People in their 30s tend to see me as a child. The last time I spoke to one at a bar, she told me not to worry about life: enjoy it, while you’re still young. And don’t take the relationship thing so seriously. So, why is there a PANIC button I keep reaching towards at the first sign of failure, whether real or perceived? Why do I feel as though everything right now is SO serious?
Probably because I’m just stepping into the adult world. Okay I’ve been there a couple of years. But, compared to life’s more seasoned veterans, I’m just getting used to the whole personal responsibility thing. And every small task seems astronomical.
I look at college kids (undergrad) and think “Damn, how did those years fly by me.” And not necessarily in a fond way. I think about that quiet boy who spent hours locked in his room watching movies, rambling off creative ideas, and writing incessantly. I think about all the parties and all the additional friends I could have made. Or, most obsessively: all the girls I could have had better luck with. And didn’t.
I keep wishing for Doc Brown’s DeLorean, wishing I could go back and fix things. I fall into the bad habit of looking backwards and seeing a negative past that, at times, paints my outlook on the future. I look around me at everyone who seems to have their shit together, with jobs, romance, and friendships. They seem to have found their way, or calling in life. And what the hell is mine, besides writing incessantly?
In short, I’m having a mid-life crisis at 23. A lot of millennials are, I’m sure. People say you should take it easy when you’re young and enjoy EVERYTHING. Unfortunately the digital age, for all its positives, has brought out some of the worst in us. Our generation evolved into it, exposing ourselves to a brand new, handy-dandy facet for constant social comparison. And it’s slowly eroding our mental health. Like acid burning through flesh.
Having to deal with that constant comparison doesn’t really help when you’re already measuring the past by opportunities lost, rather than gained. But it isn’t always self-doubt that gets me. Sometimes it’s simply realization. That kids born in 1998 (five years after me) are currently attending college for the first time. They weren’t even alive when Toy Story came out. Or Forrest Gump. They were practically pre-schoolers when 9/11 happened, while I was in third grade.
These are the kinds of realizations that cause me to look in the mirror and check to make sure that a gray hair hasn’t magically sprung up on my very-much-still-youthful 23-year-old head. So may things can happen in the scale of a year nowadays. We just watched a lunatic go to the White House. I started grad school this year, after spending another previous year at home working a job I didn’t like all that much. And now there are kids born in ’97, ’98 shotgunning beers at parties.
I feel older days racing towards me. Sometimes this gives me the urge to indulge in my still-remaining younger ones. Even when other 20-somethings start brooding about settling down. That shit scares me. Becoming idle in the early years of adulthood causes me to spring backwards in time. But then when I see kids at parties or bars who are much younger than me, I go into “old man” mode. Fakes? What in the holy hell are those? Oh, yeah, it’s a form of ID.
I feel like I’m on a tightrope, mostly swaying towards the “older” direction, but still wanting to cling to something past, whether real or imagined. Wanting to “relive” great times that were never really all that great. And waking up feeling like “shit, I’m one day closer.” Closer to what? Quarter-century? Don’t tell me that. I’ve still got two more years left. Every vestige of time is precious. No matter how infinitesimal.
But I still want that damn DeLorean. Just for a few months.