By Hayes Spencer
Today, I woke up normal like any other day. My obnoxious, default, iPhone alarm tone that I haven’t changed in 8 years goes off and my eyes open. It takes me a few seconds to adjust. Who am I? Where am I? No mysterious men or women are sleeping next to me: check. I glance over at last night's wine glass to make sure it’s empty. There is half a sip left and I down it per usual, sure it's 6:15 am on a weekday, but it would be rude and wasteful not to finish it. A burst of sunshine runs through my mind as I pray that it’s Friday. Sadly, it’s only Tuesday. Couldn’t it at least be humpday?
This morning, I linger a little in bed pondering my life and the choices that led me to my current existence. I ask myself why I can’t t seem to get my life together. I feel like I was given a puzzle and half the pieces are missing. I know this is a common feeling for people in their 20’s and 30’s, but why? Because we are raised to believe that if we go to college and graduate, a marvelous life will be gifted to us. We are taught that we will have more money, experience, and connections if we graduate college, leading to a better future. While some of that may be true, I am not much different than someone who doesn’t possess a college degree. I wasn’t given this awesome life with an awesome job and awesome money. I still work at the same job I worked at before starting college, and I still live as frugally as I did in college. I woke up this morning realizing that I am 25 years old, with no future path paved in front of me. I guess a part of me is still waiting for someone to approach me with a Barbie Dream House life (Ken? Call me!) Maybe that is ok, to not know which path I am taking next, but the unknown is scary. The truth is that life is scary, and the harder you work, the more you will achieve. You have to pave that road yourself, but it won’t be easy.
The perfect analogy for my current life situations is that it’s like riding a rollercoaster. This one has been eventful, to say the least. Anytime a new year passes, it always leads to the starting line of change. It’s a great place to get back to the gym, promise yourself to start dieting and get to your goal weight, and overall become a happier person. I started off this year with the same ambitions, and most have stuck, excluding my weekend binge drinking and overeating to make up for the fact that I starve myself throughout the week.
Quickly after the New Year, I started off with a quick uphill jolt. My rollercoaster was moving, but was I ready? Are we ever ready? No. The hangover, which felt like it lasted decades, finally wore off and I was able to get all the confetti out of my hair. Feeling confident after the celebration, I felt my rollercoaster zooming through life with the wind in my hair and not a care in the world. I was strapped in and feeling secure about my goals, wants and needs. I quickly hit my first drop on the rollercoaster, but that was to be expected. The small “drop” is meant to prepare you for what is next to come. The rollercoaster took a dive and you could literally feel your stomach about to come out of your butt. You pull yourself together after the dip and the ride continues on an uphill swing. Everything seems fine and dandy until you see the MASSIVE UPSIDE-DOWN FLIP you are about to hit. You grab your seat belt just to make sure you are securely fastened . No amount of preparedness can help you in these types of situations. There’s a saying, "the higher you are, the longer you have to fall,” straight from Gossip Girl herself. And it's true - If the impact doesn't kill you, you almost wish it did. The ride stabilizes, and you feel a moment of calm. You think you are almost to the finish line, and suddenly your life is literally going up in flames. Good thing you kept that fire extinguisher handy!
You are coming to the home stretch of the ride and, suddenly, you hear the people in the front row scream for their lives. “Watch out for the flying vomit” someone shouts from ahead. You quickly brace for impact. Once again, you hit rock bottom. You start to cry, asking "Why, God? Why me??". As you are asking "why,” you quickly come up with a list of 30 things that karma is getting you back for. You start to acknowledge and apologize for them. Yes mother, I did leave a bag of dog shit in the back of your car last time I saw you. And yes, maybe I did purposely sabotage my prom dates dress back in high school because I didn’t want her to outshine me. And yes, I always ignore the one legged homeless man that sits outside of Starbucks begging for change. Maybe if I didn’t spend all my money on alcohol and Taco Bell, I would be able to give him something. And yes, sometimes I write "Not at this Address" on mail when I don't want to pay it. No wonder the universe hates me. Sometimes the best thing to do is sit back and pour yourself another glass of wine.
After the terrifying upside down flip, you have a short grace period. This is usually to catch your breath, or I don't know, spend all of 8 minutes finally removing all the 6th grade Nickelback songs that are still on your iTunes playlist. The last thing to prepare yourself for is that awful rollercoaster photo that will surely ruin your life and disgrace your family. The ride finally has you in a stable, upright position. You are pulled up to the station; You let out your first breath in minutes, and try to remove the seat belt but it isn’t budging. You soon realize you have been on a circular roller coaster this whole time, and the ride will start over shortly.
If life taught me anything, it's that the ride will continue, and life moves on whether you are ready or not. Yes, your age of innocence is over and you have to decide whether or not to sink or swim. And yes, it isn’t always clear what the right or wrong path is. But you keep moving; ride that rollercoaster with confidence and class. Remember to always adjust your hair, tighten your seat belt and expect the unexpected. A friend once said, “think of life as more of a race. You’re in control of yourself in a race, just not the track”. Sit back and prepare for take off!
I end this with a quote; “Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.” - Anonymous.