...Wow, I haven't written an update here in a year. It's strange, it really doesn't feel like that much has happened since the last post, yet so much time has slipped by. In the spirit of the previous posts, I suppose I should first share what has happened in my life in the last 383 days since posting previously.
The first thing, of course, was that I landed a job. It pays reasonably well, and I've acquired a lot of valuable experience for my career, so that's good. Shortly after, I moved out of my parents' house to an apartment a short distance away. Got a car, started paying for insurance, buy weekly groceries -- yep, officially a bona fide adult.
Also, my Magic Judging activity has exploded. In the last four or five months, I've been judging a local event just about every weekend, I flew out to Denver to judge a Grand Prix in January, and I'm in the process of packing for a trip to Vegas to judge another this next week. Plus I'm hopping around to stores all over the area to work with new candidates and coordinate with stores about future events. On any given week I've probably gone to two or three different stores, which is kind of insane.
So, that is factually what has gone on in my life. I suppose this is a bit terse compared to previous posts, but I'll be honest in saying it has felt like a big blur of monotony for the last year. Not necessarily in a bad way, just that everything has been much more routinized than while I was going to school. Which gets me to my real interest in making this post.
By all accounts I should have some satisfaction with where I am in life. I'm making plenty of money to pay for my needs and wants, working in a field I enjoy, and have a well-developed hobby that is not only meaningful to me, but has started paying for itself. I have a fairly extensive network of friends (albeit mostly tied to a trading card game), and I've even gotten a bit of local celebrity attached to my name around the tournament scene (which is a bizarre sensation, by the way).
Yet despite everything, I find myself feeling melancholic. I read posts from my friends in college -- people who by all accounts should still be my peers -- and simply can't relate with them as I once could, even just one year out of school. At best I reflect with rose-colored glasses on a time that once was, but feels so distance. At worst, I catch myself thinking in terms of the jaded elder: "Just wait until you get to where I am now."
And my new venue is not much better. Those who feel like peers to me now are 30 - 40 somethings who have families and children. In fact, among all 18 or so employees at my place of business, I'm one of possibly two people who are single, one of only four who don't have children. At least two have grandchildren. Every day has conversations about how they were woken up in the middle of the night by the two-year-old, or how their first grader got an A on their spelling test. I'm left with literally no perspective beyond "Wow, children still sound gross. I'll stick with being single."
I guess it just feels like I leapt straight from easygoing college years to homogenous middle-class life, and it's all very alienating. I long for the life I had a year ago, but by all cultural norms the life I have is quantifiably better. Though everyone says I should work to build my career, and I suppose in a way I want to do that myself, it always feels like investing more in my job means stepping further from that life I used to have, and I guess I'm scared to let that go.
But it's funny, because through my experiences in judging I know all too well how rewarding investment and commitment to self improvement can be. Certainly I invest a lot more time into judging than I did before, and not always on jobs I love to do. However, at the end of the day I love what I do, and I love the feedback I get from players at the end of a day's work. I love having people ask me questions when they see me in a shop. I especially love those small Facebook shoutouts: "Thank you to Store X for hosting a great event, and thanks to the judge staff for being awesome!" And I could have that in programming too, I just need to put my time in, and find ways to progress.
Nevertheless, I can't help but feel out of place where I am now, and a little sad that things like posting dA journal entries or Tumblr posts feels quaint, when it's really a way to keep in touch with old friends. I just wish it didn't have to feel that way anymore.