Worth it.

I’m back! I’m back from Austin!  Hashtag South By Southwest, yeahyeahyeah!


Really though, SXSW helped me remember an important thing about life.  The thing is this; no matter what you choose to do, you’re gonna miss out on something great.

The question you’ve got to ask yourself, then, is, “is what I’m choosing worth missing what I’m missing?”

You picking up what I’m putting down?  Cool.

Here’s what happened; It was Friday.  Or Thursday.  It could’ve been Saturday, shit, I don’t know. Whatever day it was, both Vance Joy and Matisyahu were playing at two pm, and not in some wondrous Hebrew-ukelele-hip-hop-party-on-the-beach eargasm like you’d want.  No, they were playing on separate stages on opposite ends of the city at the same friggin’ time for the same friggin’ price of zero dollars and no cents.

Kill me.

I really wrestled with this decision, friend.  On the one hand it was the bearded legend MatISYAHU OMG ARE YOU KIDDING ME and on the other it was up-and-coming and Current Music Crush Vance Joy, of the land down undaw.  I hated that I had to make a decision and that either way I was going to be at some show wondering if the other one was amazing and where I “should” have been.

In the end I chose Vance at the Spotify house party, where booze was as free as the concert and I fangirled like a…fangirl.  vance-joyvance-joy-2

And I missed out on Matisyahu.

This is a very simplified version of what I’m really talking about.

On a deeper level there’s the whole Summer Camp vs Internship soul-searcher.  And yes, this was a real dilemma, because either option is a good and life-giving enterprise.  Either way it could be a beautiful, exhausting, growing and progressive opportunity.  (also either way it could be a Watch Jess Fuck This One Up opportunity, but I digress…)   Even after making the final decision I wavered hard.  I want to do the right thing, I want to be the right person, I want to be loved and wanted and valued and all of that.  I had to check my motives, hard, against so many boards to make the Summer 2014 Decision.

(Its Summer Camp, by the way.  Still.)

And at the core level, chew on this; I am a single (read; hopelessly) twenty-three-year-old scraping by in a 300 sq feet studio apartment in downtown Phoenix.  I have not graduated college, I have never had a job that required a skill-set above asking someone if they want fries with that, and I am not the fittest and prettiest bulb in the box.

I have, as I wept the other night at my buddy’s kitchen table, nothing to show for my life.

I’ve been having a really hard time with this lately.  I’ve been realizing that I’m not some hot young thang anymore; I am a grown-ass adult.  This is real life, David.  This isn’t the youthful rebellion phase anymore (which was adorable, by the way. Look at little baby teenage me!


this is the holy shit how-did-we-get-here-and-how-do-we-move-on part of this story.

And its making me sad.  I don’t want to go out anymore; I feel like I’ve squandered All The Things, and I feel old.  I feel like a failure.  I don’t want you to see me like this.

I can’t compete with those hopeful pretty girls who’ve just started college.  I can’t compete with those educated women who’ve fought for social justice and built beautiful communities around themselves.  I don’t even know why I feel like I’ve got to compete at all.

Listen, all I’m saying is that I’m aware I don’t have the paperwork, and if there even was paperwork, I don’t have the experience you’re supposed to put on a resume anyway.  I’ve mostly spent the last five years wanting to be somewhere else and laughing at inappropriate moments.

Back to SXSW though, because what the festival showed me is that I didn’t just happen upon this lifestyle.  It’s not like I woke up after five years and was like, “uh…what’s college?  How do you human?”

Playa please.  Here’s what happened; I spent my energy on things I valued, when I valued them.

I went on road trips.  I was part of a Jr High ministry for two years.  I fell in love.   I fell out of it.  I tramped around Australia.  I worked at restaurants so I could spend my mornings and afternoons gardening and growing relationships at Hope House.  I fell in love again.  I got scared and ran away.  Again.  I spent afternoons walking and being instead of working and planning.  I valued music and spent money on concerts.  I valued relationships and spent time with friends who I’ve lost, and my heart on men I was told not to.  I wanted to believe in my life.  I didn’t want to be part of a system.  I followed my passions to their logical conclusions and then left to chase another.rei

If I’ve got nothing to show for my life, I’ve at least got a lot to feel for it.

I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, I’m just saying it didn’t happen by accident.  I knew what I was getting into when I left home, and I knew what I was trading when I booked those flights.  I think either way, it would still be the same and I’d probably still mourn the life I’m not living, but this is what I’ve got right now.  This is it.  I could’ve been a young entrepreneur and click my heels on my way to work, wishing I’d gone on at least one extended drive, but I chose to be crouching in the dust with my Garden Club kids in my nasty old Chacos, wishing I at least had a degree, instead.

You will miss out.  I’m missing out.

But, friend, is it worth it to you?   Do you look at your tiny fucking apartment and sunburned shoulders and your three-to-five friends and your stupid hand-me-down clothes and think, “yeah, this is what I wanted”?


Because this is what I wanted.

This is what I forfeited that other life for, and I did it on purpose because it’s what I felt was the truest and the greatest good.  I believed in Australia over financial stability two years ago, just like I believed in being part of Hope House over South America more recently.  It was worth it.  Every last drop of it.

I wanna know, friend, what are you missing out on, and is what you’re doing worth missing it?


but sweet, for certain.

12 Comments on Worth it.

  1. I’m not sure what I’m missing out on; honestly haven’t thought too much until now. Probably concerts and carefree random days. Road trips. More traveling.

    But I wouldn’t trade the life I have for any of that. On this path I have my amazing, wonderful, pick of the litter husband. Three beautiful kids. It’s a dream and this dream is my life.

    It’s complicated. And seriously raising kids is horrible and fantastic depending on the second. But totally worth it.

    Every choice I made brought me to this point. Bad and good.

    And I’m happy.


    And I still adore you

    • I love this, and I love your family. I’m so glad the choices you’ve made have brought you where you are, because you have been such a blessing to me and our friends! Thanks for your honesty (“…horrible and fantastic…”, love that) and sharing!

      Miss you daily.

  2. own it. get it. work it grrrrrrl. I needed this tonight. I really did. By take 15 of my stupid speech for class I was over it, I was sure this, this school nonsense was a mistake. And then I remembered meeting Yael, who runs the Food Trust, my dream workplace, and she told me she was so proud of me for going to school with kids on my hip. And I did one more take.
    You make making choices easy, having you on my team, doing life with you? Always the good choice. Always worth it.

    • You’re so wonderful, Meg. Seriously the most steadfast encouragement I’ve got, and not even because you spin words so eloquently and know what to say all the time, but because your life is so damned on par with what I strive for. Thanks for living the way you do and letting me be part of the whole thing!

      P.S Yael sounds amazing and I’m so glad you got to meet her! Let’s feed Phoenix!

  3. One, Jess, I love you :) and not just in a you-write-well-and-we-get-along way, but in an I-feel-your-heart-value-your-opinion-and-love-your-brain way.
    Two, what an interesting concept! I feel like I’ve been thinking this but have had no words to put to it. What am I missing out on by being where I am? I’m going to start thinking about that more.

    • One, Amanda, I dig that our hearts and brains are peas in a pod. You, lady adventurer and writer, you inspire me and make me super excited that we’re only at the beginning of our friendship.

      When we get together on Sunday let’s discuss! heck^yes for wide-awake, intentional living.

  4. “If i can make at least one person smile, or pee their pants a little, then my day was not wasted”

    Stop thinking , enjoy the day.. and…
    Fuck it all!!

  5. Hi Jess, Your post captivated me, since you express yourself so eloquently, and it is a question I continue to ask myself (and I am nearly twice as old as you!).

    I think many human beings, particularly in the West, ask themselves about what they should be doing. To the point of obsession. Our thinking mind is always looking for something to do (or not do), or think about doing, or not doing. We have to do something!

    I feel being is where it’s at for the cool cat. We are human beings. As much as we can be with the moment, without feeling we have to do something, we will be given vital energy and wisdom (that comes in a feeling; how wonderfully strange). And I’m not – necessarily – saying that I suggest we retreat to a Himalayan mountain (although the view, I hear can be, breathtaking.)

    If we’re quiet, enough, we know everything we need. To this end, some meditate, which is fine if you like to sit and be (without thinking your doing something) Some find their special tune in music. Some sing to be. Some dance like there is nobody watching. Some write. My special vocation is sunset watching. :-)

    I like to believe that things we do where we feel like we are being, not doing, are the mark of our special talents, which we should follow, without concern of where we are going to. There will still be plenty to do.

    And your 23! You are still ‘young,’ although insightful and – clearly – have a penchant for writing. You’ve been doing something right!

    • This.

      This this this.

      I’m going to respond further later on, but know that your comment had my all teary-eyed. I am an emotional cupcake these days, of course, so it’s not that big of a deal.
      Dear Some Guy, pls be my friend. I watch sunsets too. And I’ll play the same Shakey Graves song over and over while doing it. :)
      Thanks for reading and caring and blah blah blah.

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