Sunday, October 05, 2008

My new so-called life

Isn't it funny how things can change so drastically, and somehow people just adapt? That always amazes me. Even when I realize that it's happened to me -- somehow I made a big jump, a leap of faith, and managed to survive.

We packed up our life and moved to Iowa. I finished my PhD, I got a job, we bought a house. Major life events. Stressful ones, at that. When you wake up day to day, sometimes you don't realize how much things have changed. You don't realize how different your life is from just a few weeks before. And then there are other moments. Maybe just walking through the grocery store or driving down an unfamiliar street...and it just hits you. This is my life.

Last weekend I went back to Maryland. I have never had to take a plane to get home before. It was much more of an ordeal than a three hour car ride. But it made me appreciate being back at my parents house that much more. And it made me a little sad, too.

I have an office now. With my own phone. And business cards. And a locked door. A wide screen computer and my own printer.

But I don't really have any friends. Well, that's not entirely true. I have three or four friends. But compared to the community of people I had by the time I left grad school, I don't have any friends. I miss that sense of familiarity. The way you can just start talking, without any context, and they know what you mean. Or just the comfort in knowing that you'll always have a buddy to go shopping with or bounce ideas off of. Or ask, does this look okay?

It's always a strange experience meeting new people. Figuring out how to present yourself. How you want them to see you. Wondering what they'll see without you realizing.

No one believes I'm a professor. It was funny at first, but now it causes me anxiety. I want to be taken seriously. I want to look the part. I want to be good at what I do.

I know that every transition comes with gains and losses. And sometimes gains seems like losses and losses seem like gains. And you're not sure how to add it all up in your head. To make sense of the choices you've made.

My mom keeps saying to me "All your dreams came true!" This surprises me. I have never identified my career aspirations as dreams. In fact, I don't know if I've identified anything as a real dream. I guess running a marathon was a dream, and I did that. Owning a house was a dream, and now we have one. Complete with the fenced in yard that I so desperately wanted for my dogs. But for someone to tell you that you've arrived. You've made it to the destination labeled "your dreams"...that just seems somehow scary to me. It makes me analyze me new life in a new light. I'm not really sure what conclusions I'm drawing from that. But it never occurred to me until she said that finishing a PhD and getting a job in academia were my dreams. I almost didn't make it. All it takes is a look through the archives of this blog to see there were many times when I almost gave up.

I know this is disjointed and incoherent. But this is what's going through my head on a Sunday night when I'm sitting in my office trying to catch up on my work for the week. And talking to friends on the phone, hearing about familiar places, picturing my old cubicle in Sparks and my favorite computer in the grad student just hits me tonight that this is my life. And I guess I better get used to it.