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Twenty-three is an odd age to be.  Old enough to drink, but not old enough to rent a car. Typically, you are done with school (well, undergrad at least), you scooped up whatever job(s) were available (or maybe you got lucky and landed a dream job), and you are trying to figure out what’s next. But there is also this overwhelming sense of being stuck– stuck in the middle of something and you have no idea which way is out. To the high schoolers, you are old beyond your years. To the 20-something almost 30-somethings, you are a youngin’. To the 35+? You’re a kid, with less job experience than they are looking for, or, they can’t afford to hire anymore full time employees, or, maybe you just aren’t a “safe bet” and they aren’t willing to take a chance in this hard economy (is anyone else getting sick of hearing about “this hard economy”?).

So, you do what you can. You move in with your parents. You save some money, working at your job that pays you eight bucks an hour, hoping something better comes along, or hoping that one of the 20+, 30+, 40+ jobs you applied to finally decides they made a mistake when disregarding your application. You crawl out of the hole that is winter and try to reassemble some semblance of a life. Well, that’s what I did at least. But, I’ve also come to the conclusion that you don’t really owe anything to any job you have right now (unless you landed that sweet, sweet dream job). Sure, show up on time, be reliable, work hard when you are there, be professional, yada, yada, yada. But do you really want to work as a sales associate in the mall the rest of your life? No, not really. (Even if retail IS your life, you still want to work your way up the totem pole, right?)

With this new found freedom, I am taking time to rediscover myself. It started off with a wishy-washy idea of wanting to go on a camping trip, maybe for a week, maybe hiking, maybe a river trip, maybe with some friends? But I’m sick of wishy-washy shit, and wishy-washy attitudes, so, I requested off three specific days (before the summer got away from me). A three day weekend. In hindsight, maybe I should’ve taken off three days in the middle of the week. Alas, hindsight is 20/20, and lots of other cliches. So, a solo camping trip, Friday to Sunday, filled with time to love Mother Earth, to love myself, to love nature, to love silence and the simplicity of reading a book on a lake, or writing a book in a tent. What could be better?! And the whole camping part? That’s only half the fun. The drive up (and back) is a full 4 1/2 hours of me time. I am making the conscious decision to turn off my phone for the entire journey (like anyone would try to get a hold of me anyway). And music? There will be so much music. My car only has a tape deck, so I also went rooting through my old boxes of junk in search of all the old tapes I had, and the ones that my family listened to on all our road trips up north and around the Midwest. There will be Tracy Chapman, R.E.M. (RIP), Bruce Springsteen, Aladdin, No Doubt, and maybe even a little Rent. And if I ever find my tapes, throw in a little Ace of Base, Sugar Ray, Prince, Jewel, and more No Doubt. I also have plans of canoeing and hiking, and maybe a visit up to Grand Marais, because, why not? I am going on vacation. And Beth’s Fudge Shop has some damn good fudge (chocolate with caramel on top? yes PLEASE).

This trip didn’t have to be a solo trip. I asked a few people, put out some feelers for any who wanted to join, but getting time off ain’t easy and we all have lives to live. The stars just didn’t align. In the end, you will always be stuck with yourself (and really “stuck” may be a bit negative, we should all be so lucky to spend time with ourselves and no one else!). So why not spend more time getting to know yourself? Discover yourself, learn to have fun alone, and most importantly, learn to love yourself. Those are my plans for the weekend at least. Whatever happens, happens.

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