Wednesday, May 11, 2011

out of the dust

In the month since I last blogged, I finished up my job with the AP in Olympia, went home for about a week to visit, kind of went on a couple dates, and moved back to Seattle, at least temporarily.

Also got a job offer for a job that just doesn't feel right.

I'm feeling very directionless right now. It's an almost foreign feeling -- I've known I wanted to be a journalist since at least senior year of high school, when most of my friends waffled around and changed majors or mindsets or goals several times. Within journalism, I've had a very clearcut path: Accepted into the major freshman year, the Port Townsend internship fell into my lap, then the Seattle Times picked me, then Reuters in Chile, then graduation, then the AP. All incredible experiences, and all in a very neat and tidy succession. I never had to choose between one chance and another; the opportunities just presented themselves one at a time in an orderly fashion and were easily identifiable as the place I was meant to go.

But now, I have no idea. And it's terrifying. But not overtly so; it's that same vague dread and uneasiness at the future that I felt right after graduating, but stronger because I feel like I'm supposed to be more grown-up and responsible now. I've already had a real job -- I'm out on my own -- I have to keep ascending and maturing and making grown-up decisions, even when I don't want to.

So what's the grown-up decision now? I have a job offer for a yearlong spot at a paper in eastern Washington. I don't want it. Don't get me wrong; I'm glad I grew up in eastern Washington; I think it's beautiful, and I still love going home to visit. But I don't want to live there. I've spent the last three years trying to get away from that side of the state. Except for Spokane, there really doesn't seem to be anything promising for people my age. I don't want to take a job because it's safe and then never dare to break free from it. I'm only 22! This is the time of my life that I want to be off doing exciting things, while I'm young enough to be flexible and unattached and adaptive and enthusiastic and willing. This is not the time to settle down in the Palm Springs of Washington.

But I'm so anchor-less right now that I don't even have the discipline to sit down and really try to find jobs elsewhere. I don't know what to do with myself -- I haven't been so lacking in structure for probably six years. I've been unemployed for two-and-a-half weeks, with nothing to do but hang out with people and watch TV and climb. I think the last time I had that long a vacation from work and school was probably the summer after freshman year of high school. I've worked every summer since then, with usually two weeks or less in between school and internships. I don't do well when I'm just sitting around. I need structure, someone or something telling me what to do, or I just get lazy.

Oh balls. I just don't know what to do. Is it that I childishly/shallowly don't want to take this EWa job, or that it really doesn't feel right for me? Is the only grown-up option to take the job, even though I foresee nothing but loneliness, depression and lack of excitement in that place?

Moving is always going to be hard. I still want to do the foreign correspondent thing; that dream hasn't changed. But there's a degree of "is it worth it?" that has to be heard. Moving to Olympia was probably the hardest one yet, for a number of reasons, but I could always assure myself that it was worth it. I was working for the AP at 21 years old -- my first job out of college! Moving to a small town in eastern Washington is not something I could get excited or proud about. And no one will visit. People get that incredulous "oh man, that sucks" look on their faces when I tell them about the offer -- and I have that same face on when I talk or think about it.

Where's God in all of this? I wish he'd just tell me what to do in a really obvious way. Gideon got a wet fleece; how about a wet newspaper or something? I want this decision to come ready-made, so I don't have to risk making the wrong choice. I don't want to get stuck somewhere I'll be miserable for a year, but nor do I want to get stuck without a job, or with a non-journalism job. And this paper would be a good training ground; a good first job.

The talk at my church tonight was good. This series is about "where do I go from here?" so it was a good message for me to hear, but didn't have quite the explicit instructions that I was hoping for.

The music was good too. We sang this song, which I already loved, but it gave me new ideas tonight.

You make beautiful things,
you make beautiful things out of the dust

Made me wonder what God could make out of eastern Washington.

I guess we'll find out soon.

Love always,