Of all the criticisms that Thought Catalog ever gets, the most common one has to be its obsession with the lives of twenty-somethings. Almost every day, Thought Catalog is telling how how they act, think breathe, which Game of Thrones character they like the best and which *NSYNC member they are still masturbating to (none of the above; BBMak, because I can’t resist an accent). The only thing we seem to be more obsessed with than ourselves is Girls — that show that we love and love to hate and love to love to hate. Like this decade of our lives, we don’t know how it makes us feel and we want to talk about it.
Despite the snarky tone in this opening paragraph, I have great empathy for my compatriots soldiering through this uncertain time of no finances and no health insurance. I’m grateful for this time in my life where my mistakes don’t mean quite as much yet, because I don’t have a mortgage or a kid to take care of; Baby Easton/Lorelai is laying in celestial wait somewhere while I still figure myself out and work on tricking someone into getting up on this for the next forty to fifty years. I’m thinking a Patty Hearst situation might be the best way to go.
But despite my respect for the time in my life where I’m Still Figuring It All Out, I can’t wait to turn 30, only to find out that it’s not that different from your 20s. I can’t wait to still not have it all figured out, make an ass out of myself on dates, never figure out how to properly interact with people and turn into Bridget Jones. I can’t wait to break the rules of ageism by not getting that much wiser and keeping my flaws. I like those flaws. Those flaws are a part of me.
With age I feel doesn’t come wisdom but experience, having made mistakes before and knowing not to make them again. However, that doesn’t stop us from doing the wrong thing, because we’re not lab rats. We don’t always learn through punitive reward, knowing that if we cross that line, we’ll get shocked. There’s a beauty in transgression and continuing to out ourselves out there and feel pain. That doesn’t go away in any decade, and Philip Roth’s work shows us that pain sticks with us for the rest of our lives. We can kvetch about it or we can choose to see the wonder of our predicaments.
I think the reason we get so much tunnel vision about the next chapters of our lives is that we learn to see ourselves as being structurally segmented, as if the character in the next phase of our saga will be completely different, the myth of a reinvented self. I often joke that I can’t wait to meet myself when I’m 35 (like in Looper) because that’s going to be my year. (2015, you watch out.)
And that’s true. I genuinely can’t wait to see how my life turns out, where I’ll end up moving after graduate school, what I’ll be doing, if I ever get to publish a book (#1 on my bucket list), what friends I’ll have, if I ever find a guy I don’t hate in three weeks and whether or not they develop a solution to my hairline that isn’t a baseball cap or a straight razor.
However, I’m just as excited for the process of getting there — the roadblocks, the highs and lows and the numerous Evil Exes I’ll accumulate along the way. I know we all want to be “settled down,” but the process of being unsettled, restless and easily stirred is just as fun. I’m 25, not a civil suit lawyer. I don’t need to settle when I’m 35 — or ever. Screw my Dirty Thirties. How about my Slutty Seventies or my Naughty Nineties?
What I’m looking forward to in my thirties is less the experience of age — although the experience of having (slightly) more money is going to be pretty, pretty good — and more the perspective it affords. I can’t wait for the feeling of being able to look back on myself and smile like you do when you look at old pictures of myself now. The other day one of my best friends from high school — who I haven’t connected with in years — posted an old picture of me on my Facebook. In it, I could be mistaken for a different person without my trademark facial hair or my glasses. I also still had hair.
At first I was taken aback by how different I seemed and how childlike and naive I looked with my eyes closed and my tongue hanging out. You learn to be ashamed of your past selves and the person you “used to be” and for a long time I couldn’t listen to Belle and Sebastian because I listened to them in high school. How good could they be if I liked them when I was 15?
But when I looked at myself, so perfectly stupid, I thought: “You know, that kind was awesome.” For the first time, I felt like we might not be so different after all.