23 & Me
Another year older and one step closer to using my age as an excuse to go to bed early. I thought I’d take the time while I’m sitting here, at work bored to reflect. It’s truly crazy to think about where I was a year ago compared to where I am today. This time last year, I was fresh out of college with only the mindset of returning to Disney in my head. I had already been accepted to my second college program at that point and was just awaiting my departure date back to Florida.
It was the start of summer and no where wanted to hire me for two months before I left, so I turned my attention to painting. I sold items at the local farmer’s market and commissioned (Disney-themed mainly) artwork to make some spending money. It made me panic a little for sure. Here I was a new graduate with a college degree in hospitality, about to start another internship, painting on the weekends to make pocket change. I was worried that I was somehow doing things wrong. I was worried that I wasn’t going to have any stability and for the next few months that would most certainly be the case. I also worried that I was chasing a dream and should have stayed home and buckled down to a “real job.”
As time went on and the summer slowly started to pass by, I tried to level my anxiety by going to the gym to pass the time. Although this was very beneficial, like past bad experiences, made me a little too focused on food and dieting which with me is never a good thing. I just had too much spare time on my hands. I know many people look at that like a blessing, but there is a healthy balance of being busy as well as having relaxation time that I prefer. Too much extra time just leads to your mind spiraling down paths it shouldn’t.
Sitting here now, I know I will definitely miss summer moments from back home. Early morning runs along the beach, family cookouts (or just food from a grill in general), and movie nights with friends. But I also know where I am now is a good spot and gives me the freedom to visit home from time to time.
When the summer eventually came to an end, it finally started to sink in that I was actually going back to Disney again to work. Of course I was mainly excited because it also mean’t seeing my Disney friends again, but it also mean’t slave labor work standards. It was kind of like going from zero to sixty. Going from barely working at all, to not even knowing what sleep is anymore. It was definitely nerve-wracking to say the least. But nonetheless I persisted and we started our 20 hour stretch to Florida.
Upon arriving back to Florida, it felt like my whole world started to make sense again. I was reunited with friends I hadn’t seen in well over a year at that point, and it felt as if I was back into my usual environment of park life.
Starting at the Emporium led to only more stress at first. Even as a guest, walking into that store for the first time is beyond overwhelming. The crowds and number of products tend to make most just turn around and walk right back out. After a few days of training though, I started to see it as a challenge I was willing to face.
As the months went on and the holiday parties hit, it was definitely a trying time but also one I will never forget. I loved my Emporium family, they always had my back when times got tough. But on top of that, witnessing the holidays from the Emporium was something I will never be able to experience anywhere else. Sure the guests were awful at times if you ran out of exclusive products or didn’t have everything on their Christmas wish list, but those weren’t the experiences I remember. What I remember is working till 2am and peeking out the window to get the first glimpse of Cinderella’s Castle testing their Christmas icicle lights. I remember as soon as the clock struck midnight on Halloween, Christmas music started blasting throughout the store as the decorating crew came in and started to tear down all the Halloween decor, only to put up presents and trees in its place. I remember on Christmas eve, watching Holiday wishes and having Santa walking around the backstage area handing out candy canes to all the hard working cast members. Those are the memories I remember and will always remember.
I experienced my first set of holidays without my family. That was an extremely hard time for me. Although I have great memories of my make-shift family down here getting together for Thanksgiving and Christmas, it still wasn’t easy. At all. I honestly hope I never have to do it again, but I was proud of how my Disney family down here was able to come together and make sure no one felt truly homesick. Turkey and all.
I became a home owner for the first time ever. Well home-leaser I guess you could say. This was the biggest step of my entire life basically. It was nerve wracking and still can be when things go wrong, but overall it made me finally feel like a true adult. I finally had a room that was entirely mine to create. I had a bathroom of my own and a space to decorate. A safe place that I could come home to every night and feel at complete ease. A place to escape the woes of the day and just rest in absolute peace. A sanctuary to call my own.
I’ve paid my own bills, budgeted my time and money wisely, and done other adult chores that come with home owning.
During this time is when I also starting getting extremely nervous of my life past January. I didn’t know if I wanted to extend my internship, apply for other internships or just bite the bullet and apply for full-time. That’s when the whole miracle of me becoming a VIP tour guide came into play and I definitely wouldn’t have changed that experience for the world.
Suddenly I felt some slight relief, I had a plan for at least another six months of my life. VIP gave me another amazing support system among my fellow VIP Interns. It gave me long days filled with Florida heat, but it also gave me the chance to meet some amazing people and some interesting VIPs. It gave me some hilarious Snapchat memories that will make me feel nostalgic every time I look back on them. I wouldn’t have traded that experience for the world either, and I would have enjoyed staying until the end of my internship, but I also think that would have completely destroyed the magic for me. I was just about over VIP by the time I changed positions and honestly, looking back now, I ‘m happy I ended when I did. Even though I missed my fellow interns like hell not working with them every day.
This time also included some of the longest stretches I have ever been through without seeing my family, or travelling home. I still haven’t been home in almost six months (I visit on Thursday finally!!).
I definitely still trip up from time to time (or all the time) but I feel like in retrospect, I know I can tackle almost anything in terms of adulthood at the moment. Of course this is not true in any aspect whatsoever, but its a nice incentive I tell myself to try and motivate myself for whatever challenges might arise in the future.
Starting my full-time job at the Waldorf Astoria was almost like the concrete setting all the bricks into place. Not only at this point do I have a house, paying my own bills, doing groceries, laundry, etc, but now I have an official full-time job. Hello my name is adult Victoria over here.
I also officially joined the cult and became an Annual Passholder not only at Disney, but also at Universal. I experienced my first Butterbeer guys! Hold the applause.
So my year in review? I’m 23 years old. Still love being a mix of a five-year old in a grandma’s body. Still love to read (My rooms min library is starting to grow a little too large to fit), still love to hangout with my friends, and still love Disney (just not the working in it part). But in just the short time span of a year I became a graduate, did another Disney College Program, lived the dream as a Disney VIP Tour guide, survived my first set of holidays without family, became a house-owner, got a full-time job at a five-star hotel, got two annual passes, and boom. Here I am today.; Still kickin, still trying to thrive, and definitely still trying to find a healthy balance between it all, Panic attacks still included, level-headed mindset sold separately. All good things, but still some settling into things to be done. Still some growing up to do for sure. But hey. I’m doing it. No matter how hard I find it to be at times (most times). I am still here and I’m still standing. Just saw Rocketman last weekend, highly recommend.
ANYWAYS. That’s all for now folks. Hope you all enjoyed my mid life crisis rant. 🙂