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August 31, 2013

My Quarter Life Enlightenment. ~ Melissa Petty

Just over half way through my 20s and I have learned that I know nothing.

I’m not even being self-depricating or hokey. I have realized that I really and earnestly know nothing. But, I think that is the first step to knowing something—you must admit that you know nothing.

I am 26, and I don’t know a damn thing.

And you know what? It’s pretty awesome. Because now that I have eliminated the idea of fixed points in time and space, anything is possible. I believe that I have a good life. But, someone else may look at it and think that I am somehow “failing.” If you had asked me a year ago, I probably would have said something to that effect myself.

We end up judging our success based on a prescribed set of goals: get a “good” job, buy a house, fall in love, have babies. So, at a certain point if you realize that maybe that’ s not the trajectory that your life has taken it’s only natural to feel like you’ve somehow fallen short. But you wouldn’t compare the flight pattern of an arrow and a cannonball, so how can you begin to compare people?

I’ve realized that the expectation for mapping one’s journey has more to do with fear than ambition. Not knowing what awaits you around the next bend terrifies most people. They crave the security. The well-trodden path seems relatively safe.

When I finally looked at the things that I felt I was lacking, the stuff that made me feel less-than, I laughed. Mostly because, I’m not sure that I want any of it. I won’t say that I don’t want it, because I don’t know that I definitively don’t—I just don’t right now.

And that’s the beauty of realizing you don’t know anything. It gives you the freedom to change your direction at will. You are able to embrace endless routes because you aren’t buckled into a a ride that you are a passenger on, following directions that you didn’t write, to a place that you didn’t choose.

I relish in the unknown, it excites me, it makes me feel alive.

Sure, I have responsibilities. But, they are ones that I chose, and continue to choose everyday. If something that I am doing stops serving me, I weigh my options and make a choice. And I don’t know what the outcome will be… but I understand that it’s OK. We learn more from our “failures” than our successes.

At 18, I had decided that I wanted to be a journalist. It was what I knew I wanted to do. However, after two years of writing (read: suffering) for my college newspaper, I knew that I did not want to be a journalist. I had retired from the writing game. I got my degree, started working for Starbucks, began my “career” teaching yoga, and somehow found myself back to where I started.

Today, I want to be a journalist… but, my kind of journalist. It took me giving the middle finger to “the path” and cutting my way through a convoluted maze of dead-ends, double backs, round-abouts and wrong turns to find my way back to my first love.

Which may seem to many like a waste of time.

But it is because of all of the stops I’ve made along the way I have an understanding that if I wake up tomorrow not wanting to be a journalist any more, that there are endless other things that I have the potential to do and be.

I don’t know anything. I have vague ideas and inclinations… but nothing is certain, and that’s kind of cool.

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Assist. Ed: Jade Belzberg/Ed: Sara Crolick

 

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Melissa Petty