The secret to getting older is not what I previously thought. You can’t find maturity in a thermos or in the right pair of sophisticated jeans or at a dinner party that’s serving things drenched in Béchamel sauce and kale and all those other foods that were created in a laboratory by Brooklyn hipsters that no one ever even heard of until they turned 20. No, the only way you’re going to survive your twenties is if you don’t hate every single person by the time you’re finished. If you can look around the room on your 30th birthday and be like “I am not the slightest bit annoyed by anyone right now”, you’ve won. Go collect your prize.
A lot has changed in the last few years. I have a full-time job, an accountant, a lawyer, and I got BILLS MOTHERFUCKER BILLS. I’m collecting adult-like things like they’re Beanie Babies and adorning my apartment with them. But the biggest change I’ve noticed as I enter my late 20s is my tolerance for bullshit. As in I have none. Zero. Zip. Nada. In college, I pretty much liked everybody or, at the very least, I could hang out with people without needing to gouge my eyes out. When I went to house parties, I would love meeting new people and hearing their stories. People surprised and delighted me. I was delighted.
Then something changed. I don’t know how or when or why but, all of a sudden, practically every person I met started to annoy me. I could predict what’d they say, all their stories blended together. Instead of being one of the last people at the party, I would be gunning for the door after two hours.
Joan Didion wrote about this in her seminal essay, “Goodbye To All That.” She talks about how, after living in New York for eight years, she felt like she had already met everyone she needed to meet. She’d go to parties and be introduced to people and it would all feel like static to her. To a certain extent, I can relate. And I don’t think this is a problem that’s particular to New York. These kind of misanthropic tendencies can creep up wherever you live.
My overarching feeling is this: PEOPLE ARE RIDICULOUS. EVERYBODY IS PSYCHO EXCEPT FOR ME. The conversations I’ve been subjected to at parties, the inane things people have said to me in complete seriousness would shock anyone. Often I feel like I’m in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Does anyone else feel the same way?
I know this isn’t a healthy way to be. In actuality, people are usually wonderful and harmless and worth knowing. Thinking otherwise gets you nowhere. Walking around with a perpetual chip on your shoulder is not the look for anyone. So the challenge is this: How do you approach things with the same zeal you did when you were 20? How do you not let your bad experiences sour future ones? How do you go to things feeling excited instead of filled with dread?
Whoever knows the answer to this is winning their 20s. They are OWNING the shit out of their age. I’m jealous of them. I’m jealous of anyone who isn’t jaded or naturally hesitant. I want to be more like them. How though?