On Business Trips and Existential Crises, Millennially

(TL;DR: 24-year-old girl emotional word vomit. So basically, what follows is some seriously grumpiness. Don’t read if you’re in a great mood. Don’t read if you hate millennial complaints. Don’t read if you’re Bruce Wayne – I essentially insult your power by comparing my power suit to your bat suit.)

I have just returned from my first business trip to New York City. I attended a big legal tech convention with my company. I had an absolute blast. Of course, in typical Katie Barry fashion, I failed to set an alarm and woke up incredibly late on my first morning there. I ran around, printing additional materials, and finally arrived in our booth. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they don’t kill me for the transgression, and I feel like an asshole, but other than that, I think the trip was a smashing success. I wandered the trade show floor, observing. I am far too timid and thus didn’t end up with any freebies (other than a football), but that may be for the best anyway. Who really needs a thousand pens and stuffed animals and flash drives?

I got to see Letterman taped! And Jason Bateman was on the show! I did the excited squeal that I make when I’m excited, and my co-worker looked at me like I was insane. Jason Bateman! Michael Bluth! Oh my god, so good. He had to retape his interview because they started talking about his daughter and it went to a very weird place – he sort of called her fat and it got super awkward. But I laughed so hard. It was so great.

I like being in front of the people. I like talking to people about what they need. I like talking to people in general. At one point yesterday, a man walked up to our booth and asked me what separates us from our competition. I blurted something out and he looked at my co-worker and said, “You should double her pay. That’s the quickest anyone’s been able to answer that question.” Even though he was not a serious potential client, I was thrilled. (It’s the little things. And don’t act like a little flattery doesn’t make your entire day some days.)

I spent the flight home in utter melancholy. Despondency. Severe emotional apathy. Thanks to my childhood, I have what I have termed a “mediocrity complex” in which my competency far outweighs my confidence. When I am confident and comfortable, I excel in whatever endeavor I choose to do. But for some reason, I’ve been hindered by the growing fears of my own inadequacy.

It’s holding me back – it’s stopping me from reaching my full potential. It’s miserable. I know this. I know that I am far more intelligent and capable than I could ever imagine, and yet, I stare at big projects, unwilling to start them because I’m terrified that something will go wrong. But I guess they’re not wrong when they say that everything worth happening happens outside your comfort zone.

I should just settle in and get comfortable with discomfort, because I am seriously determined not to be someone who just shows up. I want to be someone who kicks ass at what I do – and I want the people who I work for and with to be insanely impressed by my work and proud to have me as a team member.

I’ve been in this funk for a few months now. I can’t tell if the existential crisis I’m ensconced in is one that is the result of growing pains, or if it’s one that will lead me to seek growth. But either way, it’s brought my thoughts to a far more empty place than any of my previous quests for answers. It’s depressing, without depression, if that makes sense.

I no longer believe that I will find a person to truly love – that passionate idea of a soul mate has died and has been replaced by the reality that I find most men either incapable and boring or wildly pretentious and not life-experienced (they’re all such downers). I no longer have any idea what I’m passionate about (seriously. I mean, Game of Thrones counts, right?). I watch my friends as they do such great things – they volunteer, they work abroad, they are so much more whole people than I am – their accomplishments are starting to pile up, and yet, I don’t feel as though I can say the same. I no longer want children. That idea of that responsibility terrifies me. It’s this horrible stagnant circling – and the fear that I’m locked in a miserable holding pattern because I can’t think of one thing that I want. I do not want to internet date. I do not want to become a better snowboarder. I do not want to be tied to a cubicle for the rest of my life. (I mean, those “nots” are a start, right? Process of elimination? baby steps?)

It might be time to stop thinking about the future at all and start focusing – seriously focusing – on right now. I have a cat son who adores me, so there’s at least one thing I know I’m insanely good at it (snuggling and opening packets of wet cat food – okay, that’s two things). I am making new friends (whom I absolutely adore). I have managed to muddle along thus far, so perhaps I shall just keep on keepin’ on and see where I’m at in a month or so. Hopefully this panic that has been coursing through my veins and keeping me awake at night will settle soon. I’m tired. (Also, whiny never looks good on young ladies, so perhaps if I just shut up and think happy thoughts, happy things will follow.)

I also know that your twenties are at times terrifying and horrible – especially now that we’ve all coddled, terrified little people who want to think we’re young adults but are really just overgrown children – and perhaps this is one of those developmental milestones they write a thousand articles a year on. Perhaps this is the realization that eventually separates the “men from the boys,” so to speak in horrid gendered terms. But perhaps this is that kick in the pants where you have to realize that if you want something (oh god, what is that something? If only someone would just give me a freaking hint), you have to reach out and get it yourself. Ugh. Gumption. Courage. Candor. Capabilities. Potential. Here we go. (In case you can’t tell, I just typed words that feel good right now.)

On the plus side, I totally own a red business dress now. And it’s a damn good power dress. Maybe it’ll be like Batman and if you have the outfits, you’ll have the power. Hm. I’m going to stop now, obviously I’ve lost my mind and sleep will heal everything and I have some serious work to get done tomorrow.



1 thought on “On Business Trips and Existential Crises, Millennially

  1. Thanks for explaining what happened with Jason Bateman on Letterman. You could tell they redid the first part of his interview, but I wasn’t sure why… except Jason kept over-emphasizing how thin his daughter is. Now I get it. Ha!

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