Figuring out what I was going to do after college was easy enough for me. I studied Russian for four years (the language and, more importantly, the culture) and while I've traveled quite a bit in my life, my immediate bucket list was to finally get to the biggest country in the world. Thankfully, I was living with some like-minded people in the Russian House at my college, and my housemate and I together looked for jobs to teach English in St. Petersburg. We both interviewed for the same company, and while my housemate got a job in a suburb of Moscow, I managed to score a position an hour outside of the Venice of the North. It was eleven months of adventure and doing a job I loved and that mattered incalculably to many people. A year ago, I was reflecting that my lifelong dream was to change people's lives for the better, and at 22 I was already achieving that.
Now I've been home for four months and I work retail. I do shifts whenever I'm scheduled, including inconsistent hours and holidays, and I bounce between customer service, watching the front checkout lanes, being ON the front checkout lanes, and covering breaks for the baristas in our coffee area. It's service, which I guess I've always done in a way, but it doesn't always feel like it. I don't mean to say it doesn't matter--it does. My job is often what stands between someone having a decent day or having a horrible one. It is important in the way that it is a necessary thing. But it is usually physically and emotionally tiring, and thankless. I am just one face that someone sees in their busy life, a minor role that doesn't get a second thought. It is not the kind of job I look forward to. It's not what I aspire to be.
This was something I was always afraid of while I was in Russia. I figured that, my whole life, I've been in certain extra-curricular activities and occupying myself with schooling or adventures. I knew that when I came home, I would not know how to fill my days, how to spend my time, which hobbies I would decide were important enough to perpetually entertain. Perhaps I would invest money in yoga classes or maybe go find more improvisational comedy to do (things I've done in the past), or maybe discover something entirely new. What would I decide to do for my career? Would I need to go back to school to get my ESL degree? Would I be READY to go back to school?
I still haven't found answers to these questions. That, to me, feels very discouraging, and slow, and stagnant.
Of course, some amazing things are still happening in my life. I got engaged, I've been providing a home to two Russian immigrants, and I've been steadily putting out tidbits of writing for Odyssey. But a lot of the things that give me pleasure and purpose are either on hold or not happening. Sometimes it feels like life isn't moving at all. Sometimes it feels like I come home from work and just find something to numbly move the time.
I don't expect my life to be extraordinary, but I know it needs to move. But being the catalyst for that movement is not always easy. After all, an object in motion stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest.
To push oneself goes against physics. But it is all there is to be done.