‘I am not in this world to live up to other people’s expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine.’ ~ Fritz Perls.
Panicked. Anxious. Questioning what I should doing and where I am now. There was I hoping my twenties would be a carefree existence with the distinct joy of finding myself and my place in the world. The moment the pressure lifts from academics, then the job search/be successful pressure hits full throttle. I feel guilty not knowing what I should do with my life with absolute 100% certainty, I’m chasing ideas and running with them (stong pull:fertility lab). But if something isn’t happening, when do I decide to give up and try another avenue.
The Daily Mail released an article today. It’s crazy how many of us fledgling adults are slumping into a ‘quarter-life crisis’, and sad that the pressure of life are getting to us at a time in our lives when we should be enjoying our newly found freedom and be full of hope for our futures. Instead many of us are directionless and uncertain. I remember a few months after I graduated feeling this way, I read the quarter-life crisis section of the Prospects.ac.uk forum and was shocked at how low some people felt. I remember one girl who had graduated in 2007, had been working temp jobs and just felt like a robot, sick of living with her parents still and wondered how long it would be til something came her way that was even loosely related to her degree. One guy shockingly felt so down that he had contemplated jumping in front of the train as his life felt so static, lacked meaning and had spent so much time unemployed and feeling useless that he thought he would never get employed. My heart broke for these people, would I feel the same if nothing had worked out for me years in the future? A shade of failure and inadequacy.
As the article suggested – take a break from the rat race and do something meaningful to lift your spirits. Which is precisely why I’m in Canada – avoiding stewing in my anxiousness and an unstable economy (plus the small matter of love). I have dipped my toe into the volunteer realm, the thoughts of making a difference at the dog shelter and getting started in a new project freed my mind from the worries of what I should be doing, but happy to do something I wanted to do. If it takes me longer to find my calling (scientific journalism? creative writing?) or be given a chance in the working world (Health Service hire me!) then so be it. It’s hard to say that and I do worry, especially when I see the busy streets and roads at 7am of people making their way to work and thinking ‘Shouldn’t this be me?’. What if my untapped potential fades away? What if no opportunity presents itself even though I keep my ears a-prick? What if I’m out of employment too long, does that make me a loser? Should I go to graduate school?
Something that always hurts when reading these articles is the insensitivity of some of the comments. Claiming Gen Y are a bunch of whiners and feel we are ‘entitled’. I certainly worked hard to get my degree but I never feel like I was owed anything. I think if it was known how many resumes some graduates have sent out to secure a single interview, the number of young people working for free just to get experience for the hope of an entry-level job in the future, the competition, the moments of feeling worthless. The vicious cycle of ‘needing experience, but needing some experience to compete for the experience opportunity’ plus the curse of student loans, maybe they could understand the upset.
The authors touch on pressures from the celebrity lifestyle. This certainly isn’t me, I love a new pair of shoes and something sparkly to add to my accessories carousel as much as the next girl but if need be I can live minimally and on a budget. I think we’re bombarded with images of what ‘success’ is and by some mystical osmosis we start to absorb these projections. Which is the source of unhappiness. Success is purely subjective, it’s where you want to be. Expecting something unrealistic is only going to lead to heartbreak and stress. I’m still trying to figure out my definition of success (with happiness leading the list) but it certainly won’t be shaped by anything other than my wants and desires.
Tiresome and stuffy, the bus journey dragged on, I was wondering if I would even get off at the right stop for the animal shelter. After escaping the confines of the vehicle and letting 45 minutes of journey evaporate away I was standing in front of the building. I could sense the creature compassion and happy wagging tails before I even entered. My purpose for being here was actually volunteer-oriented and I had an interview with the volunteer manager – which went swimmingly well and she was super nice.
Not only are neglected, abandoned and surrendered doggies bought here but the biggest lop-eared rabbits you’ve ever laid eyes on, kitty cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, birds and even a rogue snake has found its way into the shelter’s possession. 7000-8000 animals a year are bought through their doors – imagine that! Using their super powers of love and care they arrange adoptions, offer top-notch care and educate the public, real life animal heroes.
One thing that struck me about the dogs here was how well-behaved they were, either greeting you with barks and bounding – wanting to lick your face off in the friendliest of ways, or calm and gentle – to put you at ease in their company. Each dog has such a distinct personality, like people there are those that immediately want you attention and crave it, and those that are happy to sit back and maybe be a bit cautious about revealing too much of their personality till you know them better.
I thought I would share some photos of my day, including my favourite dogs. Yes, if I had the room I would love and look after them all, then buy a sleigh so I can get around the city when the winter snow starts to layer the ground.
Ginger (German shepherd, rottweiler cross) and Yoyo (American Eskimo). Great dogs, great spirit.
Top: Benny. Love at first sight. Here’s 50% American Eskimo, 50% who knows (pure awesome). He looked so full of joy I thought he would burst. Below: Charlie, a giant Saint Bernard, though between you and me I think he’s crossed with a giant teddy bear.
I have such a promising feeling about getting involved here, I’m excited to be a dog walker and carer and looking forward to putting a positive stamp on animals’ lives. Who wouldn’t want to spread kindness in the face of unconditional puppy love?
‘Close scrutiny will show that most “crisis situations” are opportunities to either advance, or stay where you are’ ~ Maxwell Maltz.
Today I went to an information meeting about being a crisis line volunteer at the Distress Centre. The place is very discreet, tucked away in the third floor of an office looking building, if you didn’t search for it you would have no idea it is even there. Despite being hidden away, the support being given to the Calgary community there is nothing short of obvious and remarkable. They never close their doors or lines.
The Distress Centre is somewhere for anyone to turn in a crisis and as a volunteer you listen, handle situations, explore options/feelings/concerns and work towards problem resolution. Given the responsibilities the training sounds pretty extensive. And with (potentially) someone’s life in your hands at the other end of a phone line I can understand.
Something else that struck me was that the social workers who gave the presentation were most definitely in love with their jobs. Making a difference really seemed to make them glow. They weren’t swimming in money but you could tell their line of work gave them reason to get up in the morning. I guess working from their hearts and brimming with compassion does that.
During the meeting I sat next to a girl, Amy, we shook hands and did introduction formalities and started chatting – she studies Biology, lived in Indonesia when she was younger, wants to go into genetic counseling and seemed like a bright button. I was even more delighted when she sat next to me on the tram to the mall (as I needed to grab something for one of my penpals), both being more ourselves than when we were in the meeting room. I liked being in this new city with a new friend, even a fleeting one.
Today was another reminder that putting yourself out there is the right thing to do in a foreign place, overseas or not. Throwing yourself into any surrounding opportunities. With volunteer work can come skills, friendships, life experience and that ‘I contributed‘ feeling.
Although the next volunteer intake wasn’t till September I was pretty excited to flex some empathy. The only problem I could see was fitting the 36 hours training (over 3 weeks) around any existing job and getting over the initial fear of a high risk person calling.. The thing Amy and I confided in each other was how scary it sounded and what a humongous responsibility lay on your shoulders when you put the headset on. Trying to guide someone in the right direction in the best way you know how. Does anyone ever feel ready for that?