The other night I was sitting at a bar and the song “Changes” came on. The bartender, who was otherwise working silently, yelled out “CHCHCHCHANGES!” At the top of his lungs along with the chorus. It was weird and also I didn’t know people did that in real life (at least after 1975).
That’s really neither here nor there, except that whenever I talk about changing gears in life I think about this song because, whatever. You get it.
So yeah – changing gears. In a couple weeks I’m going back to school for web development. I am super excited about it and also constantly super nervous to tell people about my future plans. Telling people that you are making a big change in your life seems to invoke some sort of unsolicited-advice-giving beast within all of us, wherein they more often than not begin dissecting your choice and question the rationale and potential outcomes.
You hope their reaction will be something like –
And instead, 95% of the time it is something like –
And that’s why you don’t talk to strangers in line at the Starbucks…
JK. I wish it was strangers. The fact of the matter is that it is often well-intentioned acquaintances, coworkers, long lost friends, rando family members and all of the other people who you don’t want to bore with the details of all the years of trying to figure out who you are and/or how you are going to pay for your existence without fantasizing about throwing yourself onto subway tracks every Monday, Tuesday and — if it’s a really bad week — Wednesday through Friday. Ok, that’s a little dramatic. But I have fantasized about moving to Long Island City and I think that’s basically the same thing.
The worst reaction that I have received, however, is not adamant disapproval or slight, questioning jabs at my intelligence or competency. It’s one simple phrase-
“Hmm. Well you’re all over the place, aren’t you?”
Usually said in jest, I don’t think anyone who’s ever said this to me has given it more than two milliseconds of thought, but oh man, is it the worst. Telling someone they’re all over the place — whether it be referring to a college Junior who’s changed his major a bunch of times or a person who’s moved more times than they can count on one hand over the course of their 20s — undermines their act of searching for whatever it is they’re searching for. It calls to the forefront all of the chances someone has taken in his/her life and recognizes them as past failures. Personally, it has made me feel like I’m perceived as disorganized, lazy, weak, crazy, fearful or uncommitted.
I usually start backpedaling, justifying shit or simply caving in on myself like a dying star… insecurity-filled phrases bursting through my mouth like explosive gases in a deep dark space where for some inexplicable reason, no one ever interrupts me to make it stop. [In space no one can hear you make an ass of yourself]. I think of “Mean Girls'” word vomit as I hear myself trying to go through my life expectations versus reality and then I throw in some weird business terms I learned. Sometimes I reference a new hobby. It usually ends in “BUT IT’S OKMARGIN, I’M I RECENTLY TOOK UP POTTERY AND FIND IT FULFILLING OKBUTI’MOKIT’SRETURNONINVESTMENTFORTHEBESTANYWAY.”
It’s embarrassing. Caring that much about stupid, tiny things people think or say is a character flaw of mine. At this point I anticipate my reaction to other people’s reactions more than I even think of what I’m going to tell that brings about the initial reaction.
SO I MADE SOME PICTURES FOR YOU. TO AVOID THE WORD VOMIT.
Like most 18 year olds, I was totally positive that I knew my life plan. And, like most humans, my life did not go according to that obviously flawed and delusional plan. At 22, when I started to realize that I wasn’t going to be the real life version of Rachel Berry on Glee (luckily that show wasn’t on when I was in college because it would have further fueled my dementia), I realized I didn’t have a backup plan. As it turned out, my father, in particular, was right about the whole ‘having a backup plan is good’ thing. Damnit parents, I hate when you’re right.
Expectation: EVERYTHING YOU WANT WILL HAPPEN BECAUSE YOU’RE A GOOD PERSON AND THE WORLD IS YOUR MOTHERF*&KING OYSTER.
Reality: YOU ARE JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, YOU IDIOT. REAL LIFE IS CONFUSING AND WEIRD AND OFTEN BORING.
BUT IT’S OKI’MOKNOREALLYI PROMISEALLOFITIS OK.
No really, I’m not word vomiting now- it has been more than OK. My real life experience has been so much better than what 18 year old Tiffany wanted for herself because in between all the disappointments above I ended up in a bunch of different cities, getting to experience life as a bunch of different versions of myself, and through some serendipitous shit ended up in the city I hoped to end up in surrounded by most of my favorite people ever (Hibben and family, you are too far).
Of course, maybe I wouldn’t be saying that if I was so famous that all if took to get the whole world talking about me was rubbing my butt on Robin Thicke, but I think I’m good.
I’m going to get preachy for like two seconds. I’m sorry, it will be quick: This is why I hate the phrase, “All over the place.” The process of getting to figure out very slowly, and often uncomfortably, who you are is a freaking luxury. Getting to sit around and drink wine and be like, “Gee, I wonder what will make me feel fulfilled and ALSO let me buy shoes on the regular?” is an awesome problem to have. It’s why I’m determined to see all this thing all the way through, and if that means I will one day run out of naiveté-fueled energy and accept that fact that life is a meaningless, never-ending cycle of working for the weekend I will at the very least have less reason to wonder what could have been.
Ok, preaching over you can start listening again. I’ve got more posts coming up on this topic, so come back soon y’all.
Peace, love and CH-CH-CH-CHANGESSSSSS,