After a long conversation with my friend over a glass of wine (okay, two, and she had a Bombay Sapphire and tonic that was mostly Bombay) about our collective mind state, I’ve finally come to the realization that I am not the only one who has pressure tank-worthy anxiety over my future.
While I am completely unable to speak for anyone but myself, I’d like to think people my age can relate:
1. What do I want to do with my life?
2. Should I start now?
3. What do I want?
4. How do I get it?
5. Why do I keep getting emotionally attached to people I know are awful for me?
6. Why do I care about being in any sort of committed relationship at my age?
7. Did I too things too soon/not soon enough?
8. When do I know “this is what I’m meant for”?
9. Am I meant for anything? Any real purpose?
10. Why the FUCK does gas cost so much?
I feel like that’s what your twenties are all about; not knowing what I want, wanting to know what I want, wondering how to get what I think I might want…I look at others I’ve gone to school with, high school or college, and see those that are working menial jobs, partying it up, and “enjoying their twenties”. But I can’t help but sit here in yoga pants on a Friday night and wonder if that’s what I want to attain. Not what everyone should attain, just me. Do I want to spend the last years of my so-called youth drinking in excess, rolling into work hungover craving Wendys, and having a terrifying multitude of casual hook ups with no real emotional connection, other than when I’m hormonal?
Should I instead push forward into the American dream of a good job, steady relationship, and reasonable slacks early?
I don’t ask these assuming either is right or the better choice in general, because I know it could be argued either way, but I ask these to myself wondering what would be best for me. When I focus too much on getting ahead, I find myself doing really well and having a sense of true inner harmony but I don’t have a social life. And that isn’t fulfilling. But when I lean toward the party attitude and spend too much money on shitty beer and painfully spicy liquor and make questionable sexual decisions, the rest of my life falls entirely out of place and I’m, again, not fulfilled.
I suppose the reasonable answer would be to balance both out. And that’s what I try to do, but it’s hard to not look back and regret even when I balanced out. Say I stay in tonight, do pilates and watch Sex in the City – I feel great tomorrow…until I hear about all the crazy fun other friends of mine had that I turned down, or worse, wasn’t invited to because I said I was staying in. Or vice versa.
Are people my age just more prone to feelings of self-pity and distrust in one’s own decisions? Is there ever one right answer? How does it become possible for one to feel at peace with all of their decisions, regardless of the outcome?
Recently, I drank far too much one night (I have no alcohol tolerance any more and forget that around groups of people) and let a stupid decision happen that I can’t take back but I know can’t be forgiven either. Do I chalk that up to my own stupidity and desperation after dealing with intense feelings of loneliness and devaluing myself because of, of all things, a man? Or do I remind myself that the other party is just as much to blame and while I made a bad decision, I’m human and I’m young and learning how to be an adult?
I really do like that 20-something mindset of: I’m going to fuck up sometimes. You’re going to fuck up sometimes. Let’s all just come to terms with it and move on.
But I can’t help the guilt, so I can now be either spineless or caring. At this age, I have this opportunity to really shape my own opinions of myself and others over again. Hopefully, I can also begin to shape a future for myself that’s as promising as the one I’ve fantasized about. Last night, I got into a fight with my parents over student loans. Not because they were doing anything wrong but because all I could think over and over was “if you hadn’t fucked up college, if you had done an internship, if you had spent less money on partying and stupid shit, if you had applied for jobs sooner, if you had – if you had – if you had,” and this full on party bus of shame and self-degradation sunk in and every time my mother asked, “But where is the invoice for this loan?” I thought about it more and I cracked and regressed to whining like a 15-year-old and, eventually, crying like one as well.
I’m really starting to understand what the next seven years of my life can mean for me. I’m just scared of them and I’m terrified of failure. Patients at work always tell me about how afraid they are of leaving because they’re afraid of the unknown. I’ve just taken to nodding slowly and saying, “Every single person deals with that fear. Every decision has a reaction. You have to take it day by day or minute by minute and believe that you are doing the next right thing.”
I just need to learn how to follow my own advice.