On the Verge of 27: Expectations vs. Reality

So, the last thing I left you all with was a brief, barely edited & segue-free piece about my family needing to put our family dog to sleep. It was real uplifting, I know. I thought it would keep you happy for at least six months. My parents have since adopted another dog – a yellow lab named Duke who often prefers a too-small cat bed to his memory foam futon contraption and loathes isolation so much that he attempts to slyly crawl on your lap while you’re working on your taxes or reading. If he succeeds, he falls asleep on top of you.

He had been snoring for 20 minutes when I took this picture.

He had been snoring for 20 minutes when I took this picture.

It feels a little blasphemous to have a dog so soon after Jack was gone. I try to visit my parents once a week, and I keep catching myself calling him Jack. He answers to it half the time, so I guess it works. I often wonder how the two dogs would get along. I’d like to think that they would, but I think Jack may have experienced some kind of puppy-envy. Jack spent years earning the right to crawl on the bed or couch. Duke’s been around for about a month and has practically forced his way up. He’s so pitiful that it seems cruel to say no. He’ll walk up to you, rest his head on your lap (or keyboard, crochet project, book, etc), whine, and stare at you until you resign and invite him up.

Other than that, I’ve been doing a lot of the same things I talk about each time I return after a blogging hiatus: working, reading, dating, crocheting, justifying Target purchases, and eating ice cream. It’s life. My only real goals for 2015 were to learn all the lyrics to Kanye West’s Graduation & get super skinny. I’ve made progress on one of those.  (WAKE UP MR WEST, MR WEST, MR BY HIMSELF HE SO IMPRESSED) Notable exceptions are as follows:

  • Deciding to read one book at time rather than six
  • Discovering that emojis are not an app I have to pay for – they’re just on my iPhone
  • Signing up for Stitchfix, & keeping everything in my first fix.
  • Getting a In-Home Try On from Warby Parker and finding a pair of glasses that make me feel unstoppable.
NO ONE (WO)MAN SHOULD HAVE ALL THIS POWER

NO ONE (WO)MAN SHOULD HAVE ALL THIS POWER

While for the most part, I love my life, once in a while, I take a step back and look at myself through the eyes of 18-year old Ashley. She doesn’t get why I’ve been spending so much time with Excel and so little with a notebook and RSVP pen. She also doesn’t care about self-imposed midweek curfews or sensible casual office wear. Car insurance is something that Dad apparently makes the payments on, and rent will never be a responsibility. She thinks I should read more Chuck Palahniuk (she’s wrong) and fewer Vice articles (she’s probably right).

I’ll turn 27 at the end of the month. Eighteen year old Ashley assumed I’d be married and pregnant with my first child by now. As far as a career, I wouldn’t be doing anything really. My husband would take care of all of the expenses – including all my student loans – because he’s a gentleman like that. Though her ability to be incredibly self-absorbed without a speck of self-awareness is impressive, I wish she would have had her heart broken earlier in life. It would have saved the universe fewer re-readings of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. But whatever – she was too busy being oblivious and trying to prove to baristas that she was cool.

Self-deprecation aside, I just assumed my life would be filled with more creativity and music than spreadsheets and metrics. It surprises me how much I love my job sometimes. I assumed I would never lose my drive to journal or wax nostalgic while listening to Beck. As college was wrapping up, I sometimes imagined living in my own sunny studio apartment, baking ginger scones in the morning, and reading Flannery O’Connor stories as the sun rose, not caring that I was just barely making rent & student loan payments while working as a barista. (That sentence is hilarious for two reasons: 1, I own way too much crap to ever fit into a studio apartment & 2, don’t be absurd: baristas can pay one or the other: rent or student loans.) I didn’t imagine leaving the office at 8:30 after Excel froze because of too many countifs formulas on a tab of an executive summary page.

I miss how my younger self disregarded margins and completely filled notebooks with her thoughts. Though she was meeker and far more impractical, her only real aspiration was to live vibrantly. At 27, my life is now vibrant in different ways than I expected: A fulfilling career has replaced my housewife pipe dream, and independence has replaced my assumptions of comfortable monotony and security. I still read a lot of books. I laugh often. I’m comfortable in my own skin and am comfortable articulating my thoughts. Is that really so bad?

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