Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Stress and Questions

As it always does this time of year, the stress of the holiday season has been wearing me down slowly, more and more each day, as Christmas is drawing near. I typically have last minute shopping to do for my family and friends because I am unable to buy all of my gifts in advance, but this year I am dreadfully far behind previous years. It could be because of the fact that this year my budget seems to be tighter, so gift choices need to be made on both personal and economic levels, but this excuse seems unlikely, considering it is my first Christmas with a real job out of university. Last year, for example, I was student teaching 5 days a week, with a full-time schedule and a negative income (still paying for school and not earning anything for my teaching), but I was still able to complete my Christmas shopping by buying everything online before the end of October! By this time last year I was happily wrapping my gifts, listening to Christmas music, and relaxing with a big cup of hot chocolate next to the fireplace in my parent's old home. This year, however, Christmas is just over a week away and I have only gotten gifts for my dad, my nephew, one of my nieces, and of course Lyoshka, and I am more stressed than I have ever felt! What changed? Let me explain.

Last year I had an entirely different life in San Luis Obispo. I was a happy, busy student with a clear future path ahead of me. I had no doubt in my mind that I would find the best job in the world, teaching either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade after I graduated with a B.S. and a teaching credential. Little did I know that just a month after winter break I would be moving to Sonoma County, leaving my familiar, safe life behind. Without a job, my parents, or my childhood friends, all I had up here were 3 friendly girls who gladly accepted me as their new roommate. Today, these 3 girls are some of my closest friends after sharing a life with them for nearly a year. They supported me through my first job interview and one of my first experiences of being a newly single girl.

After several months, my parents decided that there was no reason for them to continue their life in San Luis Obispo, despite how much they loved their home and the friendly, familiar town in Southern California, because both my sister and I had migrated to Northern California. My parents sold their home and bought a new one much closer to my sister and I, with the faith that we would not be leaving them any time soon. Although my parents live approximately 40 minutes north of me, it is still convenient for me to visit them whenever necessary, and we enjoy meeting in Santa Rosa for dinner about once a week when I get off work. This whole plan seemed to be working out, but I always knew that my job would be temporary until I could find a better one, which always frightened my mom. With the bad economy, I found myself in a rut because I was grateful to have a job, but I still searched for other opportunities, with little hope and little motivation. This seemed to be an ongoing cycle until I met a boy in July who lived two hours south of me.

I have always been a romantic girl with perfect ideals for how love and life should work out for me, but the idea of moving for a boy even scares a girl like me. When I moved to Sonoma, I imagined I would be here for a very long time if I found a good job and fell in love, then built my home just miles from my parents. I had toyed with the fantasy of moving to the Peninsula so that I wouldn't have to cross a bridge to get to San Francisco, but this just seemed like a dream that probably wouldn't come true because I never had a logical reason to live there.

I love where I live now, not only because I am close to my parents, my sister, and my new friends, but also because there is not as much traffic, crime, or unreasonably priced real estate in the North Bay. Lately, I have been under a lot of pressure to find a new job with a higher salary, but I am worried about moving away from my parents. Recently, my family experienced a life-threatening scare with my dad, which has made me even more hesitant to leave them. Right now, my whole life is in Sonoma, but the one person who has the potential to be the main component of my life lives in Santa Clara. What is a girl to do?

Not only do I have presents to worry about this Christmas, but I also have 2 handfuls of other issues on my plate right now that I am trying to deal with in the middle of my favorite holiday season! Perhaps my dad's healing was a sign that I can move on, or perhaps it was a sign to show me how badly my family actually needs me to be near to them in case of another emergency. Either way, all I can do now is pray for some answers and some stress relief. Perhaps an unbiased opinion from a reader can help me as well :)

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