Love the Girl Who Holds the World in a Paper Cup
Drink it up.
You know, I really don’t know much of anything.
What I do know is that sometimes I feel so lost, so clumsy, stumbling around like some idiot in the dark when the light switch is right in front of my face and there are so many paths I could take and there’s no one standing around with a map or directions telling me, Here – take this road. And then I just get overwhelmed with indecision and sit in the middle of the intersection to pout until I get run over by an 18-wheeler.
But does anyone ever not feel that way? (If you don’t, please don’t tell me.)
What I do know is that I probably shouldn’t attempt to write blog posts at two in the morning when I’m a) buzzing from a busy night of waiting tables, b) tipsy from a glass of Jack and coke, c) drunk off of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and cold, cold milk (thanks to a very special person whose underwear I happen to clean), or d) all of the above.
What I do know is that many of my days currently revolve around food. Whether I’m planning it, cooking it, serving it, or eating it, I’m starting to feel like food is consuming my life. And really – shouldn’t it be the other way around?
(Don’t worry. I’m not sure what that means, either.)
What I do know is I have two of the cutest dogs that have ever walked the face of this planet and they’re so, so lucky because if they weren’t, I might have had a harder time getting over the fact that they destroyed my calla lilies today.
What I do know is that a girl at the bar totally made my night tonight when she walked up to me, slipped me a $20, and said, I’ve been a waitress before. I know how it is. You’ve been awesome. I know my boyfriend’s a handful.
Her words made me feel really great.
And also a little slutty.
What I do know is that I can’t keep trying to measure my accomplishments (or lack thereof) against other people my age. Because, the thing is, who am I to put a weight on accomplishments? Education, income, career, lifestyle… they might all affect how “accomplished” an individual feels, but happiness – in my humble little opinion – is the only true measure of success.
And I’m talking about genuine happiness. Not just the face you put on at the class reunion.
What I do know is that Catherine is a “blog friend” over on Simply Solo. Her father, who must be the wisest man on the planet, expelled to her these words of wisdom while she was in the throes of a quarter life crisis: “We’re all lost, Catherine. Don’t you think I’m lost? I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”
What I do know is that I don’t know what I’m doing. Not in the slightest.
But then, if it’s true that most of us really are lost, then neither do you.
And that makes me feel just a little bit better.
*Title from Danny’s Song, by Kenny Loggins.
I had my quarter life crisis before I met my wife. It was a dark time full of whining, brooding, massive quantities of marijuana, and booze…I cried a lot and felt sorry for myself. I owe a lot of that to my ex girlfriend, and a lot of that to me. Things changed when I met Meg. True Katie, I have NO idea what I’m doing right now other than loading the trucks and hoping for a fruitful retirement and planning for kids. I wish you solace as you find your way through this dark time.
Thanks, Matty. It’s always comforting to see someone who, in the words of Red (from The Shawshank Redemption), “crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.” It’s really not as bad as I’m making it sound. It’s just… overwhelming, you know?
It’s true – we’re all just fumbling around in the dark. Even the one’s who look like they’ve got it all together. One of my son’s coaches gave me the name Supermom, and it stuck. I used the name as a lark when I joined a discussion forum, and then it didn’t make sense to change the name.
On any given day I’m that mom that’s dressed impeccably and delivering cupcakes with handpiped candy butterflies on top, but they don’t see the girl who doesn’t change out of her pjs until she has to leave the house, which means all day pjs somedays. What they see: the perfect spread of from scratch foods on the buffet all served at the right temperature. What they don’t see: the girl screaming, “Get out of my kitchen, just eat some dry cereal!” What they see: the supportive mom, cheering away at every practice and game. What they don’t see: the chick who sometimes fantasizes about being child-free, and out at the clubs.
There is no finish line. If you don’t have doubts about where you are, then there’s no reason to ever move forward.
Oh, and if you were to ask me (a random stranger) who I thought you were. I’d say, “An amazing writer with an innate writing style that grabs her readers.” No floundering there.
Wow. I think this is one of the nicest and most heartfelt comments ever. And these are such wise words: “If you don’t have doubts about where you are, then there’s no reason to ever move forward.” Thank you so much for responding so honestly. And, I have to say – thank god you beautiful women who always look like you have it together are sometimes just faking it. ;) The “Get out of my kitchen” comment cracked me up!
If your response is what I’d always get when I ask random strangers who they think I am, I think I would ask random strangers exclusively from now on. Besides, we’re not totally random strangers anymore, since we put our lives – flaws and all – out there for the world to see. I love the internet! :)
I think you are right that everyone feels that way, at least sometimes. What I don’t think you realize is how lucky your generation is. The difference between you and your generation, and me and mine, is you are delving into these thoughts. You thought about what you wanted out of life and have done much of it. You have traveled to Europe, to South America. You have traveled the US, attended 2 colleges. You’ve been to Hawaii – how many times? You went skydiving! And you are still thinking about your future.
My generation just went with the flow, what happened, happened. And for women, that usually meant getting married and having babies right away. I didn’t work or go to school until after my divorce (first divorce). I’d barely been out of my home state. I didn’t get on a plane until I was 26, and then it was to fly from Green Bay to Minneapolis for a job interview. I had to support myself and a child, and did what I had to.
This wasn’t true for everyone, but for a lower middle-class family like mine, there weren’t many options.
I think you are lucky, and I envy you in many ways. At the same time, I am so very happy for you. You are still so very young and have done more in your short lifetime than I have in more than double years. Be happy that you have all these choices and that you can choose. And you can take your time to decide.
I agree with you in some respects, but I have to say, a lot of this sounds like excuses. Unless you’re physically enslaved, people (even women) always have the choice of what to do with their lives. Look at your cousin Sherry! The main thing that’s changed between your generation and mine is how other people react to those choices. The way I see it, the choice to be unconventional came easier to me for two reasons: 1) It’s not as “frowned upon” today for women to not start having babies right away (or even at all), and 2) You, as a parent, afforded me many more opportunities than yours were able to afford you. Does that mean youcouldn’t have done something different? No. It just means it’s been easier – though certainly not easy – for me.
In fact, you still could make the choice to live a different kind of life. You mention my travel quite a bit. Well, if that’s what’s important to you, then you would need to make the financial sacrifices elsewhere to make it happen, just like we do here. Sure, I’m not thrilled that we can still see our subfloor through worn parts of our carpet, but I get over it when I’m on my way to seeing another part of the world.
Ouch! Makes me wish I were a random stranger.
You know I say these things because I love you and I want you to be happy. :)
I have to add one more thing. I do think your generation has ours to thank for all the choices you have. That’s because our parents’ generation pretty much expected us to do what they did. We, on the other hand, always wanted more for our kids and tried to give them the opportunities to find their talents, their passions and to always reach for more.
In the words of another father, “We are all lost a little. Do you think I am lost? I quite often don’t know what I am doing.”. I once read a little story called “The Train”. I had it hanging on the wall of my cube of an office for many years. Basically the wisdom it imparts is life is a train ride. Enjoy the ride. You will get to your destination, whatever that is, someday. We can get so focused on the destination we don’t notice the ride. This is not to say we should not care about where we are going or how we get there. Oh yeah, we will make mistakes on the way. All we can do is learn from them. It is too bad our chldren can’t absorb the knowlege their parents have gained living their lives. It seems each generation has to live their own lives. Enjoy the ride Katie.
Thanks, dad. :) I know you’ve been telling me these things for years. And don’t worry – if nothing else, I’ve definitely been enjoying most of the ride. :)
First of all, I love Danny’s song. If I ever get married, I am playing it.
Secondly, life is so nuts. I sometimes wonder about what I’m doing, do I make a difference, what is the point of everything? I just try to put one foot if front of the other.
Best of luck to you.
SUCH a good song! You know, when I’m asking myself whether I’m making a difference, it helps to narrow my scope. I try to make a positive difference to people I interact with – whether it’s just a friendly smile or an unexpected compliment. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make someone’s day. (The irony is that it’s harder to do this for the people we love. I need to work harder in that respect.)
Thanks for commenting!
I just came across your blog and really related to this post! It made me think of a quote a friend sent me when I was feeling a bit flopsy and as though everyone were settling down to a more sensible life than me and they all had a much better list of the socially-valued accomplishments:
“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand – strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOOHOO – what a ride!”
You’ve maybe heard it before, but I thought I’d send it just in case as it always puts a spring in my step when I’m thinking “I don’t have much in the bank and my parents are tapping their feet for grandkids, but life feels wonderful anyway.”
Oh, and I LOVE the comment from the lass who gave you the $20: what a great thing to do! It’s good to hear it meant so much to you – it’s inspired me to do the same next time I get great service!
Thank you for the quote!! I have heard a variation of that before, but it’s always great to be reminded of these things. And you’re right – it’s not about some checklist of things I’m “supposed” to be doing that will make everyone else happy. It’s about enjoying my time in the best ways possible – living and loving life! Thanks for the reminder. :)
I laughed at the part about your parents tapping their feet for grandkids. I can relate all too well. And I’m glad I shared the story of the girl with the $20 since it inspired you to do the same! Sometimes a boost from a stranger is the best kind.
“What I do know is that I can’t keep trying to measure my accomplishments (or lack thereof) against other people my age. Because, the thing is, who am I to put a weight on accomplishments? Education, income, career, lifestyle… they might all affect how “accomplished” an individual feels, but happiness – in my humble little opinion – is the only true measure of success.”
Can we condense that and make it into a short phrase I can tattoo on my forehead, backward, so it’s staring me in the face every morning?
You and I (and Catherine) are eating out of the same pickle jar.
Oh! I completely forgot! Your $20 story reminded me of when I was checking IDs at Brewsky’s (ahhh…Brewsky’s). On one of my last nights working, one of my regulars came up to me and handed me a $20 saying, “This is for you being you. Good luck in California.”
Lucky for you, it’s already been summarized: “Don’t worry – Be happy!”
Oh, and that’s awesome you got tipped when you weren’t even waiting tables! You probably made that person’s day every time he/she came in. :)
@ Matthew: I loved that paragraph too and since a tattoo on the face tends to scare small children, I’m going to print it out and stick it on my bulletin board to remind me everyday not to lose sight of what’s really important: happiness, friends and family, and love.
@ Katie: I’m so glad I found your blog (by googling images of “quitting a serving job” lol)! Oftentimes I feel like I’m just floating, without my feet on solid ground. And while this feeling of being utterly lost can be daunting, knowing that there are others out there who are floating right beside you is a great boost of confidence and comfort. Being lost alone = scary. Being lost with friends = fun and oftentimes leads to a great adventure.
Again, one of the nicest comments ever. Thank you! And yeah… I wish I was quitting my serving job. :)
Great point about being lost with friends. I hope I have some (more) great adventures in the near future!
I am new to your blog and I am glad that I found it! I think that was such a sweet comment from your dad. I think your dogs are really cute! To look at those sweet faces you would never know that they had been that busy!!
Thanks, Alicia! Yes, my dad has some pearls of wisdom to share from time to time. And the dogs… Well, like I said, they’re lucky they have such sweet faces. ;)
Oooh, oooh. Your “consumed by food” comment gave me an idea….
I think you should start a food blog. And title it Katie’s Kitchen: Where the Food Consumes You.
Eh? Eh? ;-)
Hahaha. I wish I were qualified to start a food blog. But that’s one of those things where there are plenty of people out there who do it far better, so I’ll leave it to them. However, if you want to try to sell that title idea, I’m in. I require 80%.
We are definitely all lost and all in the middle of quarter life crises (me and everyone else I know included). I don’t know why people don’t talk about this stuff more. Thanks for opening up the topic.
And we forget that when we compare ourselves to others, we are only seeing the facade they show on the surface in polite society. Get to know them over a couple of drinks and you find it’s all perception and they are (as Catherine’s father put it) lost as well.
Lost, groping, fumbling, falling, tripping over themselves in order to find out what they really want and how the hell to get there.
I think people don’t talk about it because it can be embarrassing to admit. But then, we all know that I’m one to embrace embarrassment head-on. :)
And you’re absolutely right – comparing does no good because we’re only comparing ourselves to what people want us to see. I wish they’d invented “virtual internet drinks” already because I’d love to have one with you!
Just now seeing this Katie – I’m so behind on all my reading! Thanks for including what my dad said in your post. It really struck me as well.
I don’t have any answers for everything you’ve been facing and your uncertainly – obviously, I’m working through my own issues! – but for what it’s worth, it seems like you are very prepared to deal with any challenges. You seem so smart and so passionate about your life – I don’t know how you could go really wrong. Every decision will lead you exactly where you need/deserve/are destined to be. I have been finding some comfort in trying to believe that… maybe you will too?
Catherine, thank you for saying that. I hope it’s true, because it really helps take the pressure off. :)