Musical Temperance: So This is the New Year

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST: MT1: So This is the New Year 

BannerAround now is when I remember I made New Year’s resolutions back in December of the previous year.

This realization always happens at the most inopportune time, like while I was at the grocery store the other day taking a mental inventory of my freezer and debating how many containers of Haagen-Dazs I could comfortably fit in there (the answer: five, but only if I take out my bottle of vodka). As I was reaching for a chilly pint of caloric sin, I remembered I vowed to eat less junk food in 2015.

Before I knew it, my other forgotten resolutions began spilling out of my head and into my shopping cart: eat healthier, complete my novel, become financially responsible, buy a new car, apply to grad school, pint sized reminders of my failure piling up in front of me.

I drove home in a panic, taking frantic chomps of my Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream without even using a spoon, overwhelmed by the New Year’s resolutions I had forgotten and subsequently broken (including one I always make to eat better). Are all of my resolutions equally important? No, not particularly. But in these moments, I find myself asking the same question over and over again: when will I start feeling like an adult?

I thought I was having some kind of arrested development, but my therapist affectionately called my restless panic a “quarter-life crisis.” The term, originally coined by Abby Wilner, was used to describe her post-college anxiety after she moved back home and had no idea what do with her life. Like Wilner, I strutted around my college campus like a pseudo-adult, high on the possibility that I would change the world, certain that my future would be printed on the back of my diploma like a treasure map. Nobody told us we needed to reshape our childhood dreams into practical goals (or maybe they did and we just weren’t listening). Many of us felt ill-prepared for adulthood, as if thrown out of a plane with a knapsack instead of a parachute.

Growing up, I dreamt of becoming a famous violin player and novelist. I’m not sure why I thought those two careers were related, but I remember the blurry vision I had of my taller self, playing beautifully enough to bring people to tears and reading excerpts from my novel in packed bookstores. At 31, I can assure you that I am neither of those things. In fact, by this age I was confident I’d be successful, married, possibly famous, and writing bestselling novels in a home office with a large picture window. Many of my closest friends are now parents or have professions that make me feel woefully unaccomplished. I sometimes feel like I’m playing catch up with them, hoping there will be some definitive moment where I feel like I’ve successfully transitioned into adulthood too.

I am beginning to think the first step into adulthood is less apparent than we imagined growing up. Am I a grown up when I pay for my bills instead of purchasing a new pair of shoes? Am I considered an adult when I live in a house instead of an apartment? Am I a grown up when I stop eating pop tarts for breakfast? Perhaps only I am able to decide.

We have the power to assign meaning to the personal milestones in our lives. These badges of honor should be not be defined by the arbitrary expectations set by society, but rather by the ever changing personal goals we create for ourselves. We may not fulfill every resolution we make this year and that’s okay. We’re meant to be in this chaotic limbo between adolescence and adulthood. We’re meant to flounder in our new freedom and responsibilities because without this struggle, there would be no growth.

I haven’t become a famous violin player or novelist yet (although, I’m still holding out for the latter), but it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped thinking about who I want to be. Even if we don’t end up becoming the adults we originally envisioned ourselves as, our fantasies dare us to dream bigger than the realities we know. These experiences are what steer us toward who we are, filling in the essential markers in our journey, and further guiding us on the road ahead.

Instead of lamenting over what we’ve left unfinished, let’s take a moment to appreciate what we’ve accomplished so far. Let’s celebrate our steps and missteps. As far as I’m concerned, this marks the beginning of 2015. Our slate isn’t clean, but we don’t need it to be.

{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1FzwXo0}
{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1FzwXo0}

So let’s continue to be dreamers and resolution makers. Let’s be idealists and also remember we have the capacity to make great strides in our lives. As Gloria Steinem once wrote, “Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST: MT1: So This is the New Year 

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Kristel is a sometimes angsty writer from Hawaii who now lives in Los Angeles, CA. She claims she’s a Marketing Director at web design agency, but she spends most of her day in front of the computer while wearing pajamas.

Musical Temperance is her small attempt at creating the perfect soundtrack to help her survive an extended quarter-life crisis. Additional musings and playlists can be found at kristelyoneda.com.

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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

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7 thoughts on “Musical Temperance: So This is the New Year”

  1. Beautiful post, thank you for sharing this. I can absolutely relate. At 33 I am still scraping a living and life doesn’t look anywhere near the way I thought it would at 16. But I have plans, projects, ideas. The only thing that gets in the way of this is that sense that I’m not doing well enough, that I should have accomplished more, that I should have a bigger home or serious savings or some kind of career path. All junk that comes from outside of me, that has nothing at all to do with me, but somehow has the potential to affect me.
    PS Good luck with your novel/s!! xxxxx

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  2. Hi Beth!

    Thank you so much for your kind words ! That really means a lot to me ❤ You know, I also get stuck (and sometimes discouraged about my life) in that tricky space between childhood expectation and adult reality.

    When I feel overwhelmed, I try to remember something my professor told me when I was feeling pretty angsty in college. He told me about how he played in a jazz band for a while after he got his B.A. and decided to pursue his PhD much later in life. Others were not so thrilled he chose music over academia at the time, but he never regretted his decision to play music for those years. He explained that our journeys are never as straightforward as we think they should be and that's fine. He said, "Wherever you are is where you're meant to be."

    Heading over to your blog now to check it out 🙂

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  3. Great post! However, I was getting angry at the thought of you buying and consuming ice cream when I’m sure I probably told you to go to the gym that day. 🙂

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    1. Knowing me, I probably TOLD you I went to the gym that day and instead paced around my apartment eating ice cream! If it’s any consolation, I didn’t get to eat pizza today 😛

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  4. Well, as for becoming an adult as one gets older…I’m still waiting…(and I’m twice your age, LOL). Love it!

    Like

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