Here’s an odd thing: to pine after success, to pursue it and wish for it and define yourself by it and feel shut-out and isolated and despairing when you don’t have it… all while having no idea what it is.

This is what I said tonight to a friend: “I don’t know what I think success is, but I think it is oriented more toward happiness than big names and money.” Not profound by any stretch, but it certainly seemed enlightening to me in that moment.

In my eyes, at this moment, Colorado has happiness. Other places have big names and money.

On the plane today, I realized I was called by a big-name organization in DC about a position that I recently interviewed for over the phone. The man said he’d like to talk again for a few minutes. I didn’t think the interview went well, but I don’t know why else he would call but to figure out logistics and offer me the position. It is odd and a bit telling that when we talk tomorrow morning, I hope he doesn’t.

The position is an unpaid internship, which means, despite the name of the organization, it’s just another stint of white slavery and severe economic insecurity… only to be jobless once more in 3/4 months. I don’t want to be unpaid anymore. I want to buy food with money I earned myself. I don’t want to give in when my parents ask if I need money. I want to feel, at 23, like an adult.

Right now, I don’t want to be an unpaid rat for the big name org. I want to figure things out. I want to hike in the mountains and become a semi-capable runner. I want to read and recommend books, and do some research on the side for this start-up international organization with a good mission, and study for and take my GRE, and look into grad schools.

Happiness and the conventional, professional idea of it are starting to look confusing. At this age, every decision you make feels like you’re steering your whole life down a new path. You could avoid the iceberg, or sink and drown.

So which option is the iceberg?

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