1. Getting Married/ Spawning. This one has to be first on the list, if only because it is the most arresting when you see it happening. People with whom you were, only a few short months ago, doing body shots at a bar called “Skeezers” are now bringing new life into the world and preparing for it, like a real live person. They’re going to Bed Bath and Beyond with not a trace of irony, and they’re getting 401ks and other things that I’m sure are important but whose function I have yet to comprehend. Every week or so now, someone pops up on my news feed with the big announcement: They’re getting married! Every status update/ conversation for the next 8 months will now be about seating arrangements. They’re having a baby! Let me guess, your profile pictures will now be, in this order: An ultrasound of a blurry dot, a picture of your bare stomach (excuse me, “baby bump”) with some cutesy decoration, and then a series of pictures of a 2-day-old baby. Essentially these people just fell off the planet, mourn their loss appropriately.
2. Drinking As Much As In College. There is this distinctive phase in the early twenties, especially when people are having a hard time finding full-time employment and are considering extending their studies just ’cause, where people who really liked drinking all the time between class continue to really like to drink all the time. Wanting to get wasted at all times, constantly asking people to go out to happy hour, and generally not being able to interact socially without an Absolutely Fabulous-style buzz on gets extremely uncomfortable at a certain point. Yet, how is the allure not there in some ways? We’re the “lost generation” or whatever boring news magazines call us, the 20-somethings now have no idea what to do with themselves except go to Brunch on Sundays (our version of the North Star, keeping everything in perspective). It’s no surprise that the collegiate lifestyle of drinking and studying (lololol) would remain appealing to us long after our forefathers would have had a job by now.
3. Being Egregiously Successful. You know what I love? Seeing my acquaintances get internships at prestigious consulting firms, buy property at 22, or just generally achieving their dreams at a nauseatingly young age. It just would be that much better if such success didn’t automatically mean I no longer have things to talk to about with these people. It’s an undeniable human instinct to try and keep up with whatever conversation is happening around you, and if you’re at a party with the guy who starts every sentence with “Well, right after I finished up at Harvard…” or “The Senator I work for said the funniest thing the other day…” you’re going to want to justify your existence. Even if you walk away thinking how insufferable that guy was, in the moment, you’ll blurt out something awkward along the lines of, “That is so cool, I’m actually 99 percent sure I saw Jamie Kennedy at the grocery store last week, so, you know… big things poppin over here, too.”
4. Regretting College. Not the college experience, of course, but everything that came along afterward — all those jobs they can’t find, all that parents’ house they have to live in, all those loans they have to pay off, all that general misfortune that has befallen this generation. Of course, my friends who majored in engineering, computer science, or became military officers are all just running around in circles and laughing as they count their money from their relatively lucrative jobs (or, at least that’s what I imagine they do in their spare time). But for a lot of the rest, it’s a lot of working at Starbucks and circling fruitless want ads. It’s this, of course, that makes those few-and-far-between incredibly successful people all the more unbearable when you come across them. But not everyone went to college — credit where credit is due, two of my friends that are doing the best (and are perpetually employable) both went to technical schools and then did apprenticeships. If only we could all have had such foresight.
5. ??? Perhaps it’s just me, but I have a lot of people who are just… existing… and occasionally posting Facebook statuses (I assume so no one alerts the authorities about a missing person). But they’re not in school, they don’t seem to have a job, they don’t seem to want to do a whole lot. Sometimes they go “backpacking” or “couch surfing” and then are just gone for several months at a time, somehow making their way across Eastern Europe without getting pick-pocketed even once. They occasionally post statuses about wanting to go to the west coast, wanting to buy a van for not a lot of money, or trying to get over to Asia for a while. (I think those people imagine we’re still living in the early 1900s and they can just win a ticket in a game of poker 10 minutes before the boat leaves the dock.) Any time I hear from them, they are on a different continent and continuing to live by means unknown to anyone around them — in countries requiring tourist visas without ever having set foot in a consulate. They are just magical creatures, operating on that age-old plan of: 1. Acquire one-way plane ticket 2. ??? 3. Profit. Hopefully, they’ll all get their own reality show on the Discovery Channel.