I will have to preface this post with an apology. I was in Ann Arbor this weekend (where my alma mater, old friends and colleagues are still located) and failed to see 9/10 of every place or person I should have. I am very sorry for not seeking you out, or for canceling our plans. It might sound silly, but I am simply just not ready.
See, in Ann Arbor, I was successful. I held (possibly too many) jobs, had friends, went out around town, sampling restaurants and happy hours, and my outlook on life was one of confidence, bluster and, I now know, naivety. I simply assumed that my hard work in my jobs, my good grades and my connections in town would get me a job post-graduation. I thought I was smart enough to beat the LSAT with a month and a half of studying. I had no idea that simply succeeding in one city, for four years in an environment built to push 20 year olds to succeed, would fail to guarantee me a 180 LSAT or a career path or even something as simple as a job fitting my education.
When I pulled onto US-23, cruising past Brighton and into houses full of students drinking Oberon on rooftops, I realized quickly that I was in no way prepared to be back in the land of Maize and Blue. I met with Sean for lunch and hid in the back corner booth for the entirety of the encounter, trying to make sure I wouldn’t have to run into a former coworker (not you, Jordan. It was great to see you!) or roommate and be forced to explain that I wasn’t really working at the moment, no I wasn’t going to law school, how is your 6-figure salary and full-ride to Medical School?
I had an hour to kill between lunch and babysitting (the reason I was in AA), and instead of spending it visiting old friends and coworkers, I went to Whole Foods and walked around the prepared foods aisle. I found my coveted dark chocolate ginger, grabbed some fizzy water and showed up early to my babysitting gig, despite the fact that the boys I would be babysitting for the next 12 hours weren’t even home yet.
The next day, I cancelled my plans to go to coffee and yoga with a friend, where I would see even more old coworkers and friends and the thought of which had my heart pounding, palms clammy. I texted Jake, Michelle, Matt, Sean and my mom trying to figure out what the hell was happening. I LOVE YOGA. I love my friends! I love(d) Ann Arbor! What was this feeling that I was experiencing, and for the love of god, WHY was I experiencing it?
I had lengthy conversations with each, and eventually reached my conclusion: Pride. Good old fashioned, strong as hell pride, fortified by years of success and coddling, and powered by a personal image of myself that had taken time, naivety and hard work. When I was in Ann Arbor, I was a smart, successful, strong and self-assured woman. I was confident and shining, and someone once told me that when I walked into a room, was noticed simply because of my presence (if you still read this blog, thank you for that compliment because it is the greatest I have ever gotten to date and on my off days of which there seem to be many lately, I remember this). And now, I am without career, without direction, and a seemingly endless failure in a stream of job searches or career paths or future education and if you ever want to know how low your self-confidence really goes, just quit your job, move in with your parents and spend your Friday nights watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy.
That girl – the one in Ann Arbor with the jobs and the plans and the shining eyes – is dead, or at the very least, groggily slumping into a months-long coma. And facing that old version of myself was a shockingly difficult confrontation, one with pride and failure all wrapped up into a painful package, that I never realized I would run into before I entered the city’s confines.
That’s as far as I’ve gotten. I don’t have a way to fix it, nor any way to deal with these feelings of self-doubt and confusion. I’m working on it actively, looking for careers and trying to convince myself that I am not only this year – my life and my journey is the sum of my experiences, not just the most recent struggle. That said, I still don’t think I’ll be returning to Ann Arbor anytime soon. I need some success first. I need my break.