This is a post I wrote on New Years and never published. But damn I wish I had. Anyway, compared to where I am now, this is pretty funny.
This very minute, I have no idea what I want to do with my life. And I’m 19. I’m getting old!
I know that’s ridiculous. Everyone I’ve talked to about my crisis of what I’m going to do with my life has told me that I have like a million years to figure out what I’m going to do with my life. In some way or another, they’ve all said, “It will come to you.” And my thought is “When? How will I know?”
But, today, while being wildly productive, I watched the final episode of the fourth season of Parks and Recreation. And I cried. Now, for the ones who know me in the real world, you know I am a crier. But I have a very hard time crying about things I know are fake, like movies and books even if I have connected with the characters. But as Leslie Knope, presented her boyfriend with (spoilers) a Washington Monument statue to tell him to go to DC and as the confetti rained down on her after she’d won her campaign for council woman in Pawnee, I cried. Her dream had come true, the thing that she had worked her whole life for, dreamed of and fought for had finally come true and because of that, she had to let the love of her life enter into his dream, walk his own path, even if that meant that they would be separated.
It wasn’t until tonight that I realized why I had cried over this woman who never had and never would exist. It was because Leslie Knope was a woman I wanted to be. I finally saw Leslie for who she was. She believes in her small town even when everyone else doesn’t and she works tirelessly to make it a better place for it’s citizens even when they don’t deserve it. And I saw myself. I want to be this woman. A woman who’s willing to give it her all, who doesn’t let fear hold her back, or the opinions of others stop her from doing what’s right.
A friend said to me, “Life’s a mess” and in that moment, among the aching in my chest that signaled the obsessive yearning I have to do something important with my life, I saw that the people who lived satisfactory lives weren’t the people who spent their lives trying to clean up and untangle the mess of life. They were people who saw the mess of life and decided to pick a piece and give it their all. Dedicate their hearts and time to it. Whether it be time, money, or souls they picked a piece of the mess in front of them and lived for it. Leslie Knope lived for her town.
Right now, I don’t know what I want to do aside from the knowledge that I want to live an intentional life. But I think learning that I don’t have to straighten out the mess in front of me to figure that out gives me peace of mind. And hopefully, for those of you out there who’ve been misguided into thinking that life starts when they’ve figured it out (like I was) I want you to know that life starts when you decide it will and when you open your heart up to it. Whatever you decide it will look like for you.
So yes. 19 is old. It’s old to not know that I don’t have to have a perfect life and that I need to work not to untangle the chaos I see in front of me but invest in it. Don’t wait. Start living.