On post-grad doubts and newfound permanence

Des MoinesA bulk of my friends will graduate from college in May; they’re buzzing with talk of trips, abroad experiences, new cities, new worlds, uncertain everything, practically. Meanwhile, I’ve been meditating on what it means to stay put. To establish a self in one place: Des Moines.

There’s something about travel that compels me to capture everything, whether in photo form or in writing. I re-read all the emails I sent my family from Turkey in January 2014. Without warning, the nagging misconception of life writing hit me, one I’ve long fought: “Nothing exciting ever happens to you. Who would want to read about your life, especially now?”

Well before I studied life writing, I believed my own world too boring, too mundane to be worthwhile in writing. Yet in the natural transience of college — the organization-sponsored trips, the yearly move to some new room or apartment, the (near) necessity of study abroad — even my routine world felt exciting. I’m finally realizing college Taylor cheerfully doled out that nice, little nugget of advice but never really experienced it.

801 GrandHere I am, though, battling my own writing philosophy.

I’m experiencing permanence in new, riveting, frightening clarity every day. I ordered checks with my big-kid downtown address on them. I’m not thinking about where I’ll move at the start of the semester. My life no longer operates in five-month bursts of extreme stress followed by agonizing down time, one of the post-grad adjustments I hadn’t expected to struggle with so much.

And I’m honestly excited about all of it. But without the promise of some upcoming trip or move, I find myself wondering once again why I write about my life. If I’m “good enough” for it.

I never expected gaining more control in my life would fuel this menacing, pesky doubt regarding something I once considered a cornerstone, even a writing philosophy, as I mentioned earlier. It turns out you can exist in a permanent environment yet feel completely unmoored, betrayed by your own guiding force.

“Touristing in the motherland.” It’s a caption I like to write on Twitter with my latest wannabe-artsy photo of Des Moines, snapped typically on my late-night wandering in the city. I’m not traveling in the near future, but I’m making the effort to explore my home with the intent of discovering something new about me, about it, every time.

Capturing, say, the same building from different angles is a tangible, physical reminder that permanence and discovery aren’t exclusive. They coexist, and they’re worth capturing — whether in photography or writing.

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