Last year, I graduated from law school and made the decision to postpone the bar exam and take the year off. A year off from what, you ask? Well, as it turns out, life.
Since I was 18, I have worked and/or been in school nearly every day. I was that weirdo who took summer classes, often held two jobs, and was in more extracurriculars than I could count. I took pride in being a “busy” person (until busy became a loaded word). Wasn’t it time for a break?
But my time off wasn’t just for traveling and visiting family, though I did plenty of that. The real trouble was that when I started law school, I knew exactly what I was going to do post-graduation. By the time I finished, all of those best-laid plans had been blown to absolute smithereens.
Everyone who thinks they have their life figured out take one step forward. Oh, Abra, so cute, but, no.
I turn 35 in just 27 days. This past year was supposed to be about figuring out what the second half of my life was going to look like. And what did I figure out? Would you believe absolutely nothing?
All I discovered in the past year is that, at least for me, taking a break meant stagnating. It wasn’t a completely lost year — I did add a few stamps to my passport and pass the bar exam — but the hard mental work of decision-making and goal-setting did not get done. It turns out the trick to moving forward is actually moving. Otherwise, you’re just in a voluntary limbo. Few people are so self-actualized that they can stand in one place without standing in a rut.
So what’s next?
A few weeks ago, I sat down and made a list of goals I want to accomplish in the next 12-months. If age 34 became the year of limbo, age 35 is going to be the year of moving forward.
Goal One: Take better care of myself physically. I started with the easy one and hired a personal trainer to help me get back in shape. When the octogenarian next to you can bench more than you can, it’s a deeply humbling experience.
Goal Two: Get my financial house in order. Like many people, I struggle with my finances. Beyond just spending less and saving more, I need to change the way I view money. For the past year, I’ve been using the Clarity Money and Albert apps to keep me accountable for my regular spending. And last week, I made the decision to only use cash until I can remold the way I think about my finances.
Goal Three: Take this blog back to the business of realness. At some point in the past year, I got caught up in what this blog will never be. I’ll never post gorgeous photos from exotic locales. I’ll never be the blogger who poses on a street corner in the perfect outfit, with the perfect hair (oh, the hair). And I’ll never be the blogger who exchanges quippy banter with designers and celebrities from the front row of Fashion Week.
But then, last month, it dawned on me that I never gave a damn about any of that before, so why should I care now? I became so trapped by what this blog won’t be, that I forgot what it was and what it should be again.
So I did two things. First, I spent an unfathomable sum of money on a designer and a developer to launch The Work Edit 2.0 (coming later this month). I swear, if I see one more font or Pantone color swatch…
Second, I went through the posts from two and three years ago to remind myself of what this blog looked like before law school looted and pillaged my psyche. It was then that I realized that this blog doesn’t need to be completely different. It doesn’t need be reinvented. It just needs to go back to basics. I’m never going to have one million Instagram followers, but in a post-Fyre Festival world, maybe that’s a good thing. I don’t have to do it their way in order to do it well. Now, I just have to figure out what my way looks like.
Goal Four: Figure out where I want to live. If I could be living anywhere tomorrow, where would it be? D.C. Duh. It is my Mecca, it is my mothership, it is the only place other than Montana that I will ever say felt like home. There’s just one enormous problem, well, two, really.
First, my boyfriend will not move. He mulls the idea from time-to-time and occasionally seems open to it. But I know this man, he’s not going anywhere. He has a life, close friends, a career, and he’s happy here. This prompts two deeply difficult, uncomfortable questions: Is there a way I can be both in D.C. and in WA? Or do I need to leave so bad that I have to go without him? Excuse me, I need a drink.
Second, my last two years in D.C. could be best described as perspective-altering verging on traumatic. I was stalked, threatened, and harassed. As a result, I developed panic attacks, and can no longer handle the levels of stress that I once bore easily.
Beyond that, the culture of Capitol Hill has changed a lot since I arrived in 2005. It’s less congenial, more vitriolic, and (as many of my friends report) more stressful by the minute. I ask myself daily, can you really go back? Would you survive this new, seemingly meaner, D.C.? Or is it time to do something else with your life?
There’s no good way to answer these questions. So I’m going to head back to D.C. for a few weeks and see if I can’t sort them out on site. Stay tuned.
Goal Five: Conquer the World. Just kidding, the first four are plenty for right now. Five will have to wait for later.