Do you mark your growth in external ways? By that I mean, do you think about your personal progress in benchmarks related to money, living situations, relationships, etc.? I certainly do – or, I did, until I realized what I was doing. Since I realized I was marking my life in somewhat superficial ways, I’ve tried to be more gentle with myself.
The thing is – as I started my post-college life, I naturally assumed that I would go from having a small, cramped apartment that I shared with roommates in my 20s to a bigger, spacious one-bedroom apartment by myself in my 30s. I didn’t think there would be big lows along the way. I also assumed the tags on my clothing would progress from H&M and Forever 21 to Banana Republic and Club Monaco.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I’m in the difficult position of trying to find a new place to live. It’s challenging since I’m a full-time graduate student and I don’t have a steady income, which makes landlords understandably nervous. I’m very lucky because I have a family member who has kindly offered to co-sign my lease, but still.
When I think about the fact that I’m 33, struggling to find the money to live by myself, that I need a co-signer to get an apartment, and that I basically get all my wardrobe from the Gap – it bums me out. It makes me think I am somewhat stagnant or sliding backwards, unable to gain the traction needed to ‘really launch me into my 30s.’ But it’s been bumming me out less and less. Because I realized that…
I did grow in ways that cannot be measured – in bravery for taking a leap of faith that perhaps I could make screenwriting and TV writing into a career, by uprooting my life and moving to a city where I knew few people, and by trusting my gut more and needing less input from outside forces to make decisions. These are huge steps in my internal growth. So while yes, I may soon be living in a cramped, tiny apartment eating frozen pizzas while watching Netflix on my laptop (just like I was in my 20s), I will take solace in the fact that I am a kinder, smarter, wiser Jane than I was back then.