyle that dictates I eat out 5 nights a week. I don’t know what I’m even suppose to know to do my job well. A lot of this has to do with my own naiveté, and believe me I ask myself everyday how I could have been so silly.

OF COURSE IT DOESN’T GET EASIER. It just continues to be hard, but in a different way.

So to cope, I’ve started redefining my own success. Last night I had a PB&J with barbeque chips for dinner and watched the first episode of Glee. I felt like I was 8 and it was awesome. I’ve started buying books to teach myself the things I think I need to know – the most recent one of which is on “emotional intelligence” (who knew that was a thing?!). I make playlists by month to chronicle my emotions through song.

And now, I write blog posts about having no fucking clue what I’m doing with my life, and I’m being ok with it.

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