Where I Really Belong

Ever since I can remember, I’ve felt like the dad of my friends. Essentially, that means I’m the one who takes care of everyone and everything. I make sure we are on time to the movies, have all eaten, and give the most advice. In all humbleness, it means I’m the most mature. Girl friend groups will often have a “mom” of the group that does the same thing.

I don’t only feel that way because my friends often say things like “okay dad!”, but because I feel like I’ve never really fit in with people my own age. Growing up, my parents were huge fans of the Florida Gators. They used to have football parties every Saturday, and I vividly remember sitting with the parents while all the kids played soccer or video games. Even if I wasn’t with the adults, I was babysitting everyone else. The thing is that I didn’t do it because I didn’t like soccer or games. I did it because I felt more comfortable there.

The same thing happened in high school. While other friend groups went out and partied like typical high school students, my friend group preferred to make s’mores around a fire or walk on the beach late at night. Sure my friend group was filled with other kids like me, but I still found myself being the dad. I was the one that went home earlier than everyone else and sometimes preferred to stay in to spend time with my family. I remember my parents always asking me if I was going out, and if I said no, it was as if something was wrong. In reality, I was perfectly fine. I just needed me time.

College came around and most of the kids from that friend group began to party. Meanwhile, you could always find me in the common area of my residence hall watching movies with a few other friends…like two. The truth is, there aren’t a lot of people like me at this age, but we stick together when we find each other!

As I progress through my senior year, I still feel the same way. I have absolutely no interest in going out on the weekends and drinking or partying until 2 am. I’m 21 and I’ve still never ordered a drink. It’s not because I think alcohol is bad or anything, I just don’t have any interest in it. Can you imagine how hard that is to explain to other college students? Heck, most adults think it’s crazy.

Throughout college, I’ve found a few friends that are like me, and thankfully one is still around. She’s the person I spend most of my time with, and I’m grateful to have her as a best friend. But one of the reasons I’m so excited for graduate school is that most graduate students aren’t like the typical undergraduate kid. They’ve already been through the typical college environment. Sure they might go out and drink or party every once in a while, but they know that there’s more to life than waking up with a hangover.

Quite honestly, I don’t mind being the dad. I’ve always been comfortable being who I am.

I’ve found myself thinking about this a lot lately…to the point where I just want to be in graduate school already with the other moms and dads. I keep picturing how amazing it will be to be surrounded by likeminded people that are interested in the same things that I am. I can’t wait to finally meet people that would rather have a game night then hit up the bar. I’m tired of having to explain myself and justifying my actions. I just want to be surrounded by people that understand.

To be quite honest, thinking this way has made me a little miserable. You’d think the anticipation would excite me, which is does, but at a certain point that excitement is masked by the fact that I still have another year until I’m there. So I’ve begun living by the “if only” principle. “If only” I was in graduate school already. Some of you might know it as “if only” I had that promotion, or “if only” I didn’t have the mortgage payment.

What happens when we live in this mindset is that we start living for the future. We forget about the present. When we start living for something we don’t have, it’s draining. We lose gratefulness for what we have and where we are in the present moment. In doing so, we actually inhibit the future from ever arising.

What do I mean?

Think of it this way. Whenever rough patches arise in our lives, the only way we get through them is by working at them. We have to persevere. We can’t just ignore the present situation and expect everything to get better. We have to address what’s going on!

The same thing goes for the “if only” principle. If I sit here and wish I was in graduate school, so I can finally be surrounded by likeminded people, I’m never going to accomplish anything. I’m just going to get bogged down in my feelings. The only way for me to ever achieve that end goal is to act. It’s to work on my graduate applications. It’s to contact professors and introduce myself, so maybe I can get a research position. It’s to go to prospective students’ day, so the admissions committee can meet the real me and not just a piece of paper.

If you’re trying to get a promotion, acting means working harder. It means asking your boss for more responsibilities and demonstrating your abilities.

Next comes patience. Getting anywhere in life requires patience. Doing everything I need for graduate school takes patience and so does proving yourself to your boss. One successful project will get you a pat on the back. Two will get him/her to notice you. Three or four might get you somewhere though.

Everything in life takes time. The difference between those that are successful and those that remain stagnant is the ability to have patience and to make the most of the time they have.

So if you’re like me, wishing that you were at a different point in your life, follow these three steps:

  1. Recognize where you are and identify where you want to be.
  2. Act.
  3. Be patient.

Thank you all for reading! Let me know what you think in the comments below. Are you in a similar situation? Also, don’t forget to like and share! I’ll talk to you next week 🙂

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

~ Michael Jordan

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