Guest Post: Britta of It’s a Britta Bottle, On Choosing to Let Life Happen


britta lead 2

We’ve become multi-generational around these parts.

guest postI won’t point out by name the older of our friends here on the CD. It’s okay, though, to talk about the younger people. Younger people, such as today’s guest poster, Britta Buchanan of It’s a Britta Bottle! blog.

Britta’s on that brink of life we all knew at some point – with school behind us and the rest of our lives ahead of us. She writes brilliantly about the transition and her approach.

I hope her words also serve to remind us that we can find ourselves on this cusp in any part of life. This adventure isn’t exclusive to the young.

You’ll love Britta’s honest, conversational style.You’ll find common ground with her in a love for books, coffee and conversation. Give her a warm CD welcome, and be sure to check out her blog, too.

photo credit: Approaching Storm via photopin (license)
photo credit: Approaching Storm via photopin (license)

On Transition Periods and Why I’m Choosing to Let Life Happen

Last year at this time, I wouldn’t have been caught dead living the life I’m living now.

Last year at this time, I had just returned from a summer of interning at the National Postal Museum in Washington D.C. I was incredibly proud of the eight weeks I had spent as a curatorial intern at one of the prestigious Smithsonian Institution’s nineteen museums—even though I learned in the process that being a curator was actually probably the last thing I wanted to do with my life. I loved the research I had engulfed myself in, but I got bored with it rather quickly because that’s all I did. I wanted to do something more than research and writing and I was incredibly thankful I had discovered that during my internship instead of finding myself later unhappy in a graduate program or first job.

Last year at this time, I was preparing for my last year of college and I was nervous and anxious for the future. But I had a year of safety ahead of me, in my quiet little college town with my college friends by my side. A year of safety, where I could figure out exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

It only took me most of the school year to figure out that I didn’t have to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with my life by the time I graduated from college. Nor did I want to.

This last school year was a year of growth for me. A lot of growth. One of the most valuable things I took away from that period of growth?

Anybody who says you have to have your life figured out by the time you graduate from college is full of crap.

photo credit: Cappuccinos and coffee cake, baked in capp cups via photopin (license)
photo credit: Cappuccinos and coffee cake, baked in capp cups via photopin (license)

And so, today, I find myself living with my parents in my hometown. I work at a gas station espresso bar—a job I love, by the way—and am preparing to head to Thailand in about a month and a half. I’m heading to Thailand to teach English for an unspecified amount of time, and I can’t wait. Because I’m young. I’m twenty-two.  I’m heading to Thailand because, in the last few months of my undergraduate career, the idea of graduating and entering the workforce became so unappealing to me. An office job. Working 9-5. I didn’t want that, at least not right out of college. I wanted an adventure…a meaningful adventure. I’ve always wanted to live for a time in a foreign country. I wanted something new, I wanted something different. I wanted to be able to learn and grow from an exciting and worthwhile experience. Over the past year, I’ve developed an interest in education and I find the idea of teaching others so inspiring. So, when I found this Thailand opportunity, I jumped on it.

I have opportunities at my fingertip and I’m going to make the most of them. I don’t have my life figured out and that’s okay. I mean, let’s be real here—what’s life without a little adventure?

  • — — —

Above, when I said I wouldn’t have been caught dead living the life I’m living now a year ago, I wasn’t kidding.

Living with my parents, working a blue collar job just barely above minimum wage? Not having a definite plan for my future beyond Thailand? A year ago, I would have scoffed at all of this. I had big plans. Museum work. I wanted to move back to D.C. right after graduation. I wanted to prepare for graduate school in museum studies. And I wanted to dedicate my life to museum work.

Because I really loved the concept of that path? No. More so, because I didn’t know what else to do and I needed to have a plan. Because periods of transition scared the hell out of me and because I couldn’t sit around wasting my life.

What I failed to realize last year at this time, was how valuable some down time can be. What I’ve learned in the last year is that big things take time. They take work. They take effort. I’ve learned that you don’t always end up where you anticipated…and that’s okay. Working at a gas station espresso bar is an opportunity that came out of left field and it’s one of the most humbling and most rewarding experiences I’ve ever done for myself. It’s also something I would have stuck up my nose to last year at this time. This job, though…it’s given me the opportunity to learn and grow in an environment I’ve never worked in before. I’ve met so many different people from all walks of life whom I’ve already taken away so much from. This job has gotten me out of the sheltered, comfortable university atmosphere and thrown me into real world situations—and for that, I am unbelievably grateful.

— — — —
In the past year, I’ve learned to ignore the people who question my apparent lack of direction in life: “So, you’re going to Thailand in September—what are you going to do after that?” My response—why should it matter? I’m doing something that I truly want to do. I’m going on an adventure that will be life changing.

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/43632116@N00/213800883">Buddha @ Big Buddha, Thailand</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>
photo credit: Buddha @ Big Buddha, Thailand via photopin (license)

Yes, I have an idea of the career I want to pursue after Thailand. My dream is to be a genocide educator. I’ve had a weirdly strange obsession with the Holocaust since approximately age twelve; while my classmates in school were reading books about high school drama and catty girls—if they were reading at all—I was picking up and reading every single young adult novel about or related to the Holocaust that I could find. Somewhere around late March, early April, something clicked—I realized that I could turn that interest in some of humanities darkest moments into a passion—a passion for teaching others that “Never Again” should actually, really mean Never Again. So, that’s my dream now. But if I know anything about life, it’s that dreams change. And who knows the person I will become in Thailand.

I’m twenty-two years old. I have Bachelor’s Degrees in History and English. No, I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with those degrees so please stop asking. If I had a clear answer to that question, life wouldn’t be an adventure and I wouldn’t be satisfied. Because life is an adventure and people are all too often prone to forgetting that. I am finding that it’s these periods of transitions that can often remind people that the adventure only ends when you choose for it to end—whether that includes uprooting yourself to an entirely new country and culture like I’ll be doing in a handful of weeks, or maybe just picking up that hobby you’ve always wanted to try but have never found the time to. After all, adventure doesn’t have to be big—sometimes the best adventures are right under our noses. Sometimes, it’s the littlest things that make the biggest difference.

So, I ask you—think back to the periods of transition in your life….whether it was your own college graduation or something else; maybe relocating to a new area or changing jobs. Perhaps, if you’re much farther along in life than I am, it’s retirement. Think of those periods of transitions, those moments that may have scared you because you were moving away from what was comfortable.

And ask yourself—is it really so bad to not have a clear direction?

Personally, I believe that the most rewarding opportunities come when you least expect them.

Not having a clear sense of direction doesn’t mean I’m not driven or that I don’t have goals. I consider myself a very driven person and I certainly have plenty of goals. Being in this period of transition has taught me a lot, though. It’s forced me to consider my options—I could either melt into a puddle of anxiety (a feeling I am all too familiar with, I might add) and fear the unknown of the future or I could make the most of this time period and welcome the future with open arms.  Personally, I prefer the latter option. Of course, that doesn’t mean the latter option is a piece of cake, by any means. In fact, sometimes the latter option is absolutely terrifying—but I also know that, in the end, it will be worth it.

No, not having a clear sense of direction doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams for myself. It certainly doesn’t mean that I’m lost. More so, it just means that I’m open to life happening…and well, isn’t that what life is all about in the first place?

— — — —

So yes, I’ve learned a lot in the past year. And I believe I’ve really started living in the process.

College brought us together, but our adventures are just beginning.
College brought us together, but our adventures are just beginning.

britta2Britta is a recent college graduate who is trying her best to live life one day at a time and to its fullest. When she’s not blogging or writing in general, you can likely find her reading–most probably historical fiction, though she delves into other genres now and then, too–daydreaming, doing yoga, or spending time with friends. She spends most of her time these days scooping up milkshakes and pouring coffee drinks at a gas station espresso bar, while preparing to embark on her upcoming adventure to Southeast Asia, where she’ll be teaching English in a Thai school. Follow her on Instagram and Goodreads.

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95 Replies to “Guest Post: Britta of It’s a Britta Bottle, On Choosing to Let Life Happen”

  1. Wow, I totally couldn’t agree more and I actually did something similar back when I was young going out to work in an office in between getting my associates degree and bachelor’s degree. And I got to actually live and grow up a bit more. Best decision I ever made in my estimation and totally get this. Thanks for sharing with us Britta and wish you tons of luck with your exploration right now.

    1. Thank you for your kind words and well wishes, Janine. You’ve just made me so much more excited about this adventure that I’m already thrilled to be going on. I’m so glad you enjoyed this piece. 🙂
      Also, wow…you’re too kind, Eli. Thank you, too!

  2. I am all for grabbing the opportunities I’m given. I have had so many different jobs, lived in many different places. I like the way you think, Britta. I’m in a transition time now, too. After 17 years of always having at least one little kid with me all day every day, the youngest is heading off to school. The question I have been asked by everyone (except my husband) is, “what are you going to do?!?!?” Well, I’m sure something will come up.
    Have a marvelous time in Thailand. Embrace the opportunity!

      1. Best of luck to you in your transition period, too, Christine. I hope you’ll make the most of it!
        I will do my best to embrace it. It hardly seems real now, but when I get there it’s going to be so much all at once…I’m sure I’m going to have to remind myself to slow down and savor the moments I have there.
        So glad you enjoyed this post!

      2. I’m planning on it, Eli, I’m planning on it! The question is, will I remember/find the time once I’m there?
        Ah, heck, this virtual space has come to mean so much to me. I’m sure I’ll find a way to make time!

      1. It’s hearing stuff like that that from others that makes me really believe it, though. I know I’m brave in many ways, but hearing you and so many other people say it really reaffirms what I already know. Thank you, Eli.

  3. Beautiful post, Britta! Absolutely beautiful. Just like you, I have recently graduated college and have plans to teach abroad soon. During college, though, I would have never guessed that I would end up on this path: I had always considered getting into publishing and editing careers after graduation with book and magazine companies and had even applied to programs in them. Not that I’m not considering them as future options anymore, but recently I have been thinking of other alternative paths to take that I wouldn’t mind doing (and enjoying). As you had put it so well, it’s okay that we don’t need to have a clear plan after graduation, although so many people (including my family) say otherwise. In any case, I wish you the best in Thailand, and I very much look forward to future posts from you- domestic and abroad!

    1. Again, so glad to hear that you related to this post. I love that you’re so enthusiastic about it. Really means a lot to me! I’ll be sure to post both domestic and abroad, and I’m so glad to hear you’re excited to follow as my story unfolds.

  4. I have had the good fortune of following Britta’s blog for almost a year now and indeed she is an absolute inspiration to readers of any age and at any point in their lives! Thank you Britta for another amazing post here as a guest blogger for Coach Daddy blog!

    1. When Britta turned this is she worried it was too long – I told her a piece is too long only if it reads too long. This one makes us want to know the next chapter, doesn’t it?

      1. Check out Lia’s blog! Hers is one of my favorites (and you remind me, I actually need to catch up on her latest post still!)
        And you guys are too kind. I’ll just have to keep writing and posting, I guess. 🙂

      2. C’mon now, stop making me feel bad about being too busy to check WordPress! 🙂 Really, though, I’ve been keeping up on reading all the comments. Just not responding because, well, life. I’ll get to all of them in time!

  5. Awesome ideas! Especially the genocide education one. the world needs that!
    I say, after Thailand, you need to spend some time in areas like Rwanda. Write about it.

    People like to label their environment.
    College Graduate? What are you going to do next? Nah, not an overseas sabbatical, a “real job”!
    New boyfriend? When are you guys getting married? Newlyweds? When is the baby due? Go with the flow, people! Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.

    1. I surely will, Tamara!

      I’m trying my best to go with the flow. Easier said than done, that’s for sure, in a world where people just expect so much from others. Thanks for your encouragement!

  6. Wow! That is an incredible opportunity, Britta. Good for you for listening to your intuition and being courageous. 😀

    I remember feeling lost when I graduated from college. I didn’t have a job right away; and though I had an English degree, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I have an office / day job because of it now… but over the past couple years, I’ve learned what I really want to do. Now I’m pursuing it on the side, and paying attention to any “doors of opportunity” that I find along the way. So I know the feeling – even though it took me longer to reach the same point than you did. 😉

    Best of luck with your time in Thailand! Enjoy every moment of it.

    1. Thank you so much for you encouragement, Sara!

      Good luck to you as you pay attention to your “doors of opportunity.” It’s kind of scary, not knowing what’s going to happen next…but it’s also so exciting!

      1. I had that thought driving through the Smokies once a few years ago. You don’t see the road ahead, but you follow the curve and discover it. Then you start the process all over again.

      1. So. My plan for whenever I’m feeling down is to just refer back to the comments on this post. If I ever need a reminder of how awesome I am, this is where I’m going to find it. Again, thank you so much for your kind words!

      1. Me too. Because if I hate it, what am I supposed to say? Should I just pretend?

        (Kidding! I’ve already had a look around. Good stuff! No hating it.)

  7. Britta, you are right on track. I wish more young people or people of any age for that matter had your attitude. You are staying open to all the wonderful possibilities and opportunities that will come your way.

    1. Thank you. I wish more people had this attitude, to. I’ve had so many people look at me with so much discomfort when I tell them what I’m doing with my life…and I find that upsetting. Not because they don’t approve of what I’m doing–I could really care less what they think of me–but because people become so dependent on routine and safety that they really forget to live…and because I know that’s the reason for that discomfort.

      1. Thank you. 🙂
        Haha, or a new coffee drink or smoothie. There are these people that come into work on a daily basis and order the same thing every day. Its nice for me because I don’t even have to take their order anymore, but I would get so bored of that! I would kind of just like to tell them to live a little and try something new.

  8. Nice article, Britta. Well, here is how I feel (stealing one of your lines): Anybody who says you have to have your life figured out by the time you’re 50 is full of crap. Sometimes it feels my life is always in transition. So I think it’s great what you’re doing. If I was your age again I’d want to do the same. Though doing research in a museum does sound appealing to me….

    1. Thanks so much, Trent. Glad you enjoyed it.

      I think being in a constant period of transition is the best way to live. It’s good to have stability in life, but too much of it can do more harm than good, I think.

      My summer researching at the National Postal Museum was amazing! Like I said in the article above, I don’t want to do it for the rest of my life and I did get kind of bored with it in the end, but it was a truly wonderful experience. I got to do research at the National Archives, I got to spend my days with some of the leading museum professionals in the United States, if not the world, and I learned how freaking amazing Postal History is. It was a great time. If you ever have the opportunity to do museum research, I recommend it. 🙂

      1. As you grow older there has to be some stability, it is rigidity and stagnation which need to be avoid. When you’re young, well, do what you need to do! And the museum work does sound fascinating. Maybe someday I can have a second career….

  9. Life is meant to be a grand adventure….and take it from someone who did NOT go seek that adventure when she had the chance, and did end up in a boring office job for 12 years!!! I put that Degree to good use and paid off my student debt;which are victories in of themselves….. but, I never did get to see that great, big wide world of wonder that I had dreamed of. And now, I’m a “just a housewife and mom” —- what a waste, right? Wrong! In a strange turn of events, I AM exactly where I want to be right now, doing exactly what I want to be doing. And I realized that I didn’t really “lose” any dreams; the dream just changed. and that’s okay too, because LIFE is a grand adventure if we just take the time to fully be where we are at the moment.

    so yes! go do your thing and tell everyone else (who is probably miserable or they would not question you) to bugger off. Not all who wander are lost, right? *fellow English Degree holder*

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