December is here after all. The festive but final month of the year. Here Germany it has been snowing since the very beginning of December, and I’m living in a true winter wonderland right now.
Although it’s so pretty and Christmassy outside, December also forces me to reflect on the almost past year. 2012 has been an exciting year for me. On my daily walks through the snowy woods however, I realize that this year totally didn’t turn out the way I thought it would.
If you had asked me what my future life would look like back on that warm June day of my high school graduation in 2007, I never would have assumed my life to be like this in 2012. I would have said that I had long graduated from university in 2012. That I had an actual job. That I would probably be married. That I would live in a nice apartment (which I could afford due to my real job) in a cool city.
I postponed graduation. I’m still living from hand to mouth – working my butt off one month, spending all the money traveling the next. I’m still constantly broke, and even have to ask my parents for financial support to be able to pay my health insurance. Above all, I moved back in with my parents.
Yes, after more than four years of living by myself, I’m back at a place where my mom can complain about my room looking messy. After years of being sort of grown-up, I’m suddenly a kid again.
I had to make this decision for my studies and because of my money issues. When I live in a city like Siegen (where I’m enrolled in university) I have to live in shared apartments, because single apartments are too expensive. My flat mates in those apartments are usually so much fun to be around that I spend most of time drinking coffee in the kitchen with them instead of focusing on my university duties. Also, to be able to live in a bigger city I would have to work a part time job to pay the rent and living expenses. Thus, I normally end up working half my time at a supermarket register, and hanging out in the kitchen with my flat mates the other half. It would be simply impossible to write my Master’s thesis under such conditions.
So I had to be strict with myself. I had to move back to the tiny village, where I can see my elementary school class room out of the living room window. A village where almost no people of my age live. Where the most exotic thing you could eat is pizza. A village with no cafés or a library. Where the street lighting is switched off at 11.30 at night.
To make it sound less bad I call it my “writer’s exile”. This might be a euphemism, though.
I know I’m here to write my final dissertation. I’m here to (re-)focus. I’m living in the quiet middle of nowhere to finally hear myself think again. I need to figure out what I want.
On Christmas I will meet up with my friends from school. Friends who don’t live at home anymore. They are studying abroad from Paris to China, make internships in Silicon Valley, travel through New Zealand, and live in metropolises. We don’t see each other a lot, so every year we have a Christmas reunion to find out what we are up to right now.
But the question “What are you doing right now?” is one of the scariest you could ask me at the moment. How I’m supposed to answer? “I’m taking two more semesters” – “I moved back in with my parents” – “I have no clue what to do after graduation” – “The ‘person’ I spent most of my time with right now is my dog”.
Everything I achieved so far gets blurry, because I feel like I took a huge step backwards.
However, my winter walks with our dog Lucky (Lou-kee) lately helped me to review my life at least a little more positively. This is a temporary phase. Like winter. Everything seems cold and still right now, but the snow will melt eventually. And although I’m in an old place today, I’ve also been to a whole lot of new places this past year. Actual places and figurative places.
I still think I will blush when my friends ask me where I live right now. But in the end – we are all just 20-somethings caught in-between temporary solutions and the desire to finally know where we are headed. We’re all waiting for a sign – the perfect job offer, the right partner, the once-in-a-lifetime-chance to go abroad. Our lives are simply temporary right now.
It’s the curse of our generation. It’s the chance of our generation.
Maybe it’s even the most exciting thing not knowing what comes next. I truly have no idea where I will be this time next year. There might not even be any snow.
I have to remind myself daily that comparing myself to others is what makes me unhappy. I have to accept temporary solutions – knowing they aren’t ideal, but most likely the best I could do for my future right now. I have to come to terms with the things that pass… This winter, the insecurity, the feeling of deadlock: It won’t last forever! I’m looking forward to what comes next.