Honestly, from the looks of things, I’m not sure any of us ever feels truly comfortable or has it all figured out.
Yes, there are many things that get easier with age, most of which have to do with more money and less caring about what other people think.
I’ve been where you are. I had a whole year and a half where I was interning and waitressing…at 25, still figuring out what the hell I was doing. Four years later and I am able to work for myself, I live with my boyfriend, and I am able to not kill the cat (the succulents were not so lucky).
But these things don’t happen over night. Everything changes slowly, so you can’t always see it. Just trust me that whatever you’re experiencing is temporary, and the cool thing about your twenties is that your entire life can radically change in an instant with one decision, one phone call, or one freaking tweet.
And it will. MANY MANY TIMES. Be excited for your roller coaster.
At what point did things stop feeling like emotional motion sickness though? When did it at least slow down? I think 27 was a turning point for me personally. I feel like I had a moment where everything became clear and I thought, “Oh, this is who I am! I make sense now. I can stop trying to be everybody else.”
At 29, things feel much more stable, but I still have unfulfilled dreams and near future worries and fears. I don’t necessarily worry about paying my rent, whether a text means something or not, or if I like my job. But I still worry; it’s just different.
I worry about marriage, IRAs, having kids, buying a house, stress levels, why my knees hurt, flossing, finding time to write…And although those seem like much bigger concerns, they feel the same as how scared I was to go to college, or how much it hurt when my high school boyfriend broke up with me.
It’s all relative. Things change and evolve, but they feel the same. A worry is a worry, and something really awesome is something really awesome no matter how old you are.
I was at a concert last night — a low key performance in a stranger’s backyard — when my peripheral vision caught a boy in a beanie. My heart stopped for an instant. Was it THAT boy? The one boy who once took up all the space in my brain, but has remained a literal after thought since he told me he couldn’t see me anymore because his girlfriend was on to him.
Scenarios ran through my head like splitting hairs, detailing the different ways our encounter would play out. As the band of cute boys from Vegas played their stripped down set, I imagined what I would say if I took the high road, the low road, or maybe even no road at all. Did I need more lipstick or a new stick of gum? Who would be the bigger person and nonchalantly say hello? Would we just ignore the elephant of our aged affair?
And then, I looked again, and I realized it wasn’t him. I felt a little crestfallen, disappointed that I wouldn’t have the chance to let my cool breezy attitude make him feel remorse for the way he had treated me seven years ago. Because, of course, that’s exactly what would happen; I’m sure of it.
I hadn’t thought about this person, who’d made me feel a little less than when I was twenty-two years old, in so long, but suddenly this phantom sighting erupted dormant resentment.
I kept shooting side glances at this, albeit better looking, impostor, squinting my shitty vision just to make sure it wasn’t him. And, just to be mean to my own brain, for a few masochistic moments, I pretended it was him for no other reason than to childishly poke a weird little immature beast inside me.
(Summer of bad decisions)
Maybe the inner dialogue I had with myself was a form of closure I didn’t know that I needed. I thought I had taken care of all that many years and many boys ago.
And, really, it wasn’t closure with him. It was closure with myself.
He didn’t actually reek havoc on my emotional life; it was me who created it, indulged in it, and let him crawl in and nest under my skin. It was illicit, exciting, and a gross way to kill my time.
I think, even at such a young age, I knew that sleeping with the decidedly unattractive, yet appealing, bartender with a girlfriend was entirely my responsibility. Any sour feelings that arose as a result were my fault.
It’s always a little harder to gain that closure with yourself, forcing you to face your own little personal demons. I thought I had squashed them, made peace with them, and even made up for them with mature good deeds in the years that followed.
But, if that boy in beanie last night proved anything to me, it’s that those little bad decisions, those people you let affect your emotional — they’re always going to be there.
No matter how old I am, where I go, if I think I see I ghost, I’ll probably pretend that I really saw the walking emotional dead, internally tell him how great I am, let him know what a blip on my life he was, and give myself just a little more closure.
Tonight, in my improv practice, I said something in a scene. Like most things said in improv scenes, it was an organic, straight from the gut response said without much thought.
I said, “I’m desperate for a narrative.”
It struck a chord as only a genuine truth can. Aren’t we all just looking for a narrative to claim? A story, an arc, a thread to call our own. A defining thesis that makes sense of all of our missteps, accidental wins, mistakes, and lessons?
Aren’t we all trying to find the “this is me,” wrapped up in a nice witty play on words bow to present to the world?
Something to tell strangers in bars, first dates, parents, prospective employers, and maybe even the nice Trader Joe’s cashier you seem to get every time.
We’re all desperate for a narrative that’s unique, special, and possibly profound, but at the same a universally relatable experience that begs for slow nods and praises in the form of double tapped hearts.
Everyone wants to share their story one square-cropped photo at a time. A feed brimming with well-crafted filtered photos of bottomless mimosa brunch, perfect skies seen from a picnic blanket in the park, new expensive shoes with a bird’s eye perspective, and a row of lipstick smiles from faces of friends pressed together.
We’ve all got a story, but it’s never the one we want to tell.
OMG. I <3 the Internet.
I suffered through a very painful, and very frizzy puberty that spanned an unusual length of time. I do nothing to make my hair so perfect, and I have earned it.