I know you think nobody knows you, but I do. Because you and me – we’re the same.
I bet in the year since you graduated, you haven’t done anything really exciting. Like me, you probably didn’t travel anywhere exotic. You probably didn’t do something radical or selfless that changed the world we live in – but if you did, I salute you. Perhaps you didn’t sleep in a tent on top of a mountain, or write a novel (I said I would, but I didn’t), or learn how to successfully bake a souffle. Instead, you spent a lot of time drinking, or feeling sorry for yourself, or both at the same time. You lamented, often, about how this year felt like it would never end. When someone asked you how things were going, there was one word for it: shitty.
You didn’t like your job very much, did you? Maybe you even hated it. It made you realize, daily, how undervalued you were, how underused you were. It gave you new understanding of the words “Don’t talk business in the elevator” (regardless of how much or how little you used an elevator) and “Keep your head down,” although a year ago at this time, upon the eve of your commencement, you were encouraged to face challenges head on, warrior-style, and bring that infectious fight you fostered as a co-ed to everything you did in the real world. You realized that the real world is filled with idiots and assholes, with people you thought you could look up to and aspire to be like. You thought there were people you could trust trust. You figured out that you can’t, probably the hard way.
Adulthood (#andallitsglory) scares you silly. You are paralyzed by your fears of not finding success, of not following your passions, of paying bills and keeping commitments and dealing with parking violations (thanks to the city of Boston’s extremely bored and attentive meter maids who are just aching to ruin your day, you’ve received a few of those). You used to be energized by the unknown, and it wasn’t long ago that you thought you were on the precipice of something truly great. Now, you’re constantly stressed. So you drink more coffee, you take it intravenously. You ask for gift cards to your neighborhood yoga studio for your birthday instead of jewelry or clothes, because you decide if there is any time to start forcing yourself to enjoy yoga, now would be it. You take deep breaths on your commutes home. You take stock in quietude, and try to check your attitude, but that doesn’t always happen.
And I’m willing to wager that someone kicked you while you were down. You had your heart broken, perhaps. They ate, shot, and left, leaving you to feel like a melodramatic fool. You listened to “I Can’t Make You Love Me” on repeat and selections from John Mayer circa Heavier Things, didn’t you? Yeah. That, or sex was scanter than it was in college, and you haven’t learned much since then, because you’re still doing it with people you shouldn’t be most of the time. You went on dates that were mediocre at best. You gave someone a shot for a couple of months, and you weren’t lying when you said you didn’t know what you wanted, though deep down you knew all along that they weren’t really it. How could you have known for sure? Everything was uncertain.
You felt like a broken record most of the time. But you figured out how to get up in the morning. You cried. You complained a lot to your parents. You tossed and turned some nights, and other nights you slept so soundly because you were just that exhausted. You learned to appreciate your therapist, who tirelessly listened to you sob or scream profanities about your boss to the tune of $125 an hour, despite the fact that writing her checks physically pained you and left gaping holes in your bank account. You quelled your resentment for teen stars who, several years younger than you, had achieved much more, like recording an unfortunately catchy single begging boys to call you maybe or getting engaged to Gale (it doesn’t matter if you’re Team Peeta, that ring is bigger than any rock you’ll ever get). You found solace in watching Girls with your roommate, never anticipating that Lena Dunham could have become your hero.
Most of all, you never knew how lucky you were to be surrounded by people who would sit across the table from you at Veggie Galaxy or Life Alive or some other crunchy granola restaurant and commiserate with you over egg white omelettes (you wanted pancakes but, among all the other heaviness you’re carrying around with you, you’re pretty sure all of the sympathy deserts you haven’t denied yourself this year are starting to add up) and tell you that everything is going to be okay. It will, they said. And you weren’t sure that was true, but it was good to hear it from the people you loved.
You’re tired, right? You’re so freaking tired. And you’re dejected, and you’re bored, and you’re hopeful that maybe this time, maybe, hopefully, it will get better. You’re wiser now, and you’re still clueless, but you’ve come to accept that that won’t change, because people who say they know exactly what they want really don’t, you tell yourself. You know what questions need to be asked now. And aren’t you skeptical? You’re not sure now of your own worth and of your own capabilities, because the confidence you’ve spent your life building has been pounded down like a piece of chicken breast and then pan-seared in hot oil. You swear you don’t know if you can do another year of it this way, right?
Yeah, me too.
But after years of willing myself to be separate and apart and different and unique, I have never been more glad to be part of something with other twenty-somethings, and even if that something is a whole lot of nothing. It feels good, that camaraderie, to know that you’re not alone. So, I know you think nobody knows you, but I do. You and me – we’re the same. We’re wonderfully different, but we’re the same. We’re going through the journey together.