Monday, February 10, 2014

Kailee & Amanda: Pt. 2

Today in my teenage angst, I continue with Life Changing Lessons. I'm 26 now and in my last semester (probably) of undergraduate education. Most of my friends are married with children or have grad degrees by now. I'm not emotionally invested in this fact because I'm doing what I want and am weirdly content about it. None the less, when I meet people who have come to my age and are generally good at life, I am inspired to draw from their awesomeness in hopes of one day becoming a functioning adult. 
Not a good example of a functioning adult.
Amanda is one such person. As a sort of refresher from Pt. 1 of this post, Amanda is an introverted Archivist and one of the smartest people I have yet to encounter. She is also the most functional young adult I know. This inspires me. It's like as a generation, we've taken it upon ourselves to be dysfunctional in most areas of our lives. We might be able to hold down a fulfilling job, or graduate from Grad School, but relationally, we're a mess. Psychologically, we're a mess. Emotionally, we're a mess. Amanda is not a mess. She defies the archetype of the quarter-life crisis; and I am better for having gotten to watch her do it. People say that Amanda was born 40 years old and that is why she's so functional. This is partly true, Amanda is truly an old soul. But I'm also pretty sure it's just because she's Amanda. I want to be Amanda. 
One of our shared great loves.
Life Changing Lessons From Amanda
1. Productivity is normal. Laziness is not.
One of Amanda's favorite phrases is "that's fair." I'm certain it works toward her ability to reamin conversationally objective, but it drives me crazy. Mostly because when I'm being ridiculous in a bad way she'll tell me it's fair to behave that way, but she never does. It's an accepted part of Amanda's life that she will be productive. She is more consistently productive than not. I am never productive. And when I am, I deem it necessary to high five myself about it. Amanda shows me that my laziness, while commonly seen as normal, shouldn't be. Efficiency doesn't have to be taxing, but it tends to be when you aren't consistently efficient and have to cram efficience into an hour. This goes directly into my next life-changing lesson from Amanda.

2. Be better. Work harder. 
Amanda is the kind of person who works full time, goes to the gym five times a week, consistently cleans her house, avoids junk food, and still engages in all the greatest teen obsessions of our time. These things 
(except that last one), she will admit, don't come naturally to her. It's not the funnest thing to clean and eat well. And the gym sometimes sucks. The aim, however, is not to enjoy the difficult things of life, but to do them. In this, she seeks to be better. To be functional. To be healthy. I, in contrast, will skip the gym because a celebrity died and eat a bag of doritos because I haven't in a while. Amanda shows me that the key to being better is to simply be better. Do the stuff you don't want to because it's better for you, and it makes you better. So I drag myself to the gym and I put off watching yet one more episode of FNL to do my stats reading. Because it's better.
We both definitely have holds on THIS IS US, at our respective libraries.
3. Be adventurous. 
Amanda likes to do things. Big things. Not like party-big, but climb Machupichu-big. She picked her University because she could do a semester abroad there. Last year she went to New York just to see The Postal Service play one of the five shows they would ever do together. Later this year she is going with her sister to Peru. To see the sights and clime the aforementioned Machupichu. She likes to do things. She's adventurous. I like to stay home. I really really like my room. I like fictional worlds. And I'm okay with that. But here's the thing: so does Amanda. She likes her space too, and delves into fictional worlds with even more fervor than I do. But she also finds the non-fictional devling into real worlds as compelling. Identifying so closely with Amanda and watching her experience the world, has, out of no where, made me also want to experience the world. In small steps, obviously. I'm going to Ottawa next week and I'm pretty pumped about it. There's a lot to see, you know? I want to be adventurous.    
Speaking of functioning adults who shouldn't be.
I'm not trying to emphasize my weaknesses in these posts. They're not really weaknesses because they're not permanent. I can change. I've spent two semesters now studying the psychological mechanisms behind behavioral change. They exist, dammit!!! The point is rather that these relationships were unexpected, but not accidental. I have a lot to learn from those surrounding me, and I'm pretty grateful for the presence of Kailee and Amanda last year, as instrumental in the development of a (hopefully) healthier, more whole, and functional Hannah. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Kailee & Amanda: Pt. 1

Today in my teenage angst, it’s February 8th, and far too late to start making resolutions. I didn't do a resolutions/plans post because I decided not to make any and I didn't make the kind of plans that I wanted accountability for. It was just one of those things. There are a lot of live evolutions I’m looking forward to this year; graduating (again), for instance. These things I’ll inevitably share with you as they happen. They aren’t the kind of things, however, that we need to anticipate together.

It was kind of a weird year, though, and by the end I was excited for it to be over. While I understand the ‘turning of a new leaf seduction’ of January 1st, I like to be careful about it; acknowledging my human-ness and general inability to follow through. Nonetheless, I met two people this year that affected me in such a way that I came to look at the possibilities for 2014 in a renewed light. Both are women. Both are younger than I; though, one by only a few months. Both are more accomplished and have more focus than I. This is where their similarities end.

Kailee is a hyper-extroverted, certified High School English Teacher who has spent time teaching English in Peru, and Swaziland in Southeast Africa. She runs the day camp at the Moose Jaw Multicultural Center during the summers, handling twenty craz-bot children, all facing daily cultural onslaught, and is legit just like super whatevs about it. I spent a composite day with them over the summer and was legitimately losing my mind every second.
Amanda, by contrast, is an introverted Archivist, who takes intense and admirable pride in old documents and knows things I cannot fathom. She travelled to Italy with her High School Latin class – obviously. She has spent significant time in Europe, partly for school, and partly for awesome. In Grad School, she went to Guatemala to work with Librarians Without Borders. Yep, that’s a thing. Most recently she got a boss job as a university archivist, with an office and everything, and is quite literally owning it. 
I met Kailee through a mutual friend who told us we should spend some time together. Thanks, Matty. We’re pretty happy about that. Kailee and I largely spend our time drinking wine and talking about how to make the most of our lives while still living with our parents.

I met Amanda through the Library, where we work(ed). Admittedly, the first two months of her employment, I didn’t know she existed. I saw her, obviously, but thought she was just a new and really committed patron. Eventually, she emerged from the Archive and we talked, first about the usual uninteresting things, and then about the gym. Then we died over Casual Vacancy, and bonded over The Fault In Our Stars, Taylor Swift, Friday Night Lights, Community, Arrested Development, and television as a whole. We spend most of our time talking about the glory of Teen Wolf, and getting upset wtih JK Rowling for the Ron/Hermione thing and then trying to forget about it. That’s obviously more recent, but we’ve spent a lot of time on it.

These two are legit the most amazing and admirable women, not only because of who they are and what they’ve done, but because of what they’ve taught me. The following are three lessons from each that I am carrying into this year.

Life Change Lessons From Kailee:
1. People are good, and important, and lasting.
Because she’s a hyper-extrovert, Kailee has a giant community of friends, and acquaintances. Kailee values people so much and she works really hard to make sure they know that she values them. Kailee regularly takes a family of four little African children to the theatre by herself, on her own dime, because she loves them. Kailee’s love language – though she might argue otherwise – is quite clearly quality time, and everyone around her is better for it. I take into this year the importance of surrounding myself with people that will support me; emotionally, professionally, and socially. I am led, by Kailee’s example, to resist the isolation that often comes as a result of my social anxiety.

2. Adaptability
Kailee takes on challenges like no one’s business. I avoid challenging things; to a fault. Last year, Kailee got a temporary teaching contract at one of the High Schools in Moose Jaw. Teaching High School is really hard. She spent ten hours at the school every day and went it on weekends. She shed a lot of tears. But she didn’t quit. Mostly because you just don’t quit; but a lot of me thinks that I probably wouldn’t have made it. Kailee is highly adaptable. She looks at a situation, assesses the problems, and figures out the best way to survive, and then thrive (yeah I did). It’s one of the most admirable things about her; and it's something I think about a lot when I enter uncomfortable situations. I channel my inner Kailee; as should we all.

3. If you want it, work for it.
Kailee knows what it is to work. She’s had a job since it was legal, worked all through college, and usually works two jobs when she’s not in school. Even during her trying semester teaching High School, she still waited tables at night and on weekends in order to pay off her student-loan as quickly as possible. Kailee also likes things. She likes to buy boots, and go on trips, and eat out. She also knows that those things come at a cost, and she’s willing to work for the cost. If you want it, you have to work for it. When I look my school coming to an end, and the things I want for my life, not only material, but also communal and experiential, I am inspired to work harder to achieve those things, more fully understanding the cost that accompanies their achievement.

I am a better, more whole person for knowing Kailee and getting to watch her live her life. It is my continual aim to actively put these things into practice.

Still to comes: Life Changing Lessons from Amanda.