When you’re a little kid, all you want to do is be taken care of. Lunches packed, stroller rides, bandaids. As you grow older, you want to be free, yet the teenage idea of independence is something you want until the bill comes. Funny enough, when you reach a certain age you want to pay your bills. The satisfaction of supporting yourself completely is something most of us strive for, even the ones who had the longest Christmas list.
I hadn’t 100% reached my goal of achieving financial independence, but I was getting there. I was paying my rent, paying my bills, and had finally secured medical insurance before my impending 26th birthday. I was coming off one of the best weeks of my life: Maid of Honor in one of my best friend’s wedding, my parents were in town, I had bought my first car… the whole thing seems almost cliche. When my parents said goodbye that Sunday they told me how proud of me they were and I drove back to my house with a heart that felt just about full.
Monday afternoon I was laid off. I loved my job and I did a good job, hell I had even been an unpaid intern for 3 months prior to landing my job…but In the entry-level real world, you’re often only as good as the next person (with more experience). That moment was one of the darkest moments of my life. As soon as the elevator doors closed I lowered my chin from my attempt at holding it high and began walking towards my suddenly very expensive looking brand new car. What the *&@% am I going to do?
When you are 25, most of the time, you don’t need to be taken care of. That moment, all I wanted was my parents. The day before I had looked upon the Portland skyline lovingly; that afternoon some of my first words into the phone were about giving up and heading back to California. The voice on the other end said “Abby, we are so proud of you.” I don’t think my Dad will ever know just how deep the exhale was after I heard that.
I was preparing to go backwards, to ask for help, pick myself up. My family and friends were nothing short of legendary helping me wade out from under the bad news. People seemed to come out of the woodwork with thoughtful messages, lunch dates, hiking trips, dog-sitting jobs, friends-of-friends who were hiring, pizzas magically appearing in my freezer, tickets to shows, white-water rafting trips..seriously. In my lowest of lows, I was still going to bed happy.
Despite all of the love and support one can receive from their family and friends, in the end, the only person who decides whether or not you’re happy is yourself. I am still waking up upset. My body still flutters awake at 7am despite the now absent alarm. Reality sets in like a slow moving fog. Two other people were laid off at my old office the same day as I was, except one of those people had two children and a wife at home. I remind myself of how it could be worse, a lot worse. This isn’t the first shitty situation I’ve faced and it damn sure won’t be the last, but for me, this one is different.
At 25, we either take care of ourselves, or we don’t. More and more in our generation, those of us who can’t become those who don’t. Help from our parents is often available, whether it be a place to live or a check to cash. At my age, all I want to ask from my parents is a hug and whether or not they want steak or lobster (my treat). That dream was a long way from reality even with my first ‘real’ job, but it has never seemed further away.
I don’t want to start over, I don’t want to need help, but more than both of those things, I don’t want to sink into a place where I will have to be asking for the rest of my life. This is a breaking point, one of those poignant examples in life where one can either take the red pill or the blue. You must choose wisely. If Harry Potter himself offers you the cloak of invisibility you mustn’t take it. I’ve been reading every positive mantra, every ‘hang in there’ quote known to man, and I still have to say that this period in you life can be extremely trying (in fact reading all of that bullshit may just make it worse). None the less, it means I’m alive.
This is not the time when I figure it all out, its the time when I keep going. Right now, forward is enough. Backwards mind means a backwards path. Move on. When I was little, my Mom put a bandaid on to help me heal. When you get older, you realize its not sensible to stick a bandaid on your heart. Despite everything else, I am still able to walk on my own two feet. Now all that is left to do is readjust my chin to the upright position.