There may be something inherently heartbreaking about being 22. In fact, I don’t know anyone in their early twenties who’s truly happy.
The last time I was this lost and out of place, I was thirteen or fourteen, just teetering on the edge of teenager-hood, confused to death about how to be any semblance of a put-together girl. At at the same time I was secretly repulsed by all the effort and fakeness they embodied. Now I feel the same way, but about adulthood. I am really sick of feeling like a freak every time I walk into a department store with my backpack and my grubby sneakers. I am sick of not knowing the etiquette for emails and phone calls to other businesses or nonprofits. But I do not at all want to be those people or know those thing. I wish there was a middle ground, where people who just wanted to be themselves could go and graze like forgotten cows.
Maria today theorized that we young people are in such crisis because we’ve got too many choices. We can go to Africa and build houses. We can become investment bankers and drink $4 lattes. We can live in the desert and sell cacti to tourists. We can literally pick and choose our own destiny. But the terrible thing is that we also have no choices, we are stuck because of our own incapacitation, our inability to think clearly or plan ahead or be anything like rational adults who know how to _make_ choices in the first place. And so we do what is in front of us like the scared little adultlettes we are, and then we realize our stuckness and are scared to the core.
I miss my friends. I miss curling up like little kittens on our apartment sofa. I miss sharing headphones with Amanda on the train and listening to Simon and Garfunkel. I miss drinking wine and lighting candles and listening to Ryan Adams with Eliina until the candles burned out and we closed our heavy-lidded eyes. I miss walking to Patrick’s house, showing up at his door on my way home from a guitar lesson and just hanging out. I miss everything, everyone, with such a deep empty ache that it crops up at unexpected times like a cold shadow, turning me for a moment into a spiteful irrational creature. Like today I saw a woman wearing a leg brace crossing the street. She was dressed all trendy with chunky silver bracelets and tight black pants, but her leg was in a brace. The first thought that came to my mind was that it probably evened out in the end. She couldn’t use her leg right, but I bet her best friends lived in town.
And the kicker, of course, is that life isn’t all that bad right now. But you know what that means? It just adds another layer of guilt onto the pile, that we have it okay and we don’t appreciate it when there’s all those people out there who don’t even _have_ all the things we have.
And us nonprofity types are actively working to give people choices and the freedom to leave their neighborhood and become a part of the business world and all that. …..A tiny netherworld voice in my head whispers, “But if they were…. wouldn’t they be just as miserable as we are?”