The New Normal

If you had told me four years ago–even six months ago–that after obtaining my BA, I would move to the small town of my alma mater, where I would run a non-profit and work at a gym, I would have laughed hard enough to bring tears to my eyes. But that is exactly what has happened.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Two months ago, I was a freshly diploma-ed  freelance writer who was living with her parents. It was a comfortable in-between, but it wasn’t somewhere to be permanently. While I love my parents, my temperament is different from theirs, which makes for uncomfortable living arrangements, especially since they were both retired and I worked from home. Also, all of my high school friends had moved away, had gone to college or gotten married or some such, so I was rather alone. I made friends with ladies at church (great friends), but they all have children my age, and so it wasn’t the same as friendships with my peers.

So when I received a phone call from my freshman roommate informing me that she had heard of a job opening in the town of our university. The program director of the local literacy council was retiring and sought a replacement. I then discovered that another friend had an acquaintance who was hiring at the gym she owned. A few weeks of unbearable tension later, I was moving into a one-bedroom apartment and starting two jobs.

It’s been a crazy two months, but I’m learning to adapt. My schedule means that I don’t have much free time in the evenings, so any errands have to be run in the morning before work. Being the program director of a literacy council is definitely something that has required adjustment:  I have more responsibility than I’ve ever had before, and much is expected of me. At the gym, I am studying for my certification to become a fitness instructor. If you knew me as a teenager, that is quite laughable–I skipped P.E. throughout much of junior high, and haven’t attempted a sport since elementary school.

There are good changes, too. I live in a town where I know several people, so I have the opportunity to be social (although almost all of those people are married, so I am a perpetual gooseberry). Having time away from my parents has improved our relationship immensely. Having full-time employment is invigorating, if at times exhausting (a paradox, I know, but it’s true).

In short, the past two months have been terrifying, but I finally feel that I am beginning to be an adult–or at least that I am beginning to pretend.

Climbing out of Limbo

Over the past few months, I have been slacking. Not just on my blog (though you may have noticed a lack of recent posts), but life in general.

While in college, I was doing well:  I worked out three times a week, ate four to five meals a day, wrote, read whenever I had time away from studying. My GPA my last semester at HU was 4.0, I helped three student organizations run, and I walked a dog during my lunch break.  I did all of those things and still had a strong social life that was filled with people of all different majors, even people outside the state. My day had a strict schedule, and I stuck to it. I got things done. I was awesome.

What happened?

Now I’m lucky if I work out once a week, I eat perhaps two meals a day, write only for work, read maybe every other day, never study foreign languages, and my social life is minimal (though I still Skype my out-of-state friends). I don’t set my alarm clock, and have trouble getting up in the mornings, even when I go to sleep early. My planner buried itself under a pile of papers; it’s not like I used it. The most I do for myself is attend personal development seminars once a month, and smaller business plans (for the same program) once a week. This isn’t enough.

The problem is lack of structure. Because I don’t have a schedule that revolves around other people (classes, clubs, etc.), I haven’t scheduled out my day like I used to do, and the result is that I never get anything accomplished.

Today, I resolve to change that. If I want to be successful in any aspect of my life, I need to change my habits. I need to be internally motivated rather than using the external motivation that I have always used. Starting today, my days will be strictly scheduled. I will wake up at 7:00 a.m. and work out six days a week. I will eat at least three meals a day. I will write five hundred words a day that is not for work. I will write at least two blog posts a week. I will maintain my business’ website as well as the websites I maintain for work. I will practice my French twice a week, and I will study German three days a week. I will read a personal development book for half an hour every day, my Bible for half an hour every day, and a novel or short story anthology for half an hour every day. I will listen to four educational podcasts or CDs a day (which I can do when I get dressed in the mornings and while I eat meals). I will make more local friends (most of my friends are long-distance).

To keep this list of promises to myself, I will spend every Saturday night planning out my week, and half an hour every evening planning the next day. To keep myself accountable, I will write a blog post every weekend to document my progress (if I am out of town, it may be posted on Monday, but only if I am out of town).

Post-Grad and Goals for the New Year

I have officially completed the requirements and received my bachelor’s degree of English (Okay, full disclosure: I received my degree a month ago, and just never got around to writing about it until now). My college career is over, and now I can do whatever I want. I can start my life over and be whomever I want. That opens up several possibilities, and gives me so much freedom. I can stay in the States, I can travel abroad for a few years, I can move to Europe (or wherever else I deem appropriate). I can go into event coordinating, publishing, teaching ESL (if I get certification), or whatever else I decide to do. It is, however, also terrifying. In the next year, I will be creating myself. What if I make someone that I don’t like? What if I get stuck in a place or career that I can’t stand, but can’t seem to leave? What if I can never find a good job (no one has offered to hire me yet)? What if I’m too afraid to take any chances? I’ve never been known for my bravery (though, if I’m re-creating myself, perhaps someday I can be).

Let’s examine the options. Continue reading