What 22 Means

More than two months after my graduation, it is finally starting to sink in that, well, grown up life is starting.

As I toil away at a kitchen job (which I love) to save money for moving to Paris (which I’m super excited about), I’m starting to realize, or rather, it is slowly starting to dawn on me that I can’t live like this long term. I won’t ever be able to pay rent with a just-above-minimum-wage kitchen job, no matter how much I love it. Taking care of babies as an au pair is a great short term plan but not an end goal in itself. Soon I will need to choose a city, whether this side of the Atlantic or the other, and determine to stay there, at least for a while.

That’s a conflicting thing for me to realize. I am a person with a two year attention span. I graduated high school a year early. It’s a miracle I stayed at my undergrad school all four years, and that only happened because I took six months in Europe in the middle of it. I have a short attention span, but I also have a strong desire for roots, a sense of home. I love nothing more that being a regular at a coffee shop or bar or lunch place. And I also have dreams, things I want to accomplish that don’t involve constantly living out of a backpack.

In other words, I want to start my grown up life, but it also fills me with trepidation.

And I know I’m not alone in this.

When I originally got this job in Paris, I got all gungho, screw-America, hardcore, saying “If I stay for five years I can naturalize and become a French citizen.” And I’m still not ruling that out. Who knows what will happen. But as my departure date nears, I’m starting to realize just what that means. I’d be 28 by the time I got that EU passport. And there are things I want to do before I’m 28.

Time to get cracking, as it were.

Living in Europe is one of those things I want to do. And it will be a year(+) filled with valuable experiences that will inform my writing and my worldview for the rest of my life. I will have time to write more, and in an inspiring place. And be able to travel easily and economically.

But there are things I want to do that don’t involve Europe. Like get my masters, or a grown up job in publishing (or something), or start a bakery.

And, sure, I’m only 22 and I should enjoy this extended youth our culture now affords people my age. But it’s also kind of a grace period. A friendly buffer period in which to figure things out.

I think I’ll take advantage of it.

So as I visit Chicago this weekend to apply for my French visa, I am developing a huge crush on this city. I don’t think that lessens my anticipation of excitement for Paris, but it makes me feel more secure in the possibility of coming back Stateside.

Does that make me less awesome for living in Paris if I’m not 100% planning on staying there forever? I don’t think so. It’s a perspective thing. And I like it.

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2 thoughts on “What 22 Means

  1. Dream on little girl….or should I say woman !!!!! The world is your apple right now. As I add my advise,( as all grandparents should ) put in much thought, energy and love to those around you and recognize opportunities to do for others….little things and big things. If you do that you will always have inner peace and appreciate and love your world. Stay close to the Lord Claire. You have so much goodness to give away to others. God Bless you always. Grandma.

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