The Year in Rearview

I have reached a wonderful milestone. Today is my 2 year Blogaversary.

Let’s go ahead and pretend that actually is a word.

On this date 2 years ago I started Boehmcke’s Human Condition. And over the course of that time I have written over 100 posts that have been seen over 12,000 times in 82 different countries. And I think that’s pretty cool.

So a big thank you is owed to everybody that has been reading and providing the great feedback. I love to hear what you have to say and I love to write so hopefully we can keep that nice little relationship going.

I also hit another interesting milestone recently. I have now officially been out of college longer than I was in college. (And for those of you doing the math, yes that does mean I did 4.5 years at college thank you very much. And just so you know, it was a CHOICE to stay an extra semester.)

But it is now over 4.5 years since I was a full time student with all of the trappings that went along with that title.

It is a surreal thing to realize that being in college is a rapidly receding memory in my head. I think perhaps because college was a time of clearly defined achievements and landmarks. College had smaller indicators of where you were and how you were doing. There were individual denotations of success or failure. Grades, tests, homework, rankings, etc.

The most clearly defined time markers in college were those built into the calender. Your life is broken up into semesters, and breaks, and levels, and years. Whereas once you get out into the non-university world, there is no more structure. We are all operating in our own structures, in our own timelines, in our own little sphere of influence.

Being a student means a year full of quick starts and hard stops, abrupt course corrections that let everyone know exactly where they are at all times.

I used to be able to quickly and easily say; “Oh that happened junior year,” or “This happened during Spring break.” But no longer. Now it’s, “I think that was last Fall” or “Was that really 3 Christmases ago?”

Since I have graduated from college I have worked at 4 different jobs, for 4 different employers, in 4 very different industries, in 4 different parts of Manhattan. Those jobs essentially have become my freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years.

So for me keeping track of time has been a very physical and spatial relationship. I have been able to recall memories by the office I was sitting in, and the people I had around me, or where we went after work for drinks. I’m not sure how my friends who have worked the same job for so long keep track of time. I wonder if it just blends together for them

I think that is why time after college seems to slip by so seamlessly. We ask ourselves where did the time go because we really have no idea what we have done. We have no grades, projects, or tests to show for it.

We remember our marriages, births, and deaths - actual huge physical changes that relocate you or detach someone from you. But those become the only signifiers on our road of life from college on.

I think that is what has frustrated or scared me about living in the adult world. That unless you create them for yourself, your road will be devoid of landmarks minus the ones that other people put there.

When I was in college people used to love to tell my friends and I about “the real world.” Those older than us would tell us things are really different in the “real world.” And it’s not all sunshine and roses in “the real world.”

I never understood that.

For so many of my friends who worked full time and went to school, or supported themselves, or had a spouse, or a child, all while in school, how much more real could it get?

I think what I’ve come to realize is that leaving college doesn’t put you in the “real” world, it just puts you in the “adult” world. I know plenty of people who graduated college and quickly slipped into a very unreal world of irresponsibility, pure dumb luck, and blatant stupidity.

So this real world? Well, I’m not even sure what you are talking about. But this adult world. It’s different. I realize that having no homework has been the greatest burden off my life ever. But I also realize that nobody is going to remind me to pay my insurance, seek me out to offer tutoring, or check in with me to make sure I’m on the right career path.

This adulthood thing, it seems to be about self actualization. Nobody pushes you or pulls you along. If you are lucky, you have friends and mentors who will be there for you. But the only person who is going to be extremely invested in your success is you. And I think that’s an easy thing to forget as we slip into our relationships, jobs, and never-ending routines.

The time I spent in college was filled with tremendous growth but probably not as much exploration as I would have liked. It was probably because I was scared or still getting used to operating in a new environment as my own capable being.

But this time since, this batch of years afterwards, has become a time of rapid exploration. I feel like  I am truly taking the reigns of my own life, truly trying to plot a course, whereas in the past I kind of just felt like I was always along for someone else’s ride.

Does this make me full of advice? No. This makes me full of learnings. All I keep learning is how little I know. If I really think about how much more there is to know, it’s quite depressing. So I try not to think about how much thinking I have ahead of me.

Who knows, maybe I will be full of advice eventually. Maybe the future will see me do things I never even considered. And maybe then I will have insight to share. But just to be sure, maybe check back in another 4.5 years from now.