Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

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How to know yourself

Every so often you come to this point in your life where you look back and realize things haven't gone quite like you wanted them to, or quite like they should have. In these moments you reevaluate how you got where you did, and how you can rework your life to get yourself back on track. Our brown bag speaker today, John Francis, said that you should always be looking five, ten, fifteen years down the road just to have a goal of where you might want to be, that way you'll always be on the lookout for the opportunities you want.
I talked a lot of things over with my mom this past weekend, trying to work out why I'm unhappy with this job, why I don't like this city. She helped me realize that one of the reasons I'm unhappy here is because I'm barely interacting with any people. A lot of the work I'm doing is research based, and me being in this stupid windowless office doesn't help an iota. And although I know I want to be involved in editing, helping people with writing and bringing the work they do to the light, maybe being an editor at National Geographic is not the way I should be going about it. My mom encouraged me to look into some of the corporate foundations out there, that have their own newsletters, and that have the resources to make changes for a lot of people. Either that, or maybe go into marketing for an organization like Red Cross. At any rate, I have a lot of thinking to do about where I should take my life from here. More and more I'm feeling the pressure to get a graduate degree, and I think one in business would suit me and my goals.

On an interpersonal level, I'm also reevaluating what I need. I've been away from home for so long and I miss it far more than I thought I would. I miss being close to my friends, especially to Bonnie, and of just having that close connection with people who you celebrate birthdays and holidays with. I'm rethinking whether or not I want to be in New York, as much as I absolutely loved it there. I know almost for SURE that I don't want to be in DC; this place just doesn't inspire me. I think often about the places that have turned me on as a writer - Yosemite especially - and about the pieces of writing that I have changed my life, like Annie Dillard's "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek", Gretel Ehrlich's "Solace of Open Spaces" and then I look at the places I've gone and it pains me to see how disparate they are.
Talking with my mom also made me realize that I have certain strongly held beliefs about what I want and don't want in a relationship, and the people that I have fallen in love with thus far in my life have for one reason or another not quite fit into those beliefs. Which isn't to say that I don't care about them deeply; I do, and in the strongest way I know, but it is to say that I need to step back from this whole "love" thing and reaffirm my life values. I do still think that if you love someone you've got to throw yourself into it, but when things don't work out, you should know how to collect the parts of you that you've put in, and know how to put it back together so you can still live fully and functionally.

I used to think that people who always changed their minds about things were weak and vacillating. Now I'm realizing that it takes more strength, more of the ability to know yourself, to say "this isn't working for me." and to take what you've been through, mold it to what you can use, and to move on.
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