little boxes

I’ve been thinking a lot about the hard work it takes to realize personal goals. I’m a quitter, you see.


A lot of my high school graduating class has successfully transitioned to “normal” adult life. They work at banks, in cubicles, or at medical offices. They wear suits or scrubs. They participate in the thrill of rush hour. They go on cruises sometimes. But I, at almost 25, just quit my job on a production floor to work part time at a coffee shop. I’m working jobs that most certainly don’t require a four year degree. And the thing about it is that, ultimately, I chose these paths, these technical jobs. Sure, I’ve interviewed for “real” jobs, but I’ve never gravitated toward them.

What I’m trying to figure out is if I’m afraid or enlightened. We think we know ourselves, but we’ve told so many coping stories, it all gets muddled in our heads. On the one hand, I know I’m terrified of getting stuck. The thought of spending decades in an office chair working toward something I’m not absolutely passionate about makes the veins on the side of my head pop out. But I also like to think I’m (rightly) ideologically opposed to buying into the myth that adult life has to look like that, as if wearing modest black pumps to work and conducting conference calls is the badge of responsibility or the marker of success. 

But refusing that life means it’s up to me to make something happen. If I’m not willing to be propelled into stable adulthood by a corporate infrastructure, it rests on me to provide the push forward. And I’d like to pretend I’m strong enough to take care of myself; I scoff at those who take the easy way out – who settle – but I allow the fear of failure to eat away at me before I’ve really started anything.

I quit my job because it was unfulfilling, but, I swear, it’s not because I’m lazy. I have big plans for my vintage store. I’m excited to make it happen. I’m also terrified that the success or failure of Platinum and Rust is my burden to bear alone. I need to believe I can do it. I need to believe I have the skills, the tact, and the talent to succeed. I’m afraid that my peers (and parents) living in cushy, corporate stability scoff at me. I’m afraid that they don’t think I can do it. I’m afraid that their boxed-in dreams (or contentment, as it may be) masquerading as wisdom will get the best of them, and the best of me.

But it really doesn’t matter, does it? When I succeed, none of the doubt will matter at all.


We move in a week.

Daniel and I both feel a sort of stagnant anxiety. The move is inevitable. It is approaching quickly. We have a lot to do.

I’ve lived in Florida for almost 14 years – that’s most of my life. I never didn’t like it, but I’ve grown to love it – particularly its nature – passionately, especially within the past few years. There is so much beauty here. A hummingbird just came to our porch! A baby manatee was less than 5 feet away from me at Wakulla Springs yesterday. I used to see otters play in the lake by our house. Tallahassee is full of quiet canopy roads and hidden parks. The Florida Caverns are some of the most ornate caves in the United States. Torreya State Park boasts a view that makes you feel like you’re in the foothills of a mountain range.

I have always felt most at peace when I look out to appreciate natural beauty. I know Charlottesville has it, too, and it will probably overwhelm me. The beauty of Tallahassee and of Florida in general have served as a daily reminder that I am blessed, that the world holds wonder still.

Tallahassee has changed me more than any other location, mostly because it held my growing-up years. I was just reflecting with a friend that when you go off to college you don’t realize, at least not on an emotional level, that you will never return to home life as it was. Tallahassee became more than just the place I attended college, it became my home. I’ve lived here 5 years. Within that time, I lived alone for the first time, navigated classes and roads, led student organizations, lost and made friends, lost faith and gained it, had my first kiss, cried deeply, laughed heartily, got married, rented an apartment, graduated, saw my friends fall in love, worked odd jobs, learned custom framing, and experienced the heaviness of post-grad life. I was challenged. I failed and succeeded. I learned compassion and forgiveness and pain. These have been hard years and wonderful years.

A quiet excitement is beginning to surface. I never intended to spend my whole life here. If I’m going to move, I’m glad it’s Charlottesville, a place consistently rated as one of the best places to live in the United States. I’m happy to live near the Blue Ridge mountains. I’m happy that Daniel and I get to go together. I’m happy for another starting-over point – a time for reinvention and introspection and speculation about things to come.

I think we need to be woken up by landmark life changes. I needed to know that the move was coming to realize how much I have, and how much I’ll miss. In the past few months, I have finally gotten around to re-visiting people and places I love, to exploring places I hadn’t yet worked up the energy to visit. I’m grateful for the deadline that tells me I only have a few more moments to squeeze out what Florida has to offer.

I’m happy that amid the chaos of packing and uncertainty and early 20s crisis, I can find so many things to be happy about.