20something profile: A.L.
Being a twentysomething is not all about having it all together. The best experiences that I’ve had are a result of making a mess, evolving, and learning about myself.
The promise handed down to us in one way, shape or form is that if we’re decent people who work hard, we’ll eventually have it all together with careers, relationships, and family. That is the modern variation of the white picket fence.
I didn’t achieve major self-actualization until I stopped believing this and accepted the current economic climate not with the mindset of a victim, but with the mindset of a self-starter.
In 2012, I found myself with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and staring down a barrel of job applications. And it wasn’t for lack of effort — I’d done all the right things like studying abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico, a marketing internship with Chik-fil-A, becoming a news reporter for my school radio station, and publishing a book among other things.
Post-college life was humbling and frightening. I’d gone from being a distinct fish in the sea to being surrounded by hundreds of fish just like me. I had a few positions that helped me to build on the skills that I already had with writing as well as web and graphic design. More importantly, they toughened me up and allowed me to gain skills additional skills that I didn’t even know I needed.
And most importantly, they helped me to figure out what I needed instead of what I wanted. Because I’d known what I’d wanted for most of my life: to write and be a broadcast journalist. But what I actually needed had been staring me in the face for quite some time: the time spent studying Spanish at home and abroad, the people put in my life like my Honduran Tia, and the positive affirmations I received for my poetry and book.
Through my job search, I realized that survivors are trailblazers. They are proactive instead of reactive. I gradually became a producer, not just a consumer. Make something people want, my mom would always tell me. Whether that is writing, music, film, food, fashion — if people want it, you’ll always be in business.
That leads me to where I am now: blogging about fantasy and sci-fi at Gods & Galaxies and focusing on short fiction. I’m also looking forward to teaching a classroom of bright young things in a couple of weeks as I pursue an alternative path to teaching certification for bilingual education.
At 23, I have accepted that I don’t need to have it all together yet — I’m still being formed, shaped, and influenced, and through that I am an influencer, a shaper, and a mover. This is a time for risks and reinvention — to learn something new and build something better by becoming an expert in a few things.
Passions and needs determine our strengths. From these, and a shake of sweet suffering on the side, my life means something and allows me to fully experience the sound of freedom.