Today is my 20th birthday. I celebrate this day with such names as Dr. Seuss and John Irving. Jon Bon Jovi, as well, but I’m more concerned with the writers. I don’t feel very different, not older or wiser or more like an adult. But I feel much as I have over the past few months, like I need to push forward with more fervor than I have as of late. Somewhere along the line, I lost something– my mojo, my verve, my spirit, my confidence. Whatever it was, I need to get it back. Feeling stuck isn’t for me.

Maybe I lost it my senior year of high school, when I was at the top of all the organizations I cared about, but everyone else stopped caring so I was essentially useless. Sitting in AP classes where no one wanted to act like honors students was insulting. Conducting musical ensembles where I was told flat out that I wasn’t respected was painful. Striving to maintain a tradition of high standards was exhausting and almost in vain because I was among only a handful to want to do it. Insult and injury were only intensified when my efforts were overlooked and went unrewarded– not that I did it for the recognition, I did it because I cared, but a bit of reward in the form of scholarships or just a senior spotlight in the yearbook would have been nice.

I didn’t just give up, though I did slow down a bit after that. Things weren’t quite as up to par as they had been throughout my years in Bedford. College was a transition that was difficult to make after a year of, “Well, no one else tried at all, so you only have to try a little bit to do better.” That wasn’t good. So I struggled to get back into a high-achiever state of mind. I’m finally getting it back, but not without even more difficulty pushing me back further.
Leaving the bowling alley this past August, a job that I knew well and had really come to love, struck a blow that’s left quite a mark. I know that job didn’t slip away from me because I was a terrible employee. There were entirely different reasons. But somehow, it still makes me feel like I don’t know how to do anything any more. I feel inadequate at the two near-mindless jobs I work on campus. Making smoothies for four hours a week and calling alumni for donations eleven hours a week is nothing compared to managing the desk at a small bowling center, where the desk person is also a custodian and a mechanic and an event host and a food server and a master of ceremonies and the person to take care of whatever else needs to be done that they’re capable of. Maybe I just like the challenge of multitasking. I did juggle a lot in high school that I’m not now– work and school as well as marching band and drama and National Honor Society and the literary magazine and and choir and even a social life. Now, I go to classes, and I go to work. That’s about it. So maybe I need to start doing everything again.

A combination of factors has also got me more and more concerned about money. Student loans, trying to save up for a car, and breaking even after monthly bills is nerve-wracking. And it leaves little room to put away money for something bigger, like an apartment after graduation. Knowing also, particularly after having to give a ten minute speech on it, that my intended career choice as a writer is not going to turn me into a millionaire overnight makes me even more anxious to find a good paying job in order to supplement whatever income I might get as a writer and make up for months where writing work just isn’t there.

I think on this day, the 20th anniversary of my birth, I really need to start over. I need to find a job that I love, where I can work a few more hours and get paid a little more. I need to get back in touch with my passions– start playing the trumpet and singing again, find a way to get back on stage, and really focus on my writing. I need to start knocking the academics out of the park again. I need to find something to fill my down time, because I have way to much of it, and I’m not used to that. I’m used to constantly going, constantly being engaged. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Happy birthday to me.

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