A week ago today, I turned 25.
This was a somewhat bittersweet occurrence for me, in that I was leaving my beloved 24 (one of my favorite multiples of eight). Shanna consoled me, saying that I was becoming a multiple of her favorite number instead. Jessie offered further consolation: 25 is a perfect square! While not quite as good as a multiple of eight, that’s still pretty cool. I am choosing not to think about the fact that the next multiple of eight that I encounter will be my least favorite multiple of eight, 32. (Thirty-two has never felt like a multiple of eight to me; as as result I have always had difficulty remembering 8 x 4.) But, after that, there is 36, which I have always wanted to be the next multiple of eight after 24. Bonus: it’s a perfect square! (I recognize that it would not be a perfect square if it were, indeed, the next multiple of eight after 24.)
But I digress.
It has been one hell of an incredibly rocky year. It was split, almost in half, between two countries, two lives, two diverging sets of possibilities. I left the warm embrace of one community, and came home to try to rebuild one that had slipped away while I was gone. I started my year as a design ethnographer with a numbers bent: I ended it as a computer scientist with a stories bent. As Dr. Antonio, the graduate advisor for the Computer Science department told me on Friday, while looking at my transcript, “You have a lot of edge cases here.”
“Yeah,” I said, “That happens to me a lot.”
I am an edge case. That is basically the only way I have ever defined myself: a collection of odds and ends that makes most sense if you take them together and look at how different they are.
I feel that each new year is an edge, as well. Welcome to the edge of the rest of your life, baby doll. How are you going to make the best of it?
That is the question that I have been struggling with the most, recently. How am I going to make the best of it? What do I even want out of it?
I come from a culture that has taught that we should desire what other people have (or appear to have). It starts with toys, but it becomes bodies, houses, cars, jobs, love… As Alicia is always telling me, since the 1900s, marketers have been trying to convince us that our lives are incomplete, full of holes. They have been telling us that if we only buy suchandthus, the incompleteness will go away and we will have the lives we’re supposed to want to have (the shiny ones they show on television).
So there is that difficulty which we face as a culture. For me personally, there is also the difficulty of personal bent: through quirks of my history and personality, I have become so accustomed to focusing on the happiness I can facilitate in others that I fear I have forgotten how to locate my own.
If there is something that I hope for this year, it is that I learn to sniff out and follow my bliss like a bloodhound. Like I told my mother, it is time to ruthlessly pursue happiness.
What form this pursuit will take remains to be seen, and I’ll tell you as soon as I know.