2012 started as a year full of possibilities that were overshadowed by terrifying doubts. I was unemployed after finishing up a temp job at United Way in good standing. The job market was improving slightly, but it was still a recession. Two of my better friends in the northwest had to move away because of job woes. The lease on my apartment was expiring; suddenly, the questions disturbing my sleep ranged from how long could I live off my savings and meager unemployment; to where could I find roommates if I needed cheaper rent; to was living in Portland still even the right place for me? The flip-side, of course, is that finding roommates or taking on a promising new job or even living in a new town could all be exciting. I was nervous, but things turned around quickly. The doubts transformed into opportunities. 2012 transformed into a great year.
Instead of trying to weave together a narrative like I usually do, I thought the best way to reflect on this year would be to grade different aspects of my life and how I thought they turned out compared to my other years in Portland.
To give you an idea where my expectations were at the beginning to the year: a 30-hour per week, $14 per hour job at a non-profit with limited benefits got me giddy with excitement. I considered there to be an above average chance that I’d be scrapping by with temp work until August, where I’d rejoin the seasonal United Way crew. Full-time jobs with benefits were the holy grail; nice to dream about, worth throwing my hat in the ring for, but lets be realistic. This is Portland. Rain and a crappy job market are the toll for living here. I knew that when I moved here.
This isn’t exactly a revolutionary sentiment, but I hate unemployment. When you live alone, being unemployed is a special kind of torture because you’re isolated from the daily interactions you’re used to. To quote South Park: “When you’re unemployed, weekends are meaningless.” I seriously considered taking on some menial contract work just to get out of the apartment in January. In this economy, I assumed I couldn’t turn down anything.
Lesson for me: think larger.
As I refined my application strategy, I started getting more responses, and finally the breakthrough happened: Yahoo! in Hillsboro, working as a Media Delivery Coordinator. A full time job! Benefits! A job title that sounds impressive on LinkedIn! Since then, it’s turned better than I even hoped for.
For once, I’m not the youngest person in the office. My coworkers are mostly fellow twenty-somethings, which adds some fun to daily interactions and the occasional off-site. While I worried my light web development/marketing background wouldn’t apply, it’s been a great advantage for me. The work involves a great level of responsibility and challenge without feeling like the world is on my shoulders (ahem, most of the time). There are short bouts of repetition, but I’ve had much worse at other jobs.
This job offers stability, which is an enormous relief. There was a lay-off scare early in the year, but these days it looks much better. For most of this year, I’ve focused on adjusting and just enjoying having stable employment. As the new year starts, I’m going to be thinking much more critically about where to go from here.
Social Life: B
It was a satisfying year! I used the stability the job offered to explore new opportunities. Domo and I are well-known on the Meetup scene, and I’ve become better friends with many of the Meetup regulars. More signs of progress: I made a good friend around the apartment complex; I had a great kickball team this summer; and I spend more time with my coworkers outside of work than at past jobs.
Building a social network from scratch here in Portland was one of the most intimidating challenges I’ve ever faced. I’m an introvert at heart, but my life doesn’t feel complete if I’m not pushing myself to get out there and meet people. During my first year in Portland, I often felt anonymous. After a couple of years, I now feel like I’ve got a nice social network out here. It still doesn’t compare to Kansas City. Should it? Building intimacy and close friendships takes time. Sometimes I feel out of place in Portland.
As a sub-stratom of my social life, I’d give my dating something like a C-. I’m giving myself a harsh grade mostly because I’m trying to hold myself to a high standard. I’ve come a very long way in overcoming the shyness that gave me a reputation as “the quiet kid” back when I was young. Moving to Portland and building a social circle from scratch out here is testament to that. I take it for granted all the social situations I handle gracefully these days, but dating is an area which can bring out that old bashfulness. To make progress, I’ve got to push myself further out of my comfort zone.
That said: things were more interesting this year and some things may still develop. I just feel like I haven’t attacked this area with the assertiveness it deserves. Won’t be in my twenties forever!
Everything Else? B
Well, I moved to Beaverton and lost 20 pounds. At least one of those is good, right?
Beaverton remains a compromise but one that has served it’s function well. My commute is decent and on the weekdays I live in a very livable, convenient area. The weekends are a little more of a pain, but it’s nice that I live by the MAX line for trips downtown. It’s gotten me to many Meetups and a few farmer’s markets. I miss the East side quite a bit, though. My apartment is spacious and reasonably priced, but old. My lease expires in the summer. I’d like to move somewhere new, but I’m not sure where another good compromise would be.
I adapted a much healthier lifestyle this year! I used to be known for my slothful bachelorhood, but these days I’m eating apples and drinking green tea. What brought about the change? Some alarming weigh-ins early in the year were quite the wake-up call! Won’t be in my twenties forever! I guess even now my metabolism is slowing down from tremendous to just very good. I took up weight-lifting, got on a regular running schedule and tried to avoid high fructose corn syrup where possible. I overshot my goals. I have more energy and feel a little more confident.
In other news, I had a few nice trips out of Portland. I enjoyed seeing Room 312 graduate back in Lawrence, spending a weekend in Seaside with the kickball team, taking a road trip up to Seattle with my old friend Eric and a very nice week in Chicago with my family. More traveling is a goal of mine, but I’m not sure where that would fit in 2013. I also watched way too much Netflix and invested too many hours into Xenoblade Chronicles.
So another year on the books! 2012 was a good one for me. It was probably the best year of my life since the AmeriCorps days. I don’t have any bold resolutions to unveil. Another year like 2012 would suit me just fine. But I want to keep challenging myself and have an eye for the future!