They say there’s a quarter-life crisis that happens around that 25-year marker. Panic ensues. Life choices seem terrible. Regret is a tidal wave that crashes into you and over you and everyone is telling you just to breathe….but if I breathe then I will drown.
No one gets it. No one, it seems. But they do. I think almost everyone has been in that place at one time or another. Hell, I think some people build the foundation of their house on that unstable ground, and no wonder they don’t recognize what you’re going through. It’s all they’ve ever known.
Some people go their entire lives like this. They do, don’t they? That’s the biggest fear. That once you’re here, you’ll never get out. You’re stuck. Floundering and Uncertainty have you now.
It happens in a blink, it seems. One day something happens to you, smacks you in the face like a slap, and that sting just seems to resonate for weeks. Suddenly, it’s there all the time. This tingling, painful numbness that lasts the day. It gets tucked in with you at night, and when you open your eyes, it’s there, sitting on your chest and daring you to remove it. But how?
Coffee? Lots and lots of coffee? I thought that maybe, my most favorite of friends would jolt my heart with caffeinated joy and snap me out of this funk. Instead, it just leaves me jittery and shaky and people are starting to wonder if the Molly-drug correlation is more than just a coincidence.
I keep reading quotes that kick me in the pants, but the idea that’s had the greatest hold over me as of late is that there is no set path in which we have to do things. At first I didn’t even entertain the thought, taking it on as some over-hyped You Can Do Anything! speech that we pitch to five-year-olds who want to grow up to become the next Michael Jordan when they’re genetics will land them at five-foot-six and their athleticism won’t surpass the brutality of all that is Dodge Ball. Yeahhh, you can totally do anythingggg.
But, really, I guess, I still believe you can. It’s hard, though. It’s harder than we ever teach children to expect, and that’s a lot of why so many people never achieve their everything. It’s because we teach the idea, but not the work ethic. What’s more, we don’t hold onto the enthusiasm. A lot of our failures are, yes, due to our own laziness, but…it’s more than that.
Do you know how many people have rolled their eyes at me when I tell them I will become a successful novelist? So many people think that dreams are just that: dreams. Fantasies. Par with meeting Oprah or being on Conan or finding the Dodo bird (because they’re all equally fantastical). There’s no support. No encouragement. And if you didn’t go to college right out of High School then
you’ve missed your chance.
That seems insane. The entire system seems insane. I applaud those who do go to school right after graduation, don’t get me wrong. I enthusiastically congratulate those who actually finish and go on to become successful in what they went to school for. That is something to be celebrated, really, but how many people actually, at the baby age of eighteen, know for sure what they want to be for the rest of their life? And yet, if you don’t, you’ve missed your chance.
That’s how it feels. It’s wrong, but that’s how it feels because that’s what we teach. That’s what I was taught. If you don’t go to school now then you will never go.
Here’s to all of you who defied the stigma. I love you for that. I love you for waiting. I love you for not wanting to graduate with $60k in debt at twenty-two years old with a degree in General Education. I love you for actually caring about school and giving your all because it means that much more to you now than it ever would have before.
A friend of mine just recently posted their education progress. At first I experienced this pang of envy because I won’t be able to start until next fall, but then I realized how absolutely awesome it was. This person is in the place I hope to be in just a few years, and that’s admirable. It deserves some serious respect. From one parent to another: Bravo.
There is no set path. There is no order. There isn’t some list of chores you have to complete in a specific order or you won’t get the prize at the end. There is no Prize. Life is the prize. It’s difficult and taxing and IMPOSSIBLE at times, but it’s also this totally amazing experience of joys and losses and friendships and lessons and things that we can’t regret, no matter how terrible they seem, because they are a part of us, and without all of that, we wouldn’t be who we are today. You wouldn’t be you. I wouldn’t be me. And that just sounds so lonely.