You’re waiting for the day when it doesn’t feel like you’re fighting to keep your head above water. You thought by this time you would have things figured out. Or at least you would have something figured out. You would be more settled. Happier. Freer from the bullshit of your early twenties. But, you’re creeping past the mid-twenties mark and some days, it doesn’t feel that different from 21. It still feels so uncertain and you still feel like you’re walking across this rickety drawbridge bound to break at any second.
You want to stop being such an emotional ass all the time. You see older people who remain unruffled by most situations, and you wonder why your fuse always seems to blow before you can will it to do the opposite. You wonder how much energy, time and emotion you’ve wasted mustering up all of the exasperation you have and releasing it. Over and over and over again. You know you’re not as much of a whiny prick as you used to be, but some days you still have the propensity to be an unabashed and self-absorbed asshole. Hey, at least you recognize it.
Every now and again, you let yourself tumble down the rabbit hole of social media that says you should be on some sort of path to marriage and babies by now. You see the same people you threw back shots with only a few years ago bringing home little Baby Chelsea with a giant bow adorning her bald head. And all you can think is that maybe, just maybe, it’s time to stop hooking up with that guy you never loved and never will. Maybe, just maybe, you should stop texting your ex. Maybe, just maybe, every friend with benefits has his expiration date. Maybe, just maybe, emotional masochism is ruining you. Maybe, just maybe, there is this hidden and tender part of you that’s ready for the alchemy of love.
If it’s not happy hour or brunch, it ain’t happening. Why on God’s green earth are people still inviting you to things that start past 9 p.m.? Sleep is manna from the gods and people need to start treating it as such.
If you believed in clichés, you would say this is that awkward metamorphosis when you go from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Except you don’t believe in clichés, so you just feel all out of sorts in situations and relationships where you were once comfortable. You are watching things change. You’re watching the layers of your early twenties shed. You are having a head-on collision with the reality that this is the point where everyone’s paths start to diverge and friendship is not as effortless as living three doors down. So, you fight to forge common ground. And you reluctantly begin to grasp the truth that you can’t nourish relationships from the vestiges of good old memories. You know now, more than ever, who is in it for the long haul. Even if things change. Even if the layers shed. Even after you’ve had a head-on collision with the reality that paths are beginning to diverge.
You’re impatient and antsy and never quite satisfied when it comes to your dreams. And like so many other aspects of life, you feel like it’s time to shit or get off the pot. Stop talking about it and be about it. Take some sort of step or giant leap toward the dream that you just keep talking about when the conversation turns all philosophical at happy hour. Now you’ve gotten hungry for it, and you realize that this is the time to cement the foundation. This is the time to put in the work.
You’d like to stop being such a nimrod when it comes to your money. You recognize that money is simply a tool, a means to an end. Money is not the weekend treasure you have squandered for years. Money is a huge part of how that dream you talk about when the conversation turns all philosophical at happy hour becomes a reality.
You wish someone would have told you that your mid-twenties are still your twenties. The drawbridge is still shaky and the wine is still cheap. The tunnel is still dim and the progress is still concealed. The music is still blaring and the men are still buffoons.
But, now you know. You know that adulthood sucks on some level and blesses you on another. You know the double edged sword of independence. You know that Sallie Mae is really not playing with you. You know who you once were and, if even on a small scale, you know who you would like to become. You know when you’ve tested your limits or when you have royally fucked something up. You know when you owe someone an apology, even if it still takes you some time to utter it. You know you need to stop taking shots. Period. End of story. You know when you want to say yes and when you want to say no. You know that keeping $30 dollars in your pocket usually beats agreeing to go out. You know that he doesn’t love you. You know that you’ll always love him. You know that it’s just the natural order of things.
You know yourself and the world around you an iota better than you did five years ago. And that counts for something. My God, in the grand scheme of this rocky and roller coaster existence, that counts for a hell of a lot.