By: Hilary Neesam
I wish someone had warned me about turning 27.
For instance, I wish someone had said, hey girl, just so you know, because you’re like totally an adult now, things are going to be different. There are days, more often than not, that you will feel sad, bored, and incredibly lonely. There are days, more often than not, that you will wake up and wonder where in the world your unbounded imagination went (why don't you want to fight pirates anymore?). Every single day you will wonder if you’re doing life right, and you’re definitely going to wonder, every single day, what “doing life right” even means. All of this worrying and fear and self-doubt is going to almost kill you. And that’s no hyperbole. You are going to have to fight to survive.
But nobody warned me. Not really, at least. What a crock of shit.
For the longest time I tried answering the question what am I supposed to do with my life? What am I supposed to do?! Well, brush my teeth, eat my veggies, get some vitamin D. I know I’m supposed to do those things. But what am I supposed to do with my LIFE? Well, what do you get when you mix an elephant and a rhino.
Hell. If. I. Know.
I’m 27 and still as confused and anxious as I was at 15. I think my problem stems from expectations. When I was young and awkward and so utterly uncomfortable in my skin, I always expected, and took comfort in thinking, that as I grew older things would eventually get better. But now that I’m an adult (and therefore exceptionally full of wisdom, obviously), I’ve finally caught on that there will always be something to take the place of a pimply forehead or a bad basketball game.
A friend of mine made a good point about expectations at different stages of life. When you’re a child, you’re hurting for reason a, b, and c, but it’s okay because when you become a teenager everything will be better. Then you become a teenager, and is that ever awful! Because now you’ve got responsibilities, PUBERTY, a new a, b, and c to worry about. But damnit, you’re still alright because when you graduate and go to college... Oh boy! Will THAT ever be the bee's knees! (Okay, I admit, college WAS the bee’s knees, but it also was terrifying and telling and all kinds of depressing.) No fear, because when you become a REAL adult you’ll finally have your shit together... See where I’m going here? To be alive is to suffer, and no matter what stage of life, any living, breathing human being is a testament to this cold hard fact.
Something I’ve been doing a lot of lately to cure my quarter-life-crisis blues is travel. I’ve hightailed it out of Wisconsin more times than I can remember because I thought leaving would help me discover the missing pieces of the puzzle called life. But when I reflect on all the trips I’ve ever taken, I can’t help but think not everything is as it seems.
Washington, Montana, California, Florida, Utah, Colorado, Texas, North Carolina, New York, Michigan, Georgia— so many expectations I had for these places, yet they are all as busy, beautiful, and messy as the last. And whenever I arrive home, I am left only with the realization that my life is one big blur.
Disclaimer: Don’t get me wrong. I love traveling. It helps me breathe easier, it makes me more curious and appreciative. But I’m not going to pretend it’s a cure for all my struggles.
Someone once told me, "you alone are responsible for the quality of your life." I think that person was maybe an alcoholic, and I think she was drinking a cocktail when she told me that, but she speaks truth. Each individual is liable for their future. And it's part of growing up that we start to recognize this liability. I understand that we are not promised a damn thing, that emptiness and loneliness are probably the only things we are close to being guaranteed. I understand that bad things happen and good things happen and sometimes you’re sad and sometimes you’re happy. I’m also starting to understand that just about all we can do is endure.
All of this being said, I’m not a total depressive and dispiriting cynic. I’m not sure why I wrote it, really. Just venting I guess. Just trying to get this out of my head. I’ll blame it on a quarter-life crisis. I’m happy a lot of the time. I’m sad some of the time. Being an adult rocks my socks off. I love the freedom and knowledge I've obtained as I've entered into adulthood and who I've become because of it, but sometimes it just kind of sucks. When a child, it is impossible to know that little by little, day by day, you ultimately will forget what it was that made you want to fight a pirate in the first place. I think I just really miss fighting pirates.
I’ve chosen to live a life set by my own standards (difficult but doable), and I try to encourage others to do the same. I try my best to make the quality of my life Grade-A, like an oil change at Jiffy Lube (damn if that shit ain’t expensive). But I don’t think I’ll ever figure out what the correct way of adulting actually is. At least I can find comfort in knowing absolutely no one has it figured out.