The following is a guest post from my good friend, Michal, who is a twentysomething world explorer currently navigating life in the land of Israel.
When I first volunteered to write this guest-post for Julie, (by the way, it was over a month ago… Sorry Jules!!! ) I was intimidated by my freedom in selecting the subject matter. I could write about anything!? Anything at all?! Where would I start? I began to go over several potential subjects in my head. The Israeli political situation? I wrote a piece on it for Julie after our elections a year ago. I re-read my old post and found that all the worst-case scenario predictions I made have come true and then some. The situation is very depressing and not something I want to write about. I thought of more subjects to write about, (business, travel, friends, weight loss etc…) but nothing really struck me as worthy until one day last week a friend and I decided to watch some classic YouTube videos. Part of a classic video that I had seen many times struck me in a new way and kind of hit close to home. While viewing the always hilarious “David After Dentist” video about a little boy being driven home from the dentist while still under the effects of novacane or gas or drugs that he had been given. At one point in his ramblings he looks straight into the camera and says, “Is this real life??” His father laughs and assures him that this is in fact real life.
I took David’s question differently this time. I think this is a question that is on the mind of many 20-somethings. After we graduate college we enter an unknown world. For many of us this was the first time in our lives where there was not a definite framework ahead of us (after middle school came high school then college etc…) The 9-5 world was looming and although some were ready to go out there and make tracks in the corporate world, others were dreading the day of their first punch in on the time clock. (Personally, I was so fearful of 9-5 and the office life that after graduation I took off to South America for 4 and a half months by myself with a backpack, but that is a story for another post…) A year and a half after I received my diploma I began working at an office. While it is not as terrible as I thought, I still get nauseated at the fact that I may be doing this for a long long time. As I have settled into the 9-5 routine over the past year and a half I find myself asking, “Is this it?” Has my real life started? After having many discussions with my other twenty-something friends I find that many of them are asking themselves the same thing. While many of us enjoy our jobs most of us are not sure if we see it as a career (or maybe just me). Those of us who are not in serious relationships wait for that to start as well (yet another subject for a later blog post)
So when does the elusive real life start? Is it when you are married? When you have kids? Could it be a career milestone, when we feel we have found our place in the professional world? When we feel settled? As someone who grew up in several countries with family all over the world, I often worried that I would never stop asking that question. I thought that I would always feel somewhat lost and while I was living in one place I would always miss another. After having resigned myself to the fact that I would always feel this way I saw a Visa commercial and while I am loathe to admit that I got an epiphany as a result of a Visa ad I did. At the end of the commercial, the announcer asks, “What are you waiting for, a written invitation to live life? You have one; it’s called a birth certificate.” This line struck me as profound. (Damn you brilliant advertising geniuses!!) Real life for me began on December 4th, 1984 and will hopefully continue for a very long time. While there will be times that I and many others of my generation will feel lost and discombobulated life is constantly moving and it is best to enjoy it while you can. In the words of one man who I considered a mentor in high school (and whose advice I should begin taking again), “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”