So here’s what has been going on with me.
1) I finished my junior year of college
What that means: I’m freaking out. Senior year is looming ahead at the tip of this monster I like to call real life with a side of cold bills and bitter rent. It feels like once senior year descends, it will become an overwhelming avalanche of new responsibilities and stresses. I’m about to enter into adult life and the pressure to have things figured out, to know what I want and to get a job is high. I know I can’t exactly deal with it now, but it doesn’t stop anxiety-prone me to thinking about it. ALL. THE. TIME.
What it also means: I’m almost done with college and school and studying and papers and freshman!
2) I got a boyfriend
What that means: I’m freaking out. But in a better way than the one mentioned before. It’s a whole new kind of freaking out, still filled with questions and uncertainty about the future but in an exciting way that simultaneously grounds me in the present. I never expected myself to be in a relationship; I was never seeking out companionship. Nor have I ever been the type of person to define themselves by the romantic relationship that they’re in, and I’m not about to start. But it is something I wanted to share because it is important to me; it has affected me, unexpectedly and pleasantly.
What it also means: I am now a part of a team. Before I get too cheesy and lovey and gross that I start needing to vomit my lunch all over my computer, I just want to say that eighteen year old me, or twenty year old me is wrong. Sure, I may not need someone by my side, and certainly friends are always good but I’ve come to acknowledge the benefit of having a partner and the significance of having and being one.
3) I got a job waiting tables
What that means: I’m tired every single night. I almost never want to go in to work.
What it also means: I’ve met a very interesting group of people that have allowed me to reflect a bit on life.
For those that have never served before, it’s hard. And I don’t mean to say that because I want to gather pity points, but from being on your feet for up to 6 hours to dealing with upset customers to opening bottles of wine flawlessly in front of customers and memorizing the day’s specials, serving is an underappreciated job. Many of the people I’ve met are serving as a side job. Almost everybody has some other gig that they’re also working. This is the job that pays the bills, the other one is what they want to do. They are students, lawyers, documentary film makers, writers; people with aspirations that have maybe been a little bogged down by real life concerns. “I never thought I’d be working here this long” is a phrase I’ve heard thrown around the server’s station during slow nights. However, servers can make bank on a good night. Resulting in a beautiful love hate relationship with your job. This is a job that makes the change from temporary to ‘this-is-what-I’m-doing-with-my-life’ look like child’s play. It makes me worry. Worry that it will suck me into a rut, worry that I’ll get to comfortable serving tables to make ends meet that I won’t truly get off my ass and do something with my dreams.
4) I got a tattoo
What that means: I forked up enough money to lie down and let someone injure me by inserting ink into my skin with a needle for almost two hours.
What it also means: I would not get something permanently tattooed to my skin if it didn’t mean something more. Since I’m not including a visual, I will describe my tattoo to you. It’s a dream catcher located slightly above my right shoulder blade (I know, original right?), with the threads within the circle creating a yin yang. So besides the fact, as my friends so often like to remind me, that my tattoo increases my ‘bad-ass’ points, it also serves as a reminder. It’s a reminder to dream. Big or small, I believe it is always important to dream, to want and hope for better and to keep that in your sights such that it puts other things into perspective. It’s also a reminder for balance. I know it sounds cliché or that I’m buying into some weird eastern mysticism and actually, I am but hear me out. I took a class on Classical Chinese philosophy this past semester and actually learned what the yin yang is supposed to mean within the larger context of Daoism. It’s an ever flowing, ever changing force that exists between two extremes. It mediates them, balances them into harmony. I’m not going to go so far as to say that I believe that this force governs the universe or my life. Certainly I’m willing to admit that I believe it plays a part in it and rather than give it control, I see it as an example of the type of balance that can be achieved. It reminds me that for all the downs there will be ups and for all the ups there will be downs, what I can control, what I can balance is how I react to them.
I wanted to finish with the tattoo though it is by far the oldest thing on this list because I needed a reminder that it was a reminder. I began writing this flustered, anxious and sad, bemoaning my life’s apparent lack of direction, its lack of ambition and lack of success. And as I was pounding out my feelings, alternating between feeling sorry for myself and then frustrated at myself for feeling sorry for myself, I gave myself a metaphorical kick in the ass. “You are Emily Lin! You rebel who doesn’t let people make decisions for her! Who grew a pair and got a tattoo against her parent’s will!”
This is the reminder, the update that I need every now and again in my life. And it’s sad, maybe, to think that I need to be reminded that I run my life but at the same time it’s also comforting. I can ride the wave of life like “Look ma! No hands!” with the knowledge that I know exactly where the reins are and that they’re mine to hold.