Erini in Real Life: this is who I am. (a sort of reflection from the 20sb summit)

23 August 2011

This weekend was amazing. Exhausting in the best way. Or as we used to say, epic.

I took part in the inaugural 20SB Summit. Around a hundren bloggers all here in Chicago, doing more than just drinking. It was a great weekend of inspiration/aspiration and application–aka we listened to a lot of our fellow bloggers kick our ass with motivation.

There were many applicable lessons to be learned, but one big one that’s stuck with my throughout today is about being authentic and being willing to truly expose yourself, good and bad.* To take risks. As Jenny Blake put it, there are three pilars to blogging: vulnerability, courage, and community. This will take hold of two of them, hopefully involving all three.

In taking a quick inventory of my life, there are three big things that are holding me back. I may have hinted at them, or mentioned them briefly in the past, but it’s time to face them. 1) I’m in a financial mess. 2) I’m afraid of being alone, and never finding love. 3) I may have many passions, but I have no idea what I’m doing or what I should do with my life.

Ever since I quit my job at Northwestern University in 2009, I’ve been in a financial mess. I’ve been struggling to get by–mostly I’ve been able to do it, but there’s definite times when it’s come to “pay rent or buy groceries.” I’ve been trying, but I haven’t been able to get myself out of this hole. When I was starting to get a little bit stable, I ended up in and out of the hospital a lot. And then I quit a job for another one, only for that company to fold three months later.

While I tend to live my life somewhat okay despite my financial situation, there’s a lot going on in my life. I’ve been generally happy, but that underlying fear is still there. I wonder who’s going to love me. Hell, it’s just who’s going to date me. I seem to keep falling for guys who don’t fall for me. Or in one case, someone who’s in a happy relationship. Regardless, I’ve spent more time than I’d like feeling alone. If this were a romantic comedy, I should have gotten the guy by now. Even beyond the dating, I have uncalled for insecurities regarding friendships too. I’ve never felt like I’ve had a best friend. I always feel like I’m just that girl people like, but if I left their lives it wouldn’t be a major upset. I know that it’s this fear that’s held me back from getting to know people.

In that same sort of floundering feeling… Guys, I don’t know what I’m doing in my life. I left the summit thinking “well what the hell?” I just don’t know what I want to do. I have so many passions, but very little direction. I love writing, but it’s hard to make a living on writing. I love design, but I’m struggling with some things–like whether or not I want to actually work in advertising, or the fact that I’m not that fond of logo design. I’d love to open a restaurant or cafe. I have a (not-so?) secret ambition to be a rock star, but I have major stage fright/anxiety. I’d like to teach, but in what? I mean, I think I just want a job like Craig Benzine’s (Wheezy Waiter), getting paid to be awesome. I wouldn’t call this a quarter-life crisis, but it’s been taxing.

I’d much rather pretend that everything is okay. It doesn’t fix the problem, nor does it really do any favors for me and the people around me. I’m not sure how I’m going to solve any of these issues… But this is who I am.

I don’t know if I’ll write a real re-cap post of the summit here or not. (There’ll be one on the CPS blog, though.) But I will say that I went into it not expecting much–not because I didn’t think it’d be awesome, but because I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t look into any of the panels before the summit. I just knew I’d be spending time with some awesome bloggers and that’s about it. I met some really cool people, and I wish we had more time to spend together (especially since I wanted to get to know some people better). But overall, I deem the summit a great success. If not for anything other than it’s taught me not to be ashamed of what’s holding me back.

*okay, well, the real thing that was said was something about the value of truth posts. I honestly can’t remember the wording that was used because I was busy being all 20SB/CIA and listening to the voices in my ear. Seriously, how did I not get a picture of (volunteer) CIA Rini this weekend?!
**CIA just meaning that I was wearing an ear piece for my walkie talkie.
***ugh, sort of lame post title. this is what happens after late night blogging. 

  • i think recognizing and owning your roadblocks is the best first step in concurring them 🙂 i don’t doubt you’ll figure it all out in your own time, in your own way

    • Erini

      Thanks Michelle! I know by ignoring them it isn’t making anything better…

  • dani

    I recommend building up your “quality community.” More band stuff, more quakers, more networking. The more time you spend around awesome people, the more opportunities will come up, and the less time you’ll spend up in your head- I’ve always noticed that my friends who are anxious get less anxious when they fill their lives with goodness. Aim for a good life, take care of the people around you, and I think things will fall into place for you. And concentrate less on dudes – if you’re putting good energy out, someone good will come along. Be patient. A boy is just another relationship.

    • Erini

      Dani, you’ve always got great words of wisdom for me. More band stuff is on the way. … I’ll admit I need more Quakers in my life. I need to get over my fear and just go to Meeting. And yes, I really need to stay out of my head.. it’s a fogged up cluttered mess.

      “Aim for a good life, take care of the people around you, and I think things will fall into place for you. “

  • I can definitely relate to all of this. Know this-you are lovable and you are and will be loved. I have to tell myself that sometimes too. I think life in your 20’s is just confusing and hard, no matter what. My favorite quote is this: “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”

    • Erini

      Thanks! 🙂

      I’m starting to view is less as an age thing and more of a just “phase in my life” thing. I mean, I love that some of my friends are out there doing amazing things and getting their lives together as 20- & 30-somethings… but DAMN does it make me wonder when it’s my turn. I need to get off my ass and just DO SOMETHING.

  • As far as the job/career decisions go, I like to be a total tool and fall back on a Sex and the City quote, in which Carrie refers to her job as a writer:

    “It’s not who I am, it’s what I do.”

    You job, whatever it may be, is not who you are. It doesn’t have to be your defining factor or even a passion. It’s a job. No one is doing today exactly what they want to be doing for the rest of their live, we all have other places we’d like our careers to lead, but we’re not there. It’s okay. Those jobs are WHAT WE DO. They are not WHO WE ARE. Getting a crap job you don’t like just to pay the bills isn’t selling out or not being true to yourself. It’s not going to stop you from ever doing anything else you love.

    You’re a very introspective person and I love you because you make so much effort towards self-awareness and pursuing your dreams. Just don’t trip up by obsessing over what APPEARS to be the amazingness of other people’s lives and comparing it to what you think is not-so-amazing in your own. Go step by step, and if that means your passions can’t be your priorities now, THAT’S OKAY.

    xoxo 🙂

    • Erini

      “and if that means your passions can’t be your priorities now, THAT’S OKAY.” –that is ALWAYS the hardest thing for me.

      I think maybe it’s been put on me too much that I need to pick a focus in school (all through college) so that I can get a career in it… everything was so goal focused, there was so much emphasis on what we were supposed to be. But whatever is keep me caught up on all this, I need to learn to let go and just trust that the right things will happen.

      • I don’t know if there’s any job out there that’s as unique as you are 🙂 It’s hard, in this “you can be ANYTHING you want!” generation (except not an astronaut anymore) to find a focus. It’s more of an evolution than a choice.

        • Erini

          I love you! 🙂

  • moo

    I think figuring oneself out is lifelong task. It is never really over. I definitely agree about letting the boy thing be right now. I’m in a city just for the summer – not looking for anyone at all because there’s not point – and I’ve gotten more interest thrown at me than ever before.

  • barak

    Its always good to tell who are you and whats your fears.. i would suggest to do it while you posting about something specific. For exaple, if im posting about dog blindess, i can start the post writing: “i was always afraid about the time when my dog will lose his sight” and so on..

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