As 20-somethings, we make a lot of mistakes, and rightfully. We’re navigating adulthood and independence and self-reliance in a way that’s new to us. We’re navigating jobs and growth and learning; love and heartbreak and hookups. We’re simply bound to be doing some damage.
But as 20-somethings, it seems we’re also doing something else: dealing with our problems by running towards awesome.
We might be making mistakes, but we’ve learned to coax ourselves into believing it’s right and okay to avoid dealing with them. We’ve learned to tell ourselves that it’d be easier for everyone if we keep quiet.
We’re a generation that’s learned to embrace and even idolize apathy and sarcasm and the art of being chill, so when something needs to be confronted, we don’t know how to do it, because we’ve been fine-tuned to run and avoid. There don’t exist problems that we can’t joke our way out of, or pretend aren’t really happening, or downplay the importance of. There don’t exist problems for which we have to hold ourselves accountable or can’t shake our way out of feeling that we just weren’t really wrong.
We’re good at running towards awesome.
And maybe we have good reason to be; being a 20-something is confusing and downright complicated. We’re simultaneously learning our own power and our own helplessness. We’re coming to understand responsibility and autonomy and at the same time calling our parents when something goes wrong. We aren’t as invincible as innocent naiveté once led us to believe, nor are we as fragile as our smallness once made us feel.
So in many ways we 20-somethings are caught in an in-between, a strange place between a shed “has been” and some vague and far-off “will be,” and thus are a tangled mess of contradictions. And these contradictions we are full of.
We want to be the best version of ourselves but we don’t want to have to face ourselves.
We’re tired of keeping up the front but we don’t know how to drop the jokes.
We want to care about something but we don’t know what it really means to care about anything.
We’re plagued by our desire for connection but haunted by our inability to commit.
We want to offer everything to someone but we’re too emotionally bankrupt to give something that we can’t take.
So we have another drink.
We ghost on the person we were starting to fall for.
We shy away from anything that could push us too hard.
And we slip into a motionless state where the world is going somewhere around us and by running towards awesome we can trick ourselves into thinking we are actually going somewhere with it.
We run towards awesome. We run towards awesome.
What we don’t realize is that we’re dead-eyed and vacant in a freefall and when we smile, not really there. What we don’t realize is that we’re running into a dark tunnel that’s actually tapering off into nothing. The inside of our brains might be a chatter loop about what we should do, can’t do, could do, but as long as we keep running towards awesome, we can silence that soundtrack and don’t have to feel that there’s anything wrong.
Because as long as we’re running towards awesome, we’re okay; we’ve got this. Can’t you see how tough we are? Can’t you see just how thick our skin is?
But behind our feigned apathy, our stupid jokes, our derisive sarcasm, our quintessential chill, we’re scared shitless. As 20-somethings who are navigating adulthood and self-reliance and love and learning, there is no room for vulnerability, because as 20-somethings who are thrust into a decade of such total discomfort, there is no room for further error and damage. As 20-somethings, we are standing on top of a thousand-foot ledge and to feel anything too fully is our self-assisted suicide.
So we keep running, towards awesome, towards awesome, towards awesome, towards awesome. If we’re lucky, at some point we surface and see we’ve become a shell. If we’re lucky, we run until something or someone somehow, somehow smacks us awake and makes us slow down, until life reaches a hand out to us to pull us on up. And when this happens, we have to reach back. The alternative is that we run forever – towards awesome, never overboard but also never quite alive, cruising on a line, endlessly and numbly into oblivion.