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artwork by Andreas Lie

A few months ago I wrote about how completely enamored I was by all of the commuters on the morning train into center city. They were doing seemingly important things on their smartphones: sending emails, checking the stocks, making phone calls despite being in the quiet car. At the time of writing that post I couldn’t wait to join them, partially because it would mean I had been accepted for the internship I had been dreaming about, and partially because it would mean I was another step closer on my journey to adulthood.

After being in my internship for almost a month I can tell you that my initial adoration of the morning commuters couldn’t have been more off course. Upon further observation and analysis of my fellow commuters, I’ve noticed a few things. The life in their eyes is gone—perhaps due to both physical and mental exhaustion. Waking up early every morning to catch the same train to go to the same office to do the same job. It’s so monotonous, and you can see the monotony reflecting in their eyes. Everyone is tired. Everyone is busy. Everyone just wants to make it through the day so they can enjoy a drink at happy hour and a glass of wine while watching The Bachelor in pajamas that probably haven’t been washed in over a week.

I feel bad for them. But I also fear becoming them. Each morning I wake up, though quite tired, excited for the day. Perhaps this is because I’m still young and fresh. I’m an intern; I’m supposed to be young and fresh. I wake up thirty minutes earlier than I should so I can do my hair and my makeup and put an outfit together. I catch the earlier train so I can get to work 20 minutes early, and even have time to stop at La Colombe for an espresso shot.

I don’t want this feeling to end. That is what scares me about adulthood. Bills, marriage, children, mortgages, 401ks; I can deal with all of that. Even though I don’t know how to right now, I’ll certainly learn to. But the thought of sitting with lifeless eyes every morning on a packed train and going to a monotonous desk job I somewhat like; that’s what truly frightens me. Is that a stage we’re all destined to hit eventually? Is it a small phase everyone faces? Is that the point in our lives where we have to “pay our dues” before becoming successful? I’m not sure I want to find out.

What I am sure of is that I’m dedicated to preventing that stage from happening. As idealistic (and maybe a little naïve) as it sounds, I am determined to build a career for myself doing something I love.

I dream of waking up every morning like I do now: bright-eyed and ready to head to my job that I love.

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