"I just feel like I'm so behind!"
"Behind?" I ask.
"Well, like, so many of my friends are getting married and having kids and finding fabulous apartments or they're dating and travelling, and I just feel like I'm...not."
"So, what? Just because they're doing it doesn't mean you need to be. Besides how are you behind? You're only 25. Your life hasn't even started yet. Besides, them hoes will be divorced and homeless by the time you get your credit together and buy your first house."
"La that's not the point. I just need to get my life together."
And there it is. The phrase continuously uttered by mid-to-late twentysomethings everywhere, at least twice a day.
I need to get my life together.
Sometimes, it is a valid assertion. That credit card that seemed like a good idea in college is now $5,000 in debt from dinners and trips you can't return to pay it off. You got a car after graduation but you got bent over without your choice of lubricant on the payments and interest. Your entry level job is in no way equipped to pay for your 50K in loans (which is literally almost everyone I know). Life is just generally not what you expect it to be. And you know you need to get that shit right unless you wanna be the 35 year old “entrepreneur’ of a some vague variety, living at home and going on a VH-1 reality show just to get outta the house.
But other times, "I need to get my life together" is merely just an instinctual response to general small things that should in no way throw off your entire day or week.
La goes to war with her alarm clock for 30 minutes, realizing she is gonna have to haul ass (and skip makeup) to make it to work on time.
"I need to get my life together."
No ma'am, you just need to get your lazy ass up in the morning.
Girl can't let go of the same dumb ass she’s been fucking with for two years that cheats on her more than reality stars get tested for STDs.
"I need to get my life together."
Wait, no. That definitely deserves getting one’s life together. But unfortunately, the young do not have a monopoly on stupid, so that has little to do with anything.
What I am finding most often in these convos between me and my quarter life crisis friends, is that more often than not, our self-worth is not only weighed heavily by where we are vs. where we think we should be, but also but where we are vs. where OTHER people we know are.
Sure, logically you know that there's no way that your Communications degree is gonna yield you the same type of starting salary that your friend the business whiz kid whose first job out of college was at Microsoft has, but for some reason you still think that you too should be buying a house on your sad little $30K a year.
And you also recognize wholeheartedly that your friend that's having the big, beautiful 300 person wedding because she is marrying a football player is probably gonna end up a lonely, divorced mother of 3 with no life skills in less than 5 years, but you can't help but think that you too should be having a wedding in the Loew's Millenium Ballrooom.
So then it makes me wonder, why do we do this to ourselves? We know better. We know that we really only have 1-3 years of real world living under our belts, and the rookie years all always the hardest. We know in our hearts we aren't (mostly) ready (financially, emotionally, spiritually) to be anybody's wife or husband, let alone some poor kid's half ass together parent. We should be able to solidly recognize by now that the perfect job (in our field, doing something we love, earning enough to keep Sallie Mae from eating our young) is not going to just fall into our laps. We should also know by now, that "accomplishing" any of these things isn't going to wave a magic wand over our lives and make our lives seem "together." It just doesn't work that way. Nothing in life really does. (Which pretty much blows.) But think about it really...
It's always the rehearsal that kicks your ass. The show is what you get to enjoy.
I have spent much of the last few weeks trying to change my thinking; to be more positive, to be still and pray sometimes instead of thinking. To focus on the things that really need changing and not the things that are just getting on my nerves for the time being. Trying to accompany each negative thought with a positive one (or two). I realize there’s a lot I have missed out on while waiting to "get my life together”.
We seem to have lost our own sense that we can map the course our lives take. Somewhere along the way, we bought into the idea that we would be alone forever if we weren't married by 25, or that we'd never have kids if we didn't have them by 28. I thought we had learned by now that there is no such thing as that perfect job/man/apartment/car that ties it all together? We are in a subconscious competition with our peers that seem to be "doing it all" rather than setting the pace ourselves. And doesn't it seem like the deadlines are getting tighter? I remember a few scant years ago when getting married by 28 or so was the goal, kids by 30. Now the brides can barely legally do shots at their own bachelorette party and they’re hitting Babies R Us in a dead sprint soon thereafter.
It’s easy to trace it back to the societal influences and the dangerous (and usually false) icons of having it all. But when did we lose faith in the process?
Granted, I bitch all the time about how much my 20's have, thus far, sucked like a groupie during All Star game. But I think I recognize now, as I didn't the first four years of my 20's, that there is something larger at play here. Sure, it doesn't always make it better or less irritating or even make me consume less liquor to temporarily relieve the pressure. But I recognize that there will come a time for me too when all those things I thought I couldn't get a handle on in my younger years will seem like basic addition. I have faith that I am not going through anything unique or extraordinary that millions of thirtysomethings can now laugh about. (But seriously though; what's that like?) But even more than that, I respect the fact that despite these quarter life crisis issues not being unique, that my life is.
And it is not required to fit anyone else's timeline but my own.