I was rereading my birthday reflection from last year and seriously, not five minutes later I again heard my father ask me, “Do you feel older?” I informed him that he asked me the exact same thing last year, so we agreed that my answer must actually be “Yes” since it’s been a full year since he asked me, but also that he needs to get out more.
(By the way, this post is just me talking about myself, so if you’re here for news or commentary, sorry! But hey, I might end up saying something poignant about life—you never know.)
Year 25 was definitely unlike any previous year of my life. It was the first full year that I did not live my life according to prescription. There were the 18 years of grade school and the 6 of higher education, and then I got this wacky year where nothing was according to plan. What a good thing that was!
You know, I could easily bemoan the economy and the challenges of the job search, and certainly there are those out there eager to mock me for it. A full year has passed and you still don’t have a real job, Zack? Yeah, it’s true. Get over it. It’s actually been a great year, because I’ve had to find a way to make meaning of my life despite not fitting the mold I’d always had in my head for how it was supposed to progress.
It’s fun having a September birthday, because I can measure years of my life parallel to school years. This was my first non-school year (and hopefully my last). But the Fall still brought very important changes, because it was at the beginning of October when I launched the redesign of my blog. Two weeks later I was reporting from the National Equality March. Suddenly, I felt like I had a legitimate blog and I was connecting with other bloggers and activists who were excited about my work. It might not sound like much, but those changes really set the tone for the year that went on to include the Prop 8 Trial, Creating Change, working for the Central PA LGBT Center, developing the Queer and Queerer Podcast with Peterson, and Netroots Nation.
In some ways, it’s kind of felt like an intermission, but in other ways, it’s just been a refreshing break. I think we all need to take time to explore life and find ourselves in spite of what anyone wants for us. Heck, it wasn’t what I wanted for myself, but I definitely have no regrets!
In addition to being a test of creativity in the absence of structure, it was also a test of resiliency. If you had asked me on September 8, 2009 if I would still be confident and optimistic if a year later I still didn’t have a job that put my degree to use, I probably wouldn’t have been thrilled with speculating. But here I am, and I have so much work to be proud of, even if I’m not “on track.”
Truly, we spend our whole lives reconciling who we are against who others want us to be. In any of these struggles, we come out (often literally) stronger because we believed in ourselves. I can look back on year 25 as a year of transition, but a year in which I stayed true to myself in spite of circumstance. And now I can look forward to a new quarter-century with a piece of myself that I never would have known I had.
Cheers to you my friends and readers, and everyone who has been a part of my life! Cheers to life! Cheers to making it work!