Recently, I fell through a black hole.
Everything was flipped upside down. Everything and anything, everyone and anyone, that I was accustomed to and in love with changed. Not themselves, really, but in my eyes they are different now. Not because of something particular they did or because something about our relationship changed. Everything is just different.
These dainty little black holes are a common thing in life, apparently. You’re walking one day—one foot in front of the other—and the next day you’re sprinting. And the next you’re jumping. And the next you’re swimming.
And I hate it.
When did I give my surroundings permission to change on me; to be different in my own eyes? I didn’t ask them to. They just did. Just like that; as simple as flipping a light switch. Someone’s here one moment and gone the next, the only evidence of their existence being sustained in a photograph, an item, a memory.
I keep counting the minutes until the next black hole; until the next superficial change, and it paralyzes me. It makes me feel incomplete. Sometimes I dread the future so much I forget about the present. Sometimes I feel my longing for the past creeping up on me as I lay under the covers. Sometimes I close my eyes and think long and hard about a particular day, wishing with every ounce of me to go back to that day. I expect there to be no more days like that one; a negative, cancerous feeling that is sometimes almost too much to handle and destroy.
So maybe there’s importance in the unimportance. Life could be so much easier if we just passed though it obligingly, without stopping to appreciate happiness or fall in love or sing in the shower, because then we wouldn’t care if these things were ripped from us.
I work at my university’s career center. Going in I thought about all of the money I’d make and the experience I’d gain and how it would look amazing on my resume. Just those three things. That’s all I was thinking. And yet, after meeting with my supervisor and trainer, I sat at my computer, absorbing this foreign environment as much as I could, and they walked up to me. My new, fellow peer career advisors; a cute Hispanic girl with glasses and a tall, Adrien Brody-resembling cutie. Broad smiles lined their faces, and what struck me down like a truck was how incredibly genuine they were.
“You’re going to love it here,” Adrien Brody tells me. At first I think he must tell this to all the new people—which ironically he does—but he wholeheartedly meant it, and he means it every time.
The day passed slowly, mostly because as a newcomer, there isn’t much you can do. Our training track lasts up to a year, so there was nothing immediate that needed to be done. Peer career advisors and other student staff members came and went. By the afternoon Adrien Brody and the girl with glasses were gone, replaced with a short, fierce girl and a bubbly, little mermaid lookalike. They were clearly complete opposites; that was my first impression, but still they talked and hugged and laughed like old friends. A quiet guy sat in the corner, casually acknowledging my presence. It was clear to me he had been there a long time and had most likely observed many people come and go—it’s like what the director of the career center says, “We don’t want to see our students here forever. That’s not their goal or purpose.”
My supervisor gave me one rule; I wasn’t allowed to eat at my computer. She asked me to eat in the conference room—our lounge is usually reserved for employers who visit our campus—and I had only one qualm about her request; I did not want to eat alone. I was new and slightly afraid, but I asked if anyone wanted to eat with me anyway. The fierce girl volunteered and we ventured off into the conference room. She had already eaten, so she just talked me to while I ate.
I told her I had already met Adrien Brody and the girl with glasses, along with the bubbly girl and the quiet guy. “Bubbly girl’s really into country music,” she said. “And quiet guy’s mean…at least to me,” she joked. Quiet guy was there for my first week of employment before leaving for the summer for an internship. Even though he’s been back for a while, he’s still aloof and quiet, but when he speaks it is almost always whimsical and hilarious.
She continued to describe everyone by their unique quirks, which included their levels of niceness (although no one I work with is a complete jerk or anything), the quantity of which one eats (although we all eat a lot at work…it’s a blessing and a curse), and the size of their butts (although I think we were all blessed with nice butts…just a personal opinion though).
In the end I felt completely welcomed by my new colleagues. I had never worked before, and I was a bit scared for my first day. Of course that fear was misplaced. Everyone was nice and unique in their own way. By the time my first day came to an end, I could already feel myself transcending through one of those black holes.
By the end of my second week there, I was already ordering pizza with Adrien Brody and the girl with glasses, clued in on the office inside jokes (One of our longest and most transcendental being that we call our trainer Beyoncé. For many reasons.), and eating lunch at my computer. “Everyone breaks that rule after their first day,” the girl who ate with me on my first day explained. It is more than true.
After a month of sass, snide, and snarky humor, I was inducted as an “official” peer career advisor; meaning I was fair game to jokes, tormenting, and teasing. It was one of the best feelings in the world.
It’s been almost nine months since I’ve started working at the career center, but I feel like I have been there all of my life. My coworkers have become more than just coworkers; they’re my “career center family.” I tell them my woes and my secrets, my fears and my ambitions, even the really strange dreams I have all of the time. They are my worst and best critics; my very best friends.
When I am unsure of the future, I recall conversations I have with Adrien Brody. It can be a repetitive conversation at best; we frequently return back to it but quite often our position on the matter shifts. Uncertainty rests in how much we value our purpose. That’s what I derive from this conversation every time we have it.
For months I was uncertain about what I wanted to do. I mean, sure, I want to be a writer, but how I was going to go about it, I was uncertain. My coworker reassured me that even though he’s doing what he loves, he too has doubts. He sometimes thinks about what it would be like if he had majored in something more practical. He sometimes thinks about getting a graduate degree in something more marketable. And every time we have this conversation, with each variation, I am reassured that I am not the only one who can be unsure, and through these conversations I have developed a plausible plan for how I want my future to play out. And it is completely and utterly wonderful. There’s a certain satisfaction partnered with having someone to talk to about fears burrowed deep inside me.
However, I am still unsure about one particular thing about the future. I think about it a lot and how it’s pretty much out of my reach and common and something I need to accept and all the other nonsense people will tell you. I will not work with these wonderful, strange, spectacular people forever. One day we will part ways and be out of each other’s lives completely, and honestly there is nothing I can do about it. Sure, we can keep in touch. I know I’ll text them and send them pictures of things that remind me of them. There’s always social media; at least that way we can know what milestones, big and little, they have achieved. But I’m not going to see them every day like I do now. We’re not going to eat lunch at our computers and talk about weird dreams and have someone we can casually sass at without having the fear of being shamed or ignored.
I recall a time when I was a child and my best friend was moving to Colorado. I sought comfort from my father, but instead of sugarcoating it, he told me that losing people and drifting from someone you thought would be with you forever was a common part of life. This message resides in the back of my head every time I meet someone new. I wonder how long they’ll be in my life and what impact they’ll have. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started working at the career center. I had hoped I’d become close with my coworkers, seeing how I’d be working with them a lot, but what I got was so much better. I have found some of the truest friends I have ever had. I tell them about all of my embarrassing moments. They take care of me when I’m sick. They’re frequent guests in my strange dreams. I see them more than I see the majority of my family members. Sometimes I think they know me better than my closest friends.
I fear having to start over. I fear having to make new alliances. I fear the future for this sole reason. But even in just the nine months I have been working at the career center, two of my good friends have come and gone. The girl with glasses moved to Mexico to become a nun in October. My partner, who I feel I have a typical older brother-younger sister relationship with, is graduating in May. These people will come and go, just like everyone else does, and there is nothing I can do about it.
I’m not advocating the importance of unimportance, but I know if that was how I went about things, if I had kept my distance, if I hadn’t found a movie buddy in the fierce girl, if I hadn’t become so close with Adrien Brody, if I hadn’t sought a confidant in my go-to coworker when I’m having boy drama, maybe I wouldn’t fear the future so much. Maybe I could just glide through not caring, unafraid, aloof, silent, alone. This dilemma wouldn’t exist.
I don’t know if I’d feel more okay, though. Maybe I’d be too lonely to do so. But at least in my loneliness I’d find solace in knowing I wouldn’t have to move on or start over. It would just be me, myself, and I. So maybe there really is importance in unimportance.