The other day I was sitting on the metro, commuting to my unpaid internship and feeling entirely more defeated than a normal human should at 8:10 am. In an effort to avoid the fact that the head of the man I was sitting next to was inching closer and closer, threatening to make my shoulder his pillow, I scrolled through my phone reading odd and end pieces on the internet. During my quest to avoid the awkwardness that comes with taking public transportation, I came across a quote that was exactly what I needed in that moment; words that took my face and slapped me out of the lull I had been battling the last couple of weeks:
“One of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty- three is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened to anyone before.” – Joan Didion
I had been struggling with feeling out of place, lost, and unsure as to whether what I’ve been doing since graduation is right.
Actually, I’ve been wondering what the hell I am doing for quite some time now.
I’m almost 22, interning (fo free) on Capitol Hill, and working two jobs just to make up for it. There have been many times I’ve laid down at night and said to myself, “Mother of God Lauren, get yourself together.” As a prideful person that has always worked hard and has always known exactly what she’s wanted, admitting that this transition to adult life has not been as direct and – “LOOK I’M MAKING IT” – as we all hope for after college has been hard.
Now, I’m not writing this to throw a pity party – unless that means someone is bringing free guac to said party…. cause I will definitely make my broke self the object of pity for free guac (Just kidding y’all, stay with me). I am extremely grateful for all of the opportunities I have/had. However, I’m writing this because there I sat, in a smelly metro train, at the ripe age of 21 already looking at my first rut of adulthood.
I felt defeated because I was naïvely omitting a small fact from the equation – that all good things come in time. Yes, I may be passionate about what I do but that takes some proving to the real world, and not as “Lauren the College Student” but “Lauren the –Ready-to do-Whatever-it-Takes College Graduate.”
Did I honestly think every person I admire and every person content with where they are today didn’t wake up and wonder “what the hell am I doing?,” at the ages of 21, 22, or even 23. Someone get me in touch with Beyoncè’s people and I will fact check that for you.
However, I guess, as the quote says, at this age we think nothing like this has ever happened to anyone before. We go into autopilot and assume we are failing just because we don’t elegantly stride off of the graduation stage (let’s be serious we didn’t look elegant being swallowed by purple robes) and become the next Bill Gates or Christiane Amanpour. If you did? Good for you, that’s awesome! You can be the one that buys the guac for the party.
The beauty of being this young is that we are naïve. We aren’t supposed to believe that someone cares more than us, loves harder than us, has ever felt the way we do. It’s how each new generation of young adults innovates and exceeds those before us – thinking with a fresh mind.
But to be clear, and what I suppose is the bottom line of my “aha moment,” we are supposed to trip and fall, to be rejected once or twice. We are supposed to be making sacrifices, questioning our lives while a strange man’s head rests on your shoulders,and we are certainly NOT supposed to be comfortable and content with life right now.
If I had walked off that stage and landed in my dream position – what would the next 60 years of my life look like? Um, let me answer for you, BORING and inadequate.
We are supposed to feel like we are struggling and naively think that no one understands, because in the end, when all is said and done and we finally prove we are meant to be there, we’ll know we earned it – even if that end goal changed along the way.
My challenge to you is: Yes, just accept the naiveness of being in your 20s or, actually, whatever age you may be questioning where you are right now, because in the end we all have more to learn. Just remember from time-to-time that every day you are thinking about where you want to be is already one step closer to being the person that gets there.