1. You can already feel that you don’t like your friends.
Okay, maybe “don’t like them” is kind of a harsh way to phrase that, but you can feel that you don’t relate. There always seems to be some kind of tedious drama in the form of people sleeping with one another long after they should have realized that spicing up their friendship with a few genitals was just about the worst thing they could do for their overall mental health. There is picking sides. There is always some underlying resentment, some past hard feelings that have carried over, and a general atmosphere which reminds you that there is a level of closeness you just can’t achieve with them the way you’d want to. You never feel like they’re that surrogate family who is truly happy for you, they’re just those people who are around because they are convenient and familiar.
Somewhere along the line, your group of “friends” became “the group of people I drink enough with on a regular basis that we have become a default social group, even though we share very little in terms of emotions.” And it sucks.
2. You’ve been planning on moving for so long that no one even asks about it anymore.
There was a time that you were sure you had picked the perfect new city that was going to change your life and introduce you to all of the people and things that were once so clearly missing. New York, or Chicago, or Austin — that was going to be the city that really got you. But then things just started getting in the way, and dates got blurrier, and plans got more stretched out, and all of a sudden no one was even checking in on “when is the big move happening” anymore, because they all know the answer — it’s not. You just aren’t going to go, and not even for any good reason. Your city has simply acted like that quicksand of ease and repetition that it is, and you are setting up shop in a place you don’t want to be just because, well, you are.
3. You can already sense that your fashion tastes are embarrassing.
There are only so many trend trains you can hop on — from the uber-thick Cara Delevingne eyebrow to the Rihanna shaved quarter-head — before you end up looking like someone’s kindergarten papier-mâché rendering of a Disney Princess. There is a difference between staying on the ball when it comes to what’s on the runways, and giving yourself over entirely to the kind of fashions that are only ever meant to be purchased in the Forever 21-disposable level of investment. We all know how people must feel looking back at pictures of themselves from the 80s when they were a blur of Jersey mall bangs and hammer pants. We should be better about it now.
4. You consistently put off stuff with your family.
Your grandmother/mother/aunt calls you and you’re like “Ehhhhhhh….. but….. ehhhhh,” and then you hit ignore and go back to drinking with your friends.
One day, you’re gonna be real, real sad about all the times you did that. And you totally already know that, but there’s something about that immediate pressure of having to interact so closely with a family member who may or may not launch into an unsolicited tirade about your lackluster love life which is just too much to bear in the moment. But these people are not forever, and there are only so many times we’re going to be able to blow them off.
5. The traveling you’ve been meaning to do always falls by the wayside.
If there is anything more painful than seeing pictures pop up on your news feed of someone else getting to go to that place you’ve always wanted to go but never actually made it to, I don’t want to know what it is. There’s just a part of your brain that can’t help but be like, “No, stop it, you will never appreciate this like I would, stop updating your Facebook status about all the seafood with aioli sauce you’re eating and go live this like GOD INTENDED YOU TO, YOU UNGRATEFUL HEATHEN.”
And this is made all the worse when you know that, at the end of the day, the real reasons you’re not doing the traveling you want are lack of planning and lack of money organizing — both things you could control if you want to. Seeing that over and over again erodes the spirit like nothing else, especially when it’s in your hands.
6. You often bail on things, only to regret not going.
You can’t even explain why you bail out on things. You just get all tired and weird and anxious and can’t bear to go to that concert, or that night out, or that birthday party. Then, the next day, you see all the evidence of the good time that you missed and feel at once like an enormous ass and a total loser for not having gone with everyone. The missed opportunities pile up on one another until you realize that there is a whole section of your life you’ve been putting off in order to fill more of your time with Pringles and Netflix. (Not that Pringles-and-Netflix isn’t a sacred, near-spiritual time of your life which must be respected, but it shouldn’t be the vast majority of your spare time, if we’re being honest.)
7. You stay in the wrong relationships, even though you know they’re terrible.
On some logical, reasonable level, you know that they’re an asshole. And you can even feel yourself as you rationalize, “Ehh, I’m young, good dick and the contact high of their affection is enough of a reason to submit myself to extended emotional manipulation.” But the relationships which are marked by dishonesty, emptiness, and insecurity are something that no one deserves — even if you are in their 20s, and even if said asshole is an incredibly good-looking and charming person that makes you feel like a special, chosen person for dating them. If you’re going nights on end without being called back, or getting lied to, or being made to feel ugly, you know what you need to do. Even if you want to put it off until you’re closer to 30 to actually do it.