Real Adult Life

a diligent over-analysis of "adultolescence"

It’s in my head! January 3, 2011

Filed under: Life — jamiej527 @ 12:34 PM

Last night I took part in this conversation:

Boyfriend: But outside stock brokers, who really gives a crap about business quarters?
Jamie: Uh….
BF: What?!
J527: (Taking planner out of my purse, slightly abashed) I broke down my New Years Resolutions into quarterly goals, look!

Yep.  I’m even treating my personal life as if it were a business venture.  I can’t decide whether I’m proud or ashamed.


discerning priorities April 25, 2010

Filed under: Life,Musings — jamiej527 @ 11:05 PM
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I recently blindsided myself with the realization that my life is up to me to control.

Revolutionary, right?  Hardly. Yet the concept struck me straight in the gut.  As I watched my friends careen into suburban motherhood, I recognized that I’m not cut out for The Mommy Track.  This isn’t to say I never want to be a mom, nor do I judge my friends for their decisions.  I merely recognized that I’ve always lived my life with a different sense of balance than they do.

So I pictured my life in every circumstance, letting myself feel the weight and freedom of possibility.  Graduate school out East, chasing an MBA in finance.  Setting up new roots with my current job in Arizona.  Rooming with a grad-school bound friend in Nebraska and figuring things out from there.  Testing the strength of my network in California, New York, or Massachusetts.

I took stock of what I valued.  What I was hoping to find, what I didn’t want to lose.  And I ended up deciding that I don’t want to go anywhere.

My world is here in Minnesota.  Yes, for the right adventure I’d uproot and fly.  But not only do I love what I have here, I’m proud of it.  Not every 23 year old woman is close friends with her grandparents.  I may only have a few decades-long friendships, but some people have none at all.

I’ve been told that my life is at a point of change and growth, which is it is.  And I know moving wouldn’t mean losing touch with loved ones.  But I’ve worked hard at the relationships in my life, I simply don’t want to leave them.  And I AM at a great period of growth and change.  For example, I’m establishing independent adult relationships with relatives that I love and feel blessed to experience.

Sure, I don’t know what it feels like to Chinese takeout in New York at 3 a.m..  But I do know what it’s like to drink wine coolers by firelight with my Grandma.  Fair trade.


“Destiny” November 29, 2009

Filed under: Life,Musings — jamiej527 @ 4:42 PM
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The Men Who Stare at Goats left something to be desired, but it managed to leave one scene stuck in my head.  This scene suggests that we all have a destiny in the universe, and that trying to do anything you’re not destined to do is like swimming upstream.  When a person stops struggling against their destiny and accepts their preordained path in the universe, everything falls into place and life is no longer a constant struggle.

In college, I was exposed to Catholic theology of vocation.  The basic idea is that God has a plan for us all, and that our lives provide a natural roadmap to this calling.  Rather than looking for an abstract idea that God “puts on the heart,” vocation seekers look to their past and recognize their happiest and most successful moments.  These moments act as a compass, pointing the seeker toward the path God has suited them to fulfill.

Even the critical, secular parts of me are drawn to these ideas.  Absent God, absent a divine concept of “The Universe,” the theories still seem practical.  The basic theory: figure out where your joys and talents intersect, and a fulfilling life will naturally follow.

To use myself as an example, I loved getting good grades because I got a thrill out of hitting predetermined benchmarks.  I loved sports mostly because I loved building camaraderie and being part of a team.  I loved dance and performing arts because I get a natural high from constant improvement in pursuit of perfection.  That is: my greatest thrill has been achieving a goal that my team had worked its asses off to attain.  Is it really a surprise that I love management?

Whether it’s called “destiny” or just a “job that’s a great fit,” I think the idea that some of us get caught swimming upstream is dead-on accurate.  That’s not to say that finding a good fit makes life challenge-free.  That’s not the point.  The point is that everyone has a path (or two, or six) that make them happier and more successful than any other path.  At that point the challenges will be thrilling, not nausea-inducing.

Or, in the immortal words of Garden State: “Do what you love.  Fuck the rest.”


Inter-Generational Challenges November 21, 2009

Filed under: Life,Musings,Work — jamiej527 @ 12:01 AM

Like all workplaces, mine has one particular challenging coworker.  On Thursday this individual stated that, “as you’ll know if you’ve taken any HR training courses, this new group of young adults is just horrible to work with.” She went on to explain that she dislikes working with me and others like me Gen Y-ers.  That I have usurped a position that I don’t deserve Gen Y-er’s sense of entitlement leads them to take on more responsibility than they are prepared to handle.

Without rehashing details, our 20-minute conversation was incredibly uncomfortable.  I’m proud to say I kept my composure during our chat, speaking from my brain rather than my defenses.

Since the beginning of time, each generation has chastised the next.  The “kids these days!” curmudgeon stereotype grew out of truth.  My hypothesis: we’re raised to uphold particular values and bristle when a large group of people succeeds by flouting these same values.

The best way to work between generations, IMHO, is to interact with each coworker as an individual rather than a member of a subgroup.  But what does one do when she’s already been pegged as a token subgroup member?   I’m stumped.


…when you grow up… June 7, 2009

Filed under: Life,Musings — jamiej527 @ 4:28 PM
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America is the land of opportunity.  If you work hard enough, there’s no limit to what you can achieve.  Decide what you want, set your goals, work hard, and it’s only a matter of time before you’re living your very own American Dream.

So what do you want to be when you grow up?

I still have no clue.  Luckily for me, I’ve decided the whole notion is a giant crock of bullspit.

First, lets stop pretending we have this beautiful level playing field of opportunity.

Secondly (and slightly less sourly), the idea of choosing one’s destiny is impractical.   It implies that one knows all one’s choices, which simply isn’t true.  I didn’t dream about being a bank operations manager as a child.  I didn’t know the job exisited, which makes it difficult to work into my grand plan.  But more than that, I never would’ve guessed it would be such a great fit.  The world encourages people to choose industries that fit them, not specific positions; I easily could’ve missed my position if I’d gotten hung up on fears that banking may  not be right for me.

Thirdly, life is unpredictable.  Births, deaths, relocations, love affairs, divorces, bubonic plagues… shit happens.  And while that list is pessimistic, I think there’s greater danger in sticking too closely to one’s plan and missing out on wonderful surprise opportunities.

Most of all, many great things exceed all planning possibilities.  The tendency for small, easily ignored nuances to snowball into life-altering, world changing forces is one of my new favorite things.  And, incidentally, one I plan to blog about quite a bit 🙂


Leading by Example June 5, 2009

Filed under: Life,Musings,Work — jamiej527 @ 12:24 AM

I recently had a conversation with my counterpart and our branch manager about whether employees were losing respect for our authority.  Punctuality was our hotbutton issue, which we agreed to address at our monthly meeting.  I mentioned that we needed to be extra impeccable ourselves to underscore the point.

“What!” my counterpart said.  She clearly thought I was being ridiculous. “They have to be on time.  We don’t have to be as strict with ourselves because we’ve earned it by earnin our positions.”

I was baffled.  I believe that setting an example was the basic foundation on which all leadership is built.  How can a manager seem credibile to her employees if she can’t meet her own basic expectations?  Moreover, why set expectations at all if they aren’t important enough to fulfill yourself?  Failing to lead by example, in my opinion, simply amounts to hypocrisy.

That said, we live in a society where rank earns priviledge,  so perhaps my view is naive and outdated.  What say ye?