The Five Year Plan

If you could go back to 2007 and ask me where I’d be in five years, I’d be talking so fast you’d never fully understand, but you’d know I was excited about my future. I was going to be graduated from the best journalism school in the nation, writing copy for brands like Budweiser and the St. Louis Cardinals at a huge, beautiful office in St. Louis for big bucks. I’d be living the life in my loft apartment in Kirkwood, walking my dog every day and having an endless among of time to spend with my friends and family.

Now, here I am, five years later, nearly crying at how wrong my predictions were. Yes, I did graduate from Mizzou’s prestigious school of journalism. I have a job. I live in an apartment, and I do walk my dog a few times a week. But it’s not my dream loft or dream job, and i’m too wore out to see friends by nightfall. The friends that I’ve kept, that is. But is it really a disappointment, or just the reality of my generation?

Have I short changed myself? Have I let fear get in the way of my dreams? Or was I wishful thinking from the start?

Who knows. What I know, is that I’m not the person I set out to be. Not implying I’m a negative version of my once hopeful self, but I don’t see myself living up to the potential I set out for when I walked across the stage at my high school graduation. I feel as though I’ve become one of many – the dreary, post-grads just trying to get by, still relying on mom and dad and anyone else willing to lend a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on or a devoted ear to listen.

I look at my dad, who started as an installer at 18, and has worked his way up through a fortune 500 company with little to no college education, while I am struggling to show off my strengths and make my value known. Here I am, attempting to be “independent,” while my dad was responsible for himself and my mother at a younger age. Here I am, baffled by the thought that people my age are raising children and buying houses, while I’m struggling to find $10 to see the Hunger Games before pay day. These colleagues and friends are mature, responsible, and reliable. Where does that leave me?

Don’t be mistaken, I am extremely grateful for the life I live. My loved ones are healthy; I made it out of college without debt; I’m gainfully employed. I have friends and family who love me, a boyfriend always available for encouragement and a dog who curls up to me when I need it most, but I can’t help but think something is missing.

Who knows – maybe i’ll find my missing piece at the bottom of a glass of wine, the last bite of an ice cream cone, or even lying on a beach somewhere in the sun. but when I do, you’ll be the first to know.

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