I always imagined at this point I’d have it all together.
24 when I was 22 was such a far off age. It was two years removed from college, two years into adulthood, two years of chances and choices and the world opened up for me to figure out and do with as I pleased. It was two years to land the job that I wanted, two years to plot my place in the dirt, two years to grow into something suitable for the adulthood that was to come–be that in the form of my working a good job or moving out and living on my own. But never would I have imagined two years ago that I would have ended up where I did, a coffee barista, making below minimum wage, alongside kids that are still in high school.
When I graduated from college, I lost touch with the majority of the people I called friends. Some of that was due to our not being together and some of it was due to distance, but when a month, two months, an entire summer had passed and I didn’t know what I was doing, what I was going to do, or why things hadn’t worked out the way I thought they should, I had no one to turn to during my first crisis of adulthood; I felt in a lot of ways alone.
So much of what I wanted was to have the opportunity to just speak to other people: cool people, rude people, all kinds of people. Maybe they’d be friends, or maybe they’d be strangers, and if they were strangers, I wanted a job that encouraged an interaction with them, that facilitated my ability to get to know them over some similar interest. And my coffee job became that. Before it, I’d felt as though I’d failed already, as though I’d slogged through the horrors of adolescence only to collapse here. But coffee gave me the chance to get to know other people, to make friends, to ease my way into adulthood without having to dive in, allowing me to enjoy what I did everyday without dreading the moment I wake up.
But now, as I look ahead toward marriage and bills and adult responsibilities, the job I’ve worked in for the past two years doesn’t seem to fit, which always seems to happen, doesn’t it? You work that job you really enjoy, the job you wish you could be involved with forever, but it doesn’t quite pay enough. Or isn’t quite fulfilling enough. Or is too far, or the hours are too little, or too much, depending on what you’re wanting. And you have to begrudgingly set it aside and live out a life doing what you think you should be doing, or what will allow you to, you know, live–which is where I am now.
As of next week, I will no longer be a barista. I won’t work in coffee, I won’t have anything to do with what I am currently doing, which is both exciting and absolutely, gut churningly, bone-shakingly terrifying–because over the past couple of years, though I am a writer, though I am an artist, though I have developed interests and skills that I hope to be able to use one day, being a barista is all people have paid me to do. It’s the only thing I can say, “This is what people felt I was good enough at that they would pay me to do it!” And while I have faith that those other skills will develop over the years to a point wherein I can use them professionally, that isn’t now–and now is where I currently am, two years from where I thought I should have had it all together, two years from where I thought I’d be somewhere else entirely.
I am excited though for whats to come because the opportunity that I have before me is one that will probably be significantly more satisfying for me. It’ll be challenging, sure, it’ll have its own share of frustrations, but I believe it will ultimately work for the better in the end–two years from my having graduated college–now–I am more hopeful for what’s to come than I have been for awhile.
And hey! Who knows? I’d be surprised if one day I didn’t find my way back to coffee; it’s a part of me now after all.