Sunday, April 17, 2011

10 years later

A colleague and fellow blogger, The Culture Mom, recently wrote about changes she's experienced over the past 10 years. It got me thinking...

I reflected on one element of this a week or so ago right after I saw Richard Ashcroft in concert. The technology changes we've seen since 2001 have been enormous. I talked here about how the concert going experience has drastically changed for the audience.

But what else? 10 years ago I was laid off from my first job, just barely 23 years old. I had a horrible falling out with a friend and this week marks the 10 year anniversary of my grandfather's passing. It was a horrible first three months. It would get worse when I would experience loss at a larger scale in September when the towers collapsed. While I didn't know anyone personally affected, it further escalated my feelings of loss, grief and vulnerability.

I was young, ambitious and figuring out my place in the world. My parents were still separated. I was learning how to draw lines and set boundaries in relationships, and learning about myself within those relationships. Classic quarter life existential crisis.

I was about 10 lbs lighter ;) a nice size 4/6 pre baby. I was living in the city and enjoying the proximity to coffee houses, the museum area, my still favorite of all time gym, Life Fitness in Fairmount. I had a lot of free time but I was wasn't like most carefree 20 somethings. The layoff (and the subsequent ones) drove me into a very focused, very driven mentality. I was very intense and I brought that level of intensity to everything I did. I felt frustrated and somewhat entitled. I always wanted more and strived to identify what "more" looked like. It was one of only a few times in my life that I couldn't visualize what lay ahead of me.

I partied a little, not to the extent I did in college but I enjoyed checking out new places in Old City and Manayunk. I shopped at The Limited, The Gap, and Banana Republic. My style was a tad more trendy. I dyed my hair myself. I worked out a lot and ate as healthy as I do now.

Just the other day I was listening to The Smiths and my mind went immediately to 1998-2000 when I was taking photography classes at SJU. I can still smell the photo chemicals in the room, taste the freedom I had to come and go to the darkroom, and the events surrounding the times. I loved college. LOVED IT. While there was a lot of personal turmoil then, I fought my way through it, found a balance with the I have/have not. I had one of the most amazing senior years ever and I knew then how lucky I was to be experiencing all I was. I could feel then how I was growing emotionally, mentally, intellectually, culturally...

When I consider where I am now -- 33, married, little guy, working to build a business -- I'm actually in a much better, happier part of my life. To this day, I don't like to waste time and there's still a level of intense enthusiasm I bring to most projects and situations, but thankfully, I've mellowed a bit since then. Sometime around the time I was 29 I got a sense of perspective. I realized I was OK with my choices and I didn't need to explain myself. I was content in my relationships and with who I was, what I had learned, how I'd evolved. My pregnancy forced me to slow down just enough to relish in some simple things that I never allowed myself time for previously - baths, manicures and pedicures, salon visits, watching a little TV or reading. I still need reminders to slow down sometimes...I see myself doing so much with my son and it's terrific but there's also something to be said for just chilling out.

There's definitely not nearly as much time for me as there once was. I miss the creativity that seemed to flow freely in college and often in my 20s. Somedays I resent that...though not because I wish things were the same as they were then. More like I wish the selflessness was recognized more often. I'm not a selfless person by nature. But I'm a responsible one. Having a child means putting his needs before mine daily. It's out of responsibility but also love. I've learned to be a lot less selfish. I'm still assertive and still aware of what I need but I can't say I get the help I know I should. I'm also someone that likes to do a lot. I have to find balances but I do have to fight for "me" time.

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