There comes a point in a young adult’s life where the tall walls of familiarity that once sheltered and shaped you start their cyclical transitions. What you once considered a testament to your being, your own trusted corner of the universe, slowly begins to change.
First, the heinous lime green coat of paint from your high school years becomes all the more translucent, slowly exposing the outdated Disney princess wallpaper from your childhood beneath it. Next, to your horror, the faces of Minnie Mouse and Cinderella ceremoniously peel at the edges and tear from your walls, eventually leaving a blank, white canvas—staring you bleakly in the face. Ah, a fresh slate—a blessing, or a source of panic-induced chocolate consumption and tearful reruns of home videos?
Soon enough, you realize; your collection of Shel Silverstein poetry books and Backstreet Boys CDs are no longer touchstones for who you are. You don’t seek solace through the plights of princess Ariel in The Little Mermaid, and your Saturdays don’t revolve around printing off “hot” pictures of Jesse McCartney and artfully tacking them to your wall. What once decorated your room like valiant assertions of individuality now just remind you of a different place, a different time—almost an entirely different person. You’re starting anew, and you find yourself seeking new places, experiences and memories to shape your seemingly amorphous life.
But standing alone in the rubble of what your life used to be—remnants of old diaries filled with teenage angst and tie dyed band t-shirts dancing with dust at your feet—can be terrifying. Where do you look for assurance, for a sense of identity and certainty in life? You’ll always have where you come from in your heart, but what about where you’re going?
Just as in childhood, we’re still struggling to make sense of the world and put together the pieces of who we are—only this time around, we hold the power to decide who and what we want to surround ourselves with. You’re the one dealing the cards. You can live in a cabin in the woods or move to New York City, follow your favorite band across the country or hibernate in your apartment with Netflix and your cats. To some this is freeing, to others it’s terrifying. Never have the possibilities been so endless and the uncertainties so abundant. But if you do anything at all, learn how to look at indecision and doubt as merely symptomatic of your 20s rather than a terminal illness. Accept failure as a wise, welcome and necessary friend. Drink in the delicious ambiguity with fervor.
So go. Get wine drunk on rooftops that you feel like you can fly right off of. Make mortifying mistakes in fashion judgment that you’ll look back on and cringe. Move somewhere you don’t know a soul. And although you may feel completely lost and alone, know that your walls will once again become home to art, inspiration boards and knick knacks you found at the thrift store. It will regain the character and charm that’s so quintessentially “you”. You’ll have new touchstones, new experiences and a new story to tell. Dive in.