Is it strange that I miss some of the angst of quarter-life?
You turn twenty five, twenty-six years old, or you graduate, and you get into that crisis/opportunity state, and everything carries so much more drama than it did. Two and a half decades of TV watching kicks in when you plug in your headphones and start soundtracking the moments of your life like a sweeps episode on prime time. You look at faraway places on travel calendars and brochures with an almost innocent hope that someday you’ll get there (or, you actually decide to fucking go, a decision I didn’t make and now regret forever).
You first romanticize and then revile the office job that you get out of school, maybe drifting from place to place looking for home, looking for experiences. You dabble in the arts, maybe fancy yourself a writer or an actor, a singer or some kind of entrepreneur. Maybe you make it as these things, maybe you don’t. Most don’t.
Maybe you don’t have a fucking clue what it is you want to do, or be about.
You revel in the illusion that the one that you’re with is the one you’ll always be with.
You think you can go drinking until 2am on a Tuesday and can show up at the office at 9am without so much as a stuffy nose.
You think the world owes you a little bit, but that’s all right, because you’ve got your own verse to add to the world’s powerful play, and the world’s gonna kiss your feet when you’re done writing it.
Enter thirtysomething. And all that’s gone.
Where is that desperation? That ballsy sense of entitlement? All of that angst of quarter life, gone the way of passive surrender to the loss of opportunities.
The shameless fatigue from high aspirations now overgrown by the weed-like need for comfortable conformity.
Thirtysomething. Never happier to be stuck behind a desk because it pays. Never in more chains than now.
I lament the debts I’ve accrued, not because I owe, but because of what I bought. I wish they’d bought me more quarter-life adventures than what they did. The price of mental marriage at 19 is a decade spent in youthful retirement. At least I can live some excitement in this second wave (as soon as I settle up the old tabs).
I still soundtrack, though…
These so-called “awesome” years may have their days, and this is one of them, but I’m lucky to have the certainty of who I choose now to be regardless of whether or not I’ve been that person before; evidence from life’s experiential laboratory to back some of my quarter life theories (and eliminate others); and the discipline to finally stop and clean up my old messes.
I may not have travelled far and wide in my twenties, but sometimes I feel that I’ve lived an entire decade in the first 2.5 years of my thirties right here at home, with still lots of time to wander about later if I just pick up my hustle and stay the course for however much of it is left.
No longer about winning the race…and all about running it well. Maybe that’s the biggest difference between twentysomething and now.