We’re 21 and 22, and We Still Don’t Know What We’re Doing

Last week, I talked to my brother on the phone for an hour. Most of you won’t find this particular fact interesting at all… unless you know me and my brother. We’ve always had this odd relationship. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it’s not the typically brother and sister relationship. We’re 22 months apart, meaning all of his prospective girlfriends where my best friends, and all of my prospective boyfriends were his. Kind of created a bit of a jumbled mess in high school… but we’re past that now.

I’m Type A, he’s not. But we’re both extremely competitive, which is sort of a problem when you’re so close in age. My competition was him, and his—me. We have completely different plans for our lives. Other than parents, competition and our love of talking about absolutely nothing, we don’t have a ton in common. We’ve never really been the type to just hang together all the time. We hang out whenever we are buying the ‘rent’s birthday/Christmas presents and whenever we’re stuck at holiday parties together. I was thrilled when he decided to go to Alabama (except for the fact that he did, in fact, copy my decision), but when he came home that first weekend I bawled like a baby—and everyone at the football game that night can tell you that. He and his friends would rather do weird guy stuff while me and my friends watch Friends. He cheats at card games, while I’d rather play fair (you know you do).

He’s weirdly identical to dad, except I am too. But we’re not identical to each other. I look like mom and he acts like mom. I do too, but not as much as him. He can talk forever about stocks and all that fun stuff, while I’d much rather tell you about my newest plans. He knows that when I get stressed out, I’m likely to stop eating, stop sleeping, work like a maniac, call mom in tears and still manage to online shop. He on the other hand will find every way in the world to procrastinate and then somehow finish on time. He likes Alabama, and he loves Ardmore. I, on the other hand, am seeking to start my career elsewhere, particularly a large city on the opposite side of the country, but I digress… He wants a house and a car, but I’d rather have a cute apartment garden and call it a day. I don’t care for yard work but he jams on the lawnmower.

Now, we’re both single, beginning our careers/just finishing school, and we have no freaking clue who we are. I know that I am Kaitlin, and he is Kyler and that we are co-existing on this earth at the same time for some reason. So the other night, I called home to talk to my mom, and she wasn’t there. Normally, I’d settle for dad (if you knew my dad, you would understand why talking on the phone with him is settling. He doesn’t quite understand how to, you know, hold a conversation). But dad was with mom on one of their “dates.”

So, I talked to Kyler. (Which isn’t settling but he’s normally busy and probably isn’t interested in my complaints of the day) Kyler and I don’t talk about normal brother-sistery things. We never have, and I don’t think we ever will. But when I called the other day and he was the one of the other line, we talked about life. Particularly, my life because I was the one who called and if I call, I usually have something on my mind. So I spilled my guts, and he listened. Then we hung up and he went to the gym. Two days later, he calls me and he spills his guts. I listened and then I went to bed.

But his exchange was a little different than mine because he thanked me for being an example for him. Yeah, that threw me for a curve ball too. He’s my older brother. So, my response was number one to thank him for thanking me because let’s be honest, it’s nice when you hear something like that. Then my other response was, “I don’t have it all together.” Then, we had an hour conversation (if not longer) about how all our lives, we’ve thought we were expected to have it all together by 22. To have the job, not relying on mom and dad for money, have a long-term relationship (if not engaged or married already) and etc.

No, our parents did not lay the ground work for this. I’m pretty positive mom and dad have told us you will not have it all together, so stop freaking out when you realize you’re wrong (or in the words equivalent to that). With the evolution of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we see the best of everyone. I don’t put a picture on Instagram without first thinking, I really love today’s outfit or look how artsy my cup of coffee looks. When I post on Facebook, it’s to share the next big thing that’s happening in my life. When I post on Twitter, it’s the day’s thoughts (the good or funny ones of course). But we don’t publicize the struggles. I don’t post on Instagram when my hair is looking especially bad or I’m feeling a sweatpants day because those skinny jeans are just too difficult to deal with. I don’t post on Facebook when my paper ended up getting a grade lower than I wanted or when mom is right again when I really, really don’t want her to be. Twitter is about as honest as it gets on social media, but even there you’ll only see “I’m having a really bad day” or “#KaitlinProbs.”

So basically, my brother and I came to the conclusion that at 21/22, we thought we’d have a lot of this stuff figured out. And we don’t. And that’s kind of disappointing. We thought we’d already be through all this “struggling to survive” and we’d be hitting the good part where you know stuff and aren’t just guessing. But really, we’re just at the beginning of the trial and error stage and that’s an exhausting thought. I’m 21 and he’s 22, and we don’t have it all together.

We still don’t know how to budget, and I don’t know how to file my own taxes. My keys still fall behind the counter. The gym is still too far away from my bed, and I still don’t know how to drive (honestly). And if I had any clue how to fill out medical forms properly, I wouldn’t be the girl in the doctor’s office calling my mom. I don’t understand why somedays my body can work on just 4 hours of sleep, but when I get a full-night’s rest I’m groggy all day. I don’t know how to cook bacon without getting popped by hot grease, and I don’t understand apartment leases or why some don’t come with washers and dryers. I have hundreds of photos I keep meaning to get printed that are 5 years old. Why do my fruit smoothies contain 400 calories and a chocolate-chocolate chip muffin only has 250? I don’t know where Mr. Right is, but I hope he stays away long enough for me to put pictures of my friends and family in these frames instead of the creepy photos that come in them and long enough for me to learn how to get important work done without my carpet being combed in the same direction (weird, I know. Don’t judge me).

Why do I have emails about life insurance and 401k plans when I can barely afford to feed myself and put gas in my car? Why is the healthy stuff so expensive and the unhealthy stuff so tasty? Why can’t my dog live with me in my apartment and why can’t he be a normal dog that doesn’t eat doors and household furnishings? And oh my gosh, does the list go on!

Some days I really think my 10 year old cousin knows more about life than I do. But the good news is, we both know a lot now that we didn’t know 5 years ago or even just a month ago. We’re learning, and the really good news is: we’re learning at a rapid pace! I think that’s where we all get confused. We see these people that have everything together, but really they’re just putting pieces to the puzzle together and we can only see that one piece. If I had a clue why we had to wonder around this world trying to figure out life instead of having an owner’s manual, I’d be a millionaire and could pay someone to cook my bacon. But what fun would that be? To know it all? Let me tell you some of the fondest memories I have with friends are when things went wrong.

So the point of this blog is to A.) say thank you to my brother for helping me realize life isn’t about having it all together. B.) point out that he is, in fact, the best oldest brother and all of you should be jealous—hehe. And finally, C.) note that one day I will in fact know how to do the previous things listed (except maybe for the chocolate chocolate chip muffin thing…I’d rather keep thinking it’s healthier). So have fun not having your life together (and maybe post about it) because isn’t life really fun when you aren’t perfect?

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Mirror Mirror on the Wall…

Not gonna lie…2014 was not my year. I had a great year, don’t get me wrong. But I felt like I was constantly fighting an uphill battle…

About midway through 2014, I realized I didn’t really like the person I saw in the mirror. I really struggled to find exactly who I was and who I wanted to be. I struggled with expectations and stereotypes. I struggled with anxiety and control. I had to re-dream my dreams. I struggled with my past and struggled with planning my future.

It’s kind of ironic, you know. When things turn in your direction and your dreams start coming true…all of a sudden there is a fear that will nearly paralyze you. I’m not really sure how to explain it, but as soon as I realized some of my dreams were within my grasp, I started questioning my judgement. Do I really want this? What if this really happens?

I dream of a life outside of my comfort zone. I dream of a big city big enough to handle my personality where I can see so many different faces and cultures on a daily basis. I dream of a career that is ever changing.

When the groundwork for this dream started being laid and everything started moving really fast, I thought about backing out. There are a lot of reasons that I started thinking maybe I would be happy staying here, living in Alabama, working here. That has never been my dream. I’ve never dreamt of living in a big house with the white-picket fence and two kids and a lot of money in the bank. That’s a great dream, it’s the American dream. But it’s not my dream.

It sounds crazy, I know, that I would dream of living in an apartment with no car. It sounds crazy, I know, that I don’t want kids until after I accomplish most of my career goals. It sounds crazy, I know, but that’s my dream.

While its OK and even great to want those things, it’s just not what I want. It’s difficult to want different things because honestly a lot of people don’t understand. Most of the time, I don’t know if my parents understand. I know it hurts people to think that I want to leave. Trust me, my dad has told me the crime rates, how expensive it is, how much I really wouldn’t like it. I wouldn’t expect anything less from him. I am daddy’s little girl, after all.

But those are the thoughts I started having when I realized my dreams were coming true. I started thinking maybe I do want the ring, the husband, the white-picket fence with 2 kids right out of college. Maybe I do want those things.

But that’s when I really started becoming unhappy and when I really started getting anxious about everything. When I started changing my dreams to accompany those things. Well instead of New York, I can go to Nashville. I can have the house, the car, the southern culture, and the city. I started playing these mind games with myself. In my mind, I was going to have my cake and eat it too. But in reality, I was settling. I was settling for an easier path. A path without uncertainty. A path that I would have complete control over and would be very comfortable.

2014 taught me a lot of things. It taught me people are not always who they say they are. It taught me that it is, in fact, possible to go 3 weeks on less than 5 hours of sleep each night. It taught me how important sleep truly is to our health. It taught me that going to the doctor when you first get sick is better than waiting it out. It taught me that being alone is ok and that it is possible to be happy and alone. It is actually possible to be happier when you are alone. It taught me that a pair of shoes can in fact change your life. It taught me that saving money is important, but what’s the point in having money if you don’t enjoy a little bit of it. It taught me that losing someone is difficult and that death is really, really hard. It taught me that liquid and electronics do not mix. (It actually taught me that in 2012 too). It taught me that if you’re brave enough to ask, you’ll find a lot more opportunities presented to you. It taught me that it’s ok to brag on yourself sometimes. It taught me that I am my harshest critic. It taught me flowers can in fact turn your day around. It taught me that no matter how many people you have pushing against you, you always have at least double that pulling for you. It taught me vacations are nice but there’s no bed as comfortable as the one in my apartment. It taught me I spend an unreasonable amount of money on coffee, and that’s ok. It taught me how much I truly miss running. It taught me that sometimes you have to take a blind leap of faith to get the rewards. It taught me that there is a time to say goodbye. It taught me some of the best friends are made over cheap margaritas and Mexican food. It taught me that if you ask the Lord for it, he will grant your request according to His will. It taught me that Christmas trees are in fact meant to stay up year round. It taught me that my health is one of the greatest blessings in life. It taught me that losing your voice for football before a presentation is in fact worth it. It taught me that it is ok to be selfish, especially when it comes to your dreams.

But most of all, 2014 taught me that if I’m brave enough to dream it, brave enough to ask for it, brave enough to pursue it and brave enough to fight for it, my dreams will come true.

I am grateful for the struggle that was 2014. Because now I can start 2015 with a clean slate, and I can look in the mirror and be happy with what I see.

I am very, very blessed and this year, most of all, has reminded me of that over and over. So for 2015, I’m not making any big new year’s resolutions. I want to get back to running and to keep my life a bit more organized (and my room). I want to travel, a lot. I want to be spontaneous. I want to say yes to more opportunities. I want to spend more time building relationships with people who dream as big as I do. I want to spend less time worrying about minimal issues. And most of all, I want to spend more time learning who I am, what I want, and what I’m capable of.

Happy New Year!