Friday, March 4, 2011

To Do in Your 20s: Developmental Goals, Teased-Out as of Now

Well, someone recently alerted me that in our 20s, the primary developmental tasks are to find a career, decide if we want to be with a life partner (and sometimes, who that partner is), and build a solid identity structure for who we are.  Well, I have my work cut-out for me as the 3-decade marker approaches with rapidly increasing momentum.  I remember when 30 seemed so far away.  I had always envisioned myself adopting around age 30, married or not.  But now (half-way to 27), I realize that I would have to start the process... eh... immediately.  Not quite there.  So--adoption agencies, you can call off the national alert.  Stand down--I'm nowhere near filling out the paperwork.  

But for me, all these goals ultimately reduced to "security."  We want to know "What up" with life and how we are going to "get ours."  Well, I don't have a career, nor a solid direction on that.  No husband or vow of celebacy from me.  And the identity deal, well, who really knows.  So, I should have titled this post, "Brittney fails at everything Twenty."  But I don't really believe that.  And in my defense, I really wish someone would have told me I was supposed to be doing these things when I was on the starting-side of the continuum!  Not really. All in good time.   But I decided that these things would be good to consider, so I got me thinking.  

The career goals make sense, more or less.  And that is pretty straight forward.  However, I learned that I actually don't have any career goals presently.  Ha. Fail. But, I am taking the reigns on this one and building some exciting ideas.  I do know that, in my career I want to feel purposeful, be able to serve, have flexibility, always have the opportunity for learning and growth, and be a part of a community, of sorts.  So nothing specific, but goals for when I get the specific-part angled down.  To prove my commitment to this goal--because I actually have to work to care about it--I am currently taking a few aptitude+interest tests to get some direction (I think most people took these in high school or college.  Whoops.)  I also spent some solid hours on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.  It was pretty helpful, actually.  For anyone else considering career paths, the site is organized by area of education or interest.  It then outlines specific job descriptions, field-requirement information, personality types within the field, salary information and industry trends.  It was fun looking and fantasizing, but it also offered a dose of reality.  You can check out the percent of the market pursuing certain careers, growing or shrinking markets, the expectations and lifestyles of certain jobs, and even the requirements and ladder-of-ascent within career paths.  I can still say I am not really driven by any career accomplishments, although I do I have ideas, and I have considered a work environment I would to want and want to serve.  

Then we have the whole marriage thing.  Probably a pretty important one to address, but I can honestly say, I have no clue if marriage is something I want.  I just want life.  I know that may seem idealistic, but really--whatever it is, I want it.  Marriage seems like a really fun thing, to be sure.  But then, romantic love seems confusing.  However, I remain convinced that the real kind is actually simple.  I don't know if my decisions/my life will lend itself to a life-friend/love/partner/husband, but for the first time, I am at least actually open to the idea (WEIRD).  I honestly think I wouldn't lay heavy on the brakes, or take a quick detour to avoid "something" (friendship, etc.) where roads cross (a Quintessential Brittney-Maneuver).  However, I am also not taking a road trip searching for Mr. Right (But, hey--where is Mr. Left, anyhow?  I think he's my guy.).  Anyhow, by that, I just mean that I am not avoiding those situations and opportunities where the whole boy-meets-girl scenario could happen.  I feel peace in this place, and I think it has allowed me to find a freedom with myself.  I am practicing a new communion with my friends that I could never quite grasp before, and I think it is related to this shift in attitude.  I think the word is "Connect."  You know, really let them in.  Though I continue to seek God's wisdom before that of men, God really has me working my longitudinal relationships these days, and I am so excited about it.  I need people, and in needing them, I am thankful for them.  And in my gratitude, I find love for them.  I am pretty sure this would help me be a better mate, too.  No single person can fulfill your every need.  There is no one that can have every conversation with you.  But this is why God gave us community, along with family.  So, I guess this all brings me to the point that I admit that I would like marriage.  It really does seem rad.  But I still can't be sure if I am willing to mark it as a goal.  There are too many other things I want before marriage.  What if I had to give those up?  Thus, marriage remains on the To Do list, but more like the "Change my air filter" task.  Not gonna hustle to get it done, but when it's time, and I have the opportunity to buy the right filter, I'll put in the work to trade-out.  Time for some fresh air.  

And on that note, I find the savory meat of this post.  This is the real reason I wrote.  
***WHICH, became an entirely different post after I got started.  So, here is the brief Identity Discourse picked up after I was done writing the first time.****

But the next component of the triad is the identity goal.  Identity.  Hmmmm. And I thought  the marriage-thing was heavy.  Okay, although two sentences ago I referred to this goal as a component of the triad, two minutes have now passed, and I now give myself leave to retract that description. Identity is really not a part of the triad at all, I don't think.  It is above it.  Or between the triad.  Or maybe it is the triad.  I mean--what the hay is Identity, anyhow? 

Is it what we do?  Most would say, "No." 

Is it who we are?  Well, what does that even mean!  

How am I supposed to grasp MY identity, if I can't even nail down the idea of Identity?

Well, this helps me.  (Warning:  Pardon my nerd-ness. But the analogy gives me a strong sense of the composition of Identity.)

As I see it, identity is like DNA.  Our genetic make-up differentiates us from every other living creature. It seems only natural that the physiological composition of our identity parallels the larger concept of our metaphysical Identity. If it has been since fifth grade when you used the Punnett square to determine eye color, a little refresher of the functions of genes may be beneficial, and we may be able to dismantle a few misconceptions, as well.  DNA and genetic identity are really incredible.  DNA refers to the the protein structure of the genes that responds to our environment, influences our actions, and produces the neurotransmitters between synapses of our cells.  Genes do not actually directly affect any phenotype or functions of the body, but they emit proteins and interact with other genes, which in turn affects hair color, eye color, and psychological tendencies.  DNA is in every cell of our body, from the finger nail to the brain stem, instructing genes to turn off or on, depending on the cell's function.  Therefore, identity (as paralleled to DNA) is not the actual cells that compose the mass of our bodies, but a common cord within each cell.  To make this relevant, our finances, career, education, marital status, food choices, gym membership, etc. all make up who we are.  These are the cells.  People try to argue sometimes that these things aren't connected to our identity, but that never made sense to me.  If I wasn't going to grad school, or if I ate very differently, or made a bunch-ola of money, I would probably kind-of be a different person. My composition would be different--the mass of my body, the cells, would be functioning differently.  Yet the same sequence would be instructing the cells' maturation.  When people talk about identity, it seems they always try to discount external circumstances or life choices, but I  could just never buy that these things didn't also become part of my identity.  But with this analogy, I can grasp the difference between what I am (my cells) and who I am (my DNA).  For, identity is the message between our actions and possessions, forming the pieces of our life, which become the embodiment of our DNA.  Therefore, identity is the common strand that makes us, well... us.  

Yet, important to note, genes do not only determine the actions of cells and other genes; the relationship is reciprocal.  As mentioned earlier, genes react with their environment.  The result of the genetic function is that the choices we make can also affect the way we begin to make choices.  So, although the actual sequence will remain the same, genes can begin interacting with other genes and proteins differently, thus producing a different composition.  But again, only the cell mass and the function of the genome changes--the code you have had since birth does not. Therefore, cells/external circumstance do not make us who we are, but what we are.  Cells are the construction, but Identity is the code that instructs how these things are built.  So our choices affect how the embodiment of our DNA appears, but the trueness of each of us, is a code--a piece of everything we do, and the facilitator of our choices.  

Today, I am on a quest--sequencing my genome and building up my cells to form the actual matter of my life.  Yet, I will embrace all that I find.  My gene profile may show tendencies towards preferable, or perhaps less agreeable traits, but either way, it is the code within me and I still choose.  Genes tell us of our tendencies, but they do not eradicate free will.  We can be whomever we want.  We can pursue the very life we want to live.  Therefore, in a quest for my identity, I am using my "very unique and never-changing genetic proclivity" to just be... me.  

More to come on this, but from a totally different direction.  I let the wind carry me.  Went somewhere cool.  Catch up with you soon.

In the meantime, thanks for following my stream of consciousness.  

And stay dusty.

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