“My Life is the Anti-Bro” or “Holy Shit I’m an Adult”

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.

– a.

So, I joined a gym.

I am 23 years old and I have never had a gym membership. Up until last week, you could hear me yowling up and down the streets of Frederick/Middletown/Shippensburg/Chambersburg/Prague…probably that gyms were useless money sucks and that anyone with the motivation to get off their ass to drive to the gym definitely had the motivation to get out and go for a run. This was, of course, before soul-splitting shin splints kicked in and I quite possibly gave myself a stress fracture trying to ignore the pain. 

So, I girded my loins and cried a little bit on the inside and tried out a few different gyms. I tried SoldierFit (a Maryland thing…for now), which was a fantastic workout with a great sense of camaraderie but was also about 60 dollars a month. When I have 60 dollars a month lying around, I will bathe with it. Or, as my friend Paul put it so delicately last night, “roll it up and smoke it.”

So I tried again. I’ve done the Planet Fitness shindig before with my friend Christine (who also, interestingly, brought me along to SoldierFit) and while it was a lovely plethora of metal creatures all lined up and waiting for me kill myself on, there wasn’t much structure. No pool, no classes, and a terrifying stand up tanning booth that I physically took about six steps out of my way to avoid. Sure, ten bucks a month is actually pretty doable for me, but, again, there wasn’t much there I would have trouble getting a hold of elsewhere. I justified it like this: I have a yoga mat, medicine ball, and rather heavy books, what else do I need?

That justification didn’t last too long when I went almost two months and GAINED THREE POUNDS. Sure, a combination of drinking with friends, eating pad thai on purpose, and lazy mornings also affected that as well, but, I wasn’t getting out as much. It was starting to get too cold out to go running at night (shut up, I know). I rarely had time in the mornings and insert about four other excuses here. I was losing motivation…fast. 

So, my friends Liane and Meara brought me out to Fitness First, a gym with a few locations in Frederick. They still didn’t have a pool, which stinks, but they have so many different classes and when you sign up you get a fitness assessment, which really helps to gauge where you are in relation to fitness. I took a kickboxing class, a few total body conditioning classes, and just had my fitness assessment today and I’m actually pretty happy with my decision to join. Staff are more than friendly and helpful, the classes have kicked my ass, and I’ve had yet to wait in lines (which I had to at Planet Fitness a few times).

Though I’m fighting my inner conspiracy theorist (damn the man and all that), I know I needed to join a gym to actually keep working out in winter. I’m like a bear; I eat EVERYTHING in the fall and wrap myself in a snuggie and don’t leave the couch until April. And that’s, you know, bad in some cultures.

I did have an interesting experience today in the ladies locker room (woah guys, calm down. no, really. calm down.), when I saw roughly five separate middle aged women wandering through the locker room with their nonsense hanging out all abundantly. I was appalled! And then, I was appalled that I was appalled. Why would something like the human body ever freak me out? Especially a human body that has all the same parts as mine? I shout from the rooftops appreciating others and appreciating ourselves and getting past taboos but then there was one staring me right in the face. When did it become so taboo to be naked around others? It wasn’t even the body that bothered me; I have to see naked women at work for strip searches (…love my job) all the time, it was the lack of care. I was almost jealous that a woman could feel so comfortable in her own body. And these ladies weren’t all yogalates-toned fit nazis, they were middle-aged women of average statures. 

Has my generation become more uncomfortable with their body? Is it just an “age” thing that I’ll understand when I’m older? Do I still have too many hormones raging around my body?

Hm, a lot of questions. Maybe I’ll ponder them over my cappuccino, which yes, I did buy from a local small business. I have to damn the man some way!

More later,

-A.