Life is Chaos

Insights Life Is Chaos

Back in high school, my physics teacher had several posters tacked on the walls around her room; each one slightly crooked. To a group of high school girls, this was not okay. Every day we said, “Mrs. Lil, you need to fix these.” Every day she responded, “Life is chaos, you’ll need to learn to live with it.”

And she was right, but I think I first experienced what she was referring to a little earlier on. Like many people, I struggled to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. For me, this was something that had weighed on my mind since middle school. After all, I often compared myself to my older brothers, Charlie and Michael, who seemed to have it all figured out before I was even in high school. I thought I wanted to follow them into the medical field. But, after volunteering at a hospital for a week, I quickly realized I was not suited to working directly with patients. However, I did enjoy working away from all the action with the hospital’s biomedical engineer. I liked that I could still help people by working behind the scenes and became fascinated with the inner workings and circuitry of the medical equipment, leading me to pick Electrical Engineering as my major in college.

All was well during college, but I continued to learn that “life is chaos.” While looking for internships, doing research, preparing to study abroad, and keeping up with rigorous engineering classes, a global pandemic hit. Suddenly, getting an internship became next to impossible, studying abroad fell through, and even making new friends proved challenging given the new regulations for social distancing. As hard as it was to accept, this was the new normal. I needed to learn to live with it and make some adjustments. With nothing else to rely on, I often fell back on my close friends and roommates who helped me get through it all.

As I began to get the hang of the chaos of the pandemic, I needed to get back to thinking about my plan for the future. I applied to internship after internship, but companies were taking on fewer interns to comply with regulations and it became increasingly difficult to stand out from my peers. The stress overwhelmed me. If I had so much trouble getting an internship, how could I hope to get a job where most “entry-level” positions require 1-2 years’ experience? Moreover, I was constantly hearing of companies laying off a substantial amount of their workforce. If I got a job at one of these companies, would I be laid off in a few years? A few months? Between paying rent and student loans, would I even be able to save money for an emergency fund if this happened? Needless to say, I found it difficult to feel confident about entering the work force amidst the chaos of the current times.

Alexa And Brothers
Alexa and her brothers celebrating her college graduation.

Fast forward a few months – I graduated college and fortunately began my first full-time job… with Altieri! As much as I thought things would get easier, entering the workforce came with its own set of challenges: from navigating a new environment with new people to having no idea how the phone at my desk worked. Still, I feel more at ease and prepared to face the challenges in front of me. I’ve learned to live with the chaos of life: playing things by ear and taking each opportunity as it comes to learn. All I can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

In 2023 alone, I’ve been able to accomplish so much: graduating, finding a job, signing a lease, and living on my own. Honestly, it doesn’t feel real that I’ve made it this far. At the same time, I’m learning there are plenty of things I wasn’t prepared for like living over an hour away from home. I’ve found I miss hanging out with my friends whenever I want and I miss living with my brothers. There are times when it’s difficult being so far from everyone, but I’ve been able to work around it by actively keeping in touch with everyone and being unafraid to start new friendships.

I am proud of how I navigated my first year as an independent adult. In looking back over the year – and knowing that an important part of the journey is figuring it out for yourself – I remind myself of 3 valuable lessons I learned: 

  • The first of which is trying not to worry so much. I think I would have saved myself a lot of stress (and time) if I’d been more present in the moment. I do think everything happens for a reason and, when the opportunity presents itself, it’s important to use your doubts to prepare as best you can, but still take the leap. I’ve learned that these doubts are not always your enemy, and I’ve been able to use them to help me manage my expectations and temper my resolve to make it on my own.
  • The second is that it’s important to be open minded. You never know what life will throw your way. You might think something isn’t for you, then you try it and love it. Likewise, you’ll never know what might not be for you. It never hurts to visualize how a change will affect you in the future, but there’s also no way of knowing for sure until you commit. I don’t speak for everyone, nor do I claim to, however, there will always be “leaps” that need to be taken. Sometimes you slip and fall, but sometimes you land on your own two feet and wonder “how the heck did I even make it this far?”
  • The final lesson is recognizing what I can and can’t control. When I was younger, I hated drastic sudden changes. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to embrace those changes and make the most of them with the tools I have at my disposal.

2023 held a lot of changes for me. At the start of it, I couldn’t imagine what I would be doing and how I’d be living my life by the end of it. Life is chaos, but that doesn’t mean that chaos is always a bad thing.