Being a “responsible” twenty-something, so much of my time is spent focusing on getting it right early on. Apply for this. Think about that. Don’t drink this. Don’t lick that. And for the most part, I’m careful not to mess anything up beyond repair. For some reason, there’s a crazy pressure on us to jumpstart our careers, find the people we’re going to marry, move to the cities we plan on dying in, and pick out what we’ll wear to our funerals all by the time we’re 24.
We don’t stay in relationships if we know there’s no future. We take jobs we hate in the hope that they’ll lead to one that will pay us enough to get us out of the bear trap that is college loans. We live our lives for the tomorrow we want to have instead of living how we want to in the first place.
Lately, some of my close friends have started to get engaged. Some of them are recent college grads. Some aren’t even out of college yet. On one hand, I applaud them for having their lives so together. (I, for one, had a chocolate cupcake for breakfast.) But on the other hand, it scares me to think that soon I’ll have to attend weddings and baby showers and before you know it you’ll be at your friend’s retirement party talking about fun ways to spend your golden years in a lake front community for the elderly.
I’ve found that I don’t want to be that guy in my late 30s that’s completely settled down in an awesome apartment with a great high paying job. (If my parents ever read this they’ll probably have his and hers strokes right on the spot.) I want to be that person who moved to India for three months to “find myself.” I want to be the kind of person who moves to a new city because I want to and not because it would be a “smart career move.” I want to struggle to pay rent for a year or two and highly consider selling my sperm. I want to make some art I’m proud of and some I pretend never existed. I want to visit a new place and lie to everyone I meet about my name and my job and see how long it takes me to be figured out. I want to try hot yoga and I want to tell people just how much I hated it. I want to be the person who falls off the face of the earth for a few months because I was living on a farm so I could “get away from it all.” I want to couch surf for a month, not because I have to, but because I’d rather wake up on a couch in a friend’s place than in the comfort and security of my own bed. Basically, I’d rather live a messy life and have a million stories to tell than live responsibly.
Right now, my life is planned out in a neat list of goals, achievements, steps, and moves and lately I’ve come to realize that life will never be as compact and compartmentalized as any list. I don’t exactly want to be some kind of vagabond but I do want to embrace how messy life can be. Life is uncertain and weird and filled with adventure. I want to go on those adventures while I can.
As the great idealist philosopher Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
I think I need to stop and look around a bit.