Fall Changes

photo credit: Wanderung Hombourg via photopin (license)
photo credit: Wanderung Hombourg via photopin (license)

It feels like fall has come early this year. All the talk of pumpkin spice doesn’t feel out of place like it did last year at this time. Although it is 90 degrees today, the Pennsylvania breeze carries a chill as it stirs the air. Early leaves have begun to scatter gracefully across the pavement. Usually, I want to fight to hold onto the summer, but this year, I welcome the change.

This year, something feels different. It could be that I’m in a much different place than I was last fall. I had just moved back in with my parents after quitting a soul-sucking job. I was applying and interviewing to everything I could think of, to no avail. (I even got turned down for a job at Starbucks.) I almost regretted leaving my suffereable but secure master’s level job.

I’m in a far different place than I was three falls ago. This time in 2012, I was devastated after a misunderstanding at my internship that almost resulted in disciplinary action. I was completely questioning my chosen career path.Every day, I became more an more hopeless and depressed until my last day at the site in December.

This year, my goals feel closer than they did before. The part-time job I started in January has turned into a full-time opportunity, with me switching roles from caregiver to activities assistant. It’s not music therapy, but it’s much closer. It’s still a job that requires much less education than I have, but its a step in the right direction. The part that excites me the most, though, is that once I start receiving healthcare benefits from work, I will be able to afford to move into my own apartment. I already have a place picked out, and I’ve begun dreaming about how I want to decorate it.

I don’t know why things are so hard. I thought that once I completed my master’s degree, I’d have the key to an instantly successful life. Any job I wanted would be open to me. I had certainly labored enough for it. Fighting for jobs that I am underqualified for has felt demeaning. I’ve struggled to not connect my pay or my job title to my self worth.

I see my friends struggling too, many buried under insurmountable student loans. It’s hard to not feel like the millenials have gotten the short end of the stick. We did everything they told us to do in school and it’s not paying off.

What am I going to do? I’m going to keep trying, because that’s the only thing I know how to do. After I get settled in my new job and my new home, I plan to pursue my teaching certification, in hopes that it will open me up to a wider range of job possibilities and give me more opportunities to move up in the world.

For now, I’ll have to settle with moving through life one small step at a time.

Fall Challenge

Fall in Central Park, 2009
Fall in Central Park, 2009

Every year, I rejoice when summer begins and mourn when it ends. While others are unleashing their sweaters and boots and pumpkin spice lattes, I try to prolong summer’s carefree gaiety by sipping on iced tea and walking around barefoot until it finally becomes too cold to do so comfortably. But as is inevitable, I have finally had to don my warm socks and change my tea from iced to hot. The breeze is cool and the trees are erupting in fiery brilliance. I can’t deny it anymore- fall is here.

I’ve decided that instead of lamenting the change of seasons, I’ll try to embrace it. I’ve challenged myself to come up with a list of things that I appreciate about the fall:

  • Fall is perhaps the only time I am able to appreciate a gray sky. There’s just something about the contrast between the dreary clouds and the bright foliage that I find to be poetically beautiful. It’s a natural reminder of how our joyful days and our difficult ones contrast each other in order to create beauty in our lives.
  • Fall presents us with a valuable reminder to be in the present. As I go about my day, I’ll often notice a strikingly beautiful tree or scene. I’ll say to myself, “Wow, I’ll have to stop and take a picture the next time I pass by here.” But naturally,  when I come back, even if it is just a day or two later, the tree doesn’t look the same and the lighting is all wrong. The moment is gone, and I’ve missed my chance to take an artistic photograph.
  • Fall shows us that it is okay to adapt and let go of that which no longer serves us. We watch as the trees drop their leaves so that they may take care of themselves and survive throughout the harsh winter. Not only is that okay, it’s beautiful.
  • At Thanksgiving, we remember the importance of gratitude as we take a moment to celebrate and appreciate the blessings that we often take for granted. Science shows us that people who regularly practice gratitude are happier.
  • Fall teaches us impermanence by reminding us that change is inevitable.

What do you love about the fall? What else can we learn from the changing of the seasons?

Suggested listening: Autumn Leaves – Ed Sheeran and Autumn Leaves – Eric Clapton

Mary