Guest Post: I Am Twenty Nine.
Two weeks ago, a co-worker/friend IMed me through our company IM service and asked what I was doing. I (truthfully) answered that I was , “waiting.”
“For what?” she replied.
“Everything. My next call. Lunch. The weekend. My next career move. My future. EVERYTHING.”
I thought I went through my quarter life crisis a couple of years ago, but it turns out that little bugger lasts a few years. Or maybe we just always feel confused and uneasy about the future. Lately, my friends seem fixated on this issue. Everyone seems to be fighting a pretty hard battle. I mean that relatively. Like, yes, we know it’s a First World Problem and there are Worse Things Out There.
But that’s not really stopping us, now is it?
Today, I’m pleased to present my first guest post from my friend LMac, who likes the idea of a blog in theory but doesn’t want to deal with maintaining one. She felt inspired this week and wrote the essay you will find under the cut. It’s a little more maudlin that the kind of post I usually write, but it feels appropriate given today is Good Friday. I always feel this day deserves serious reflection. I’ll spare you my religious ponderings, but it feels right to post something serious today.
Withour further ado… I present Lmac’s Essay: I am Twenty Nine.
I freestyle slowly through the water, peering into the bottom of the YMCA pool through goggles that pinch my head and pull my wet hair. Thoughts whirl swiftly in my head as I end my lap and stare out the large glass windows of the indoor pool. I watch the etchings that the gray branches make against an even grayer sky. Its cold out there, though the pool feels like bath water and after my thirty minutes of exercise, I treat myself to the heated whirlpool. I try not to cringe at the grit my feet encounter on the tub bottom. As I dry off in the locker room and pull my tshirt and pants back on, my inner cacophony grows louder. It’s merely words and images – there are no whole sentences because there’s nothing to clearly define. School when ugh tired job stupid baby job ugh why baby when school funding ugh boss ugh baby ugh tired fat want chocolate baby school fat job not good enough too good too much to do not enough yet.
These days, I spend a lot of time trying to make the inner noise go away. I swim- not very well I might add. I walk and look at the trees. I listen to that new mopey Adam Lambert song. I beg my husband to rub my back. I watch stupid TV, and fold clean t-shirts in perfect squares, and try hard to like my reasonably prestigious consulting job because its my own fault that I took it. Damn me, for being semi-competent and interviewing well.
Life ain’t so tough all the time. I have big dreams for myself, which I’m trying to make happen. I love my husband more now than I did five years ago when we married, which is saying something these days I expect. I have book club and supper club and a neighborhood that looks like the set of Desperate Housewives. I have a dog that likes to roll around on his back in the grass on sunny days. My mom cooks me meals for my freezer and I heat them up for us and its like instant gourmet. My house looks like the opposite of an episode of Hoarders and I would double-dog dare organizational consultant Julie Morgenstern to find fault with my filing system. I work for a company that wins a lot of awards for management consulting and I make decent money. I have a plan to escape that company so that I can pursue a life of research and writing – academic and otherwise – and teaching and generally living on my own schedule. I even have a vague plan to fit a baby in there and am occasionally pleased with myself for coming up with all these great ideas. I even have back-up plans for all these plans and most days I have confidence that it will all work out even if Plans A and B don’t work out and I have to move onto Plan C or create Plan D on the fly.
Sometimes I don’t though, and that’s when I stare at the trees and sigh more than usual. School when ugh tired job stupid baby job ugh why baby when school funding ugh boss ugh baby ugh tired fat want chocolate baby school fat job not good enough too good too much to do not enough yet. I eat a chocolate bar and ten minutes later vow that I’m going to eat salad for lunch tomorrow to make up for it. I stay up late and fall asleep with my blackberry under my earlobe. I worry that I’m not getting enough Vitamin D. I eat lunch out for the third time in the week and mentally chide myself for spending money when I could be putting it in my mutual fund.
I wonder constantly if this is how it is for all of us in our twenties. Trying to make plans and then make a plan for the plan that might not work and making a plan behind that. This nagging feeling of being yet unformed. Our faces are still round and plump with collagen, and our pictures on Facebook are yet indistinguishable from the college kids ten years behind us, except we’re not quite as drunk as they are in the photo. We’ve worked two, maybe three jobs. We’ve started and finished Master’s programs and law school. We’ve gotten married. We’ve broken up or even divorced. A few of us have had our first kid or are trying to. Life experiences a-plenty. But not enough yet. What’s next? When it happens, will it be okay?
So we stare at the trees and wonder. School when ugh tired job stupid baby job ugh why baby when school funding ugh boss ugh baby ugh tired fat want chocolate baby school fat job not good enough too good too much to do not enough yet.
The twenties. It’s like we can’t wait to make it happen – and then we get there and we wish we hadn’t tried so hard. We make a choice, and then wonder if that choice was right. We lay the foundation for later years but wonder what’s going to happen if we walk this road and not that one. Suddenly, we realize that our life is past the quarter-length point and its settling into a pattern one way or another. Is this the pattern we want? We look at the wise thirty-somethings with their smug assurances that things work out and wonder how they can, possibly. The act of dreaming and planning is so tough, we can hardly see beyond to to their sedate world. We’re not sure we want to – it might mean we’re old.
And so we spend a few years in limbo – listening to mopey songs by the American Idols and totally, like, getting it. The only way I know I’m not still fifteen is that I’m not listening to John Lennon’s Let it Be on my cassette deck. Instead, its coming out of my Ipod.
I walk out of the front doors of the YMCA and get in my car – which I bought with my own money. Another possible sign of maturity. I drive home, humming tunelessly. School when ugh tired job stupid baby job ugh why baby when school funding ugh boss ugh baby ugh tired fat want chocolate baby school fat job not good enough too good too much to do not enough yet. I get home, eat a sandwich, and flop on the couch while I look at bills and enter numbers into an Excel spreadsheet. My wet hair makes a dark spot on the back of the couch.
I stick my legs out straight in front of me and turn my head toward the window. The trees scratch and grasp at the still gray sky.
I am twenty-nine.
Thanks for sharing with us, Lmac! Don’t you feel like you heard a bunch of Grey’s Anatomy voiceovers at once? Leave her some love in the comments- she was nervous about putting this out there.