But let me tell you, my life post-college has been anything but black and white.
School was easy, relatively speaking. Make good grades, be nice to people, and you will get validation of who you are as a person. (If I'm not getting A's, I'm failing. If I'm not making my friends happy, I'm a terrible friend). Everyone likes the nice person who can help them on their homework, right? College was an exciting and adventurous change, but still within a structure that was simultaneously terrifying and familiar to me. (Choose your major, choose your life path. Choose wrong, and set yourself up for a series of wrong choices). It made sense for a time...at least until I wasn't in it anymore. Then it was like the Wild West.
How many identity crises are you allowed to experience as a person? Because if there is a quota, I've likely hit it in my twenties. Since graduation, I've tried to grasp whatever sense of stability I could by continuing to seek validation from everyone but myself. How does _____ feel about my choices? What would _____ do? Does _____ like me? It was always comforting to know that I was heading along the "right" path, aka one that other people agreed with me on. The problem is, that path is the most unstable it can possibly be.
Similar to the feeling that you get when you realize your parents don't have all of the answers, I had a realization that other people don't have the answers to my life. They can have all of the opinions and advice in the world, but in the end I'm a different person than they are, and the only one of "me" they will ever know. So to give them ultimate say on what I do would be doing myself a disservice. They probably also don't want that responsibility.
And also, their feelings about everything around them (including me) are constantly changing and have almost everything to do with them, and nothing to do with me. If it has something to do with me, then they will hopefully say something. I do not have to read their minds, which is a relief, because I am usually wrong.
So, back to the drawing board. How do I find stability and flexibility within myself? The answer: start with more headspace. Listen. Leave space in my life and my thoughts for the in-between; open my mind to a curiosity of what is and what could be. Life is not black and white, and I'm learning what that means for me.
I want to live my life from the inside out.
"The world will tell you how to live, if you let it. Don't let it. Take up your space. Raise your voice. Sing your song. This is your chance to make or remake a life that thrills you."