Thoughts on DC

Today (when I drafted this) marks three years since I packed my bags and flew to DC to start graduate school. I planned to stay for 21 months and then return to Portland. But, that’s obviously not the path I’ve chosen. I still find myself conflicted about my my decision to live here and my desire to return to the PNW. But if I’m being honest, I actually find myself conflicted about a lot of things – sometimes it’s as if there are two people living inside of me.

One half of me is a rule follower. The half that got (almost) straight As in high school, makes sure instructions are executed correctly, can’t help but show up on time, has anxiety, is shy, disciplined and principled and thinks that a good, successful life can be achieved by making conventional choices. (This is the side I try to project to the world).

The other half of me is more tempestuous. The half that hurls myself at things I want and things I believe with a reckless fire. The half that is terrified of heights but somehow repels over cliffs, jumps into rivers, rides on the back of motorcycles through Mexico (sorry mom), embraces the opportunity to be a naked body double, and wants nothing less than to lead a conventional, safe life. (Maybe it’s immaturity but this half is where all my good stories come from).

I often try to rectify these two parts of my soul and just end up very confused. Should I be in DC, working with fantastic people, at a job that uses my mind (and degree) but also sometimes makes me feel like a hamster? Or should I be in the PNW where following convention doesn’t matter as much? Or should I be somewhere I haven’t even thought of yet doing something that isn’t even on my radar?

I’ve always been a girl with a plan. Working towards “the next thing” motivates me. I don’t know how I’ve done this, but anything I’ve ever REALLY wanted, I’ve somehow made happen – grad school, moving to DC, boys, a scooter, traveling, a marathon (while injured) etc. But the funny thing about life is that you can only plan so much. Now that school is done, I’ve struggled to find purpose in the everyday and find myself wanting to “plan my next step” in order to give my life more structure. I assume I’m not alone in this.

But I’m trying, for the next little bit (see, a plan) to actually embrace where I’m at in life – here in DC with a lot of questions. I don’t know if I’ll stay here or if I’ll return to the PNW or if I’ll end up somewhere else entirely. Rather than constantly having one foot out the door onto my next “goal,” I’m trying to embrace this moment – here, right now.

My initials are “ask” and  my middle name means wisdom. I remember my dad telling me at some point that “smart people challenge things and ask questions.” I’ve always had a lot of questions about what it means to live a “good life” and how I can make it happen. I strive to be a good person, keep a good job, hang out with good people, and invest in good things and I hope that those things together will help me live a good life – even if I don’t know where it will be or what it looks like exactly.

DC people, thanks for making this choice a good one. Portland people, thanks for making this decision a hard one. Cheers to three years and having many, many questions about life!

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