what 10 years taught me.


On The Event of The 10 Year Reunion 

At 18, I had some pretty big dreams. I think we all did then. And, there was a clear next step for how to get there. We wouldn’t feel those well now what? feelings until 4 years later, until the next graduation – until the world unleashed us into a job market decimated by a financial crisis (thanks for that.) Until we realized that you can do everything right, do all the things your english composition teacher set out for you to do, and still come up empty handed. Even if it was only for a little while, it shakes a person. I know it shook me. I don’t know if I’ll ever lose the deep need I feel for stability, the sense of urgency I feel to snatch every opportunity, and a weird kind of conservatism that makes me stay in just-alright situations a little longer than I need to or probably should. Somewhere deep inside me there is a nagging fear that there might not be something else.

As it turns out .... real life, grown up, adult life is hard. Like, really hard. The big stuff. Rent is too damn high. Marriage is a continual recommitment (and being single in the era of Tinder sucks.) As they grow older, we have to start parenting our parents. People we love start to die. 

There are a lot of pieces to be a functioning adult that are so obvious, but I never realized would be so impossibly hard. Finding a place to live, finding a partner, finding time to get your teeth cleaned. 

But what I really didn’t expect is that it would take a super human level of energy and tenacity just to get through the day. To do the tiny, life sustaining stuff. Like cooking dinner. Like making it to the post office in time to mail bills. 

And the trouble is … this work is invisible. We don’t ever see it. We don’t ever give ourselves credit for it. And we rarely applaud each other for it either. 

There is no bridal shower or promotion party or Pulitzer Prize for doing the laundry. 

Lately when someone accomplishes something really big – when they write a book or have a baby – I can’t help but be filled with wonder. Not just because it’s a tremendous accomplishment. But because they managed to do that on top of the endless list of daily banalities we all face. Like: you wrote a book and you picked up your birth control prescription?! Just, wow. 

So here we are 10 years later, and I’d like to ask everyone to treat each other and to treat ourselves more gently – the way you would something that is fragile and necessary. Because the way we all keep getting up everyday, and keep making a go of this life, it's amazing. It’s an accomplishment that takes everything we’ve got. 
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6 comments:

  1. Sam, this is so relevant and IMPORTANT. Thank you for sharing. I feel a lot less crazy knowing that we share a lot of the same feelings :) I think you're doing a damn good job of being an adult human. xo

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  2. Oh my goodness yes! Its amazing how much of what makes my (and everyone's) work difficult is not the work itself, but the sitting in the chair, the not eating a snack...

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  3. SO REAL: Like: you wrote a book and you picked up your birth control prescription?! Just, wow.

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  4. Love this! So well written. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Sam, you were my favorite teaching assistant at UMass and you are a tremendous inspiration to me. I hope you are still teaching.. your influence is much stronger than you know!

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