My Virtual Girlfriend passed me an article in some Canadian weekly about the quarter-life crisis, a term you may not have heard before but a feeling you probably get every time you talk to your mom.
You: Great news! I found thirty dollars in a toilet at a bar!
Mom: You’re on birth control, right? God forbid there’s more than one of you in this family.
You: What? It was only pee. I washed it off.
The author basically summed up the last ten months of this blog in a couple of pages. I used to think the “theme” of this blog was I’m gay! And I drink. But this piece light-bulbed that it’s less about climbing cranes and sleeping with your girlfriend and more about how I wish I could take back almost every decision I’ve ever made, like, for instance, putting my Jerry Springer cameo on my resume.
You know how when you were a kid your teachers were like, “Katie H. You are too smart to be sitting under your desk. And take that paper bag off your head. You could be anything you want to be.” When you heard this, you thought, Hmm. She thinks I’m smart even though I just said that the capitol of New York is New Jersey. That’ll get me far in the world. Work? Shmurck. I’ll just coast by convincing people that my gray matter is above medium. Maybe at some point a teacher/parent/parole officer told you that you needed to actually work for success, but by that point, you’d already decided that work is for dummies and poor people.
And remember that test you took in third grade that sent you to the smart person classroom? The one that designated you “gifted”? How wrong is telling a bunch of premies that they are gifted, like your neurons were wrapped in Rudolph paper and dropped down the chimney? This is where is all started. You didn’t have to work very hard in school, so you didn’t. Who wouldn’t prefer to get stoned with other privileged slackers and fall asleep on the model mattresses at Bed, Bath, and Beyond rather than go to AP History or develop work ethic and/or life skills?
Everything in life can be attributed to some mistake your parents made (i.e. You have a drinking problem because your parents wouldn’t let you sip wine at dinner.), so you blame them for not making you prepare for adulthood, which is unfortunate because you actually are an adult, albeit one who uses up all the text messages on the family plan. Yes, it’s definitely their fault. You are in the midst of a quarter life crisis because your parents told you that you are smart. But it turns out you’re not. You belong in a trailer park, pit bulls chained to a stake in the ground, clocking third shift and spanking the kids. Your parents should have beat you instead.
But you’re not in a trailer park. You’re drinking an Americano at a coffee shop, standing at a counter instead of sitting down because you think that counts as exercise. You’re listening to NPR pod-casts on the MacBook your grandparents bought you for graduating from college. You were born lucky, and yet, you are twenty-six years old and experiencing that kind of crisis who should really wait until your forties to have. It’s not the sports car or the mistress or the new career that you want. You don’t actually know what you want, just that you want something.
You do not know what to do with your life. It’s the paradox of choice: there are too many options and too many things to dismiss. You could have been an archeologist but you don’t look good in khaki. You could have been a dentist but latex gloves make your palms sweat. You could have been a child star but the Mickey Mouse Club isn’t interested in little girls in Umbros and a bowl cut who only liked the Hansen Brothers when she thought they were girls.
Facebook makes it worse. You look at the profiles of friends and acquaintances from your past, back when you had potential, and you judge. Marriage? Babies? Jobs? What happened to you? When did you become your mother? When did you become my mother? They are still paying off the wedding that was mostly attended by their parents’ friends, sure to be divorced and alone and broke in ten years, just like the rest of us. At least, you tell yourself that.
But would it be nice to sleep beside someone you actually love, someone who isn’t grateful for the unspoken agreement that you pretend to be asleep when she leaves, someone you sleep with because you actually want to, not because of some idea that picking people up, getting what you want, makes you somehow desirable, worthy of attention, possible to love?
Or maybe you aren’t like this. Maybe you cook dinner with your partner instead of binging on Velvetta and making elaborate plans to shoplift your way to a new life. Maybe you wake up in the morning and get out of bed because you want to, not because you thought of a clever Facebook status. You might be twenty-six years old and exactly where you should be, on the path luck set you on, content with the choices you’ve made, with the job you have, with the person beside you. Or maybe you are like me, twenty-six years old and still looking for the person or the job or the thing that will save you.