What I Thought I’d Be Doing At Age 26

Dubova / (Shutterstock.com)
Dubova / (Shutterstock.com)

Ten years ago, at age 16 (mother of God, that was ten years ago?!), I was most likely sitting on the back porch of my best friend Jill’s house, smoking a cigarette and quoting Liar Liar with my spot-on Jim Carrey impression. Fuck, I was cool. Life was great, but at the time, I didn’t know it. My biggest responsibility was making sure that the color pink was snuffed from my wardrobe, ensuring that the world knew just how hardcore this Gothic chick really was.

I went to class, but I thought of it more as a place to kill time before the awesomeness that awaited me in impending adulthood. I was way too smart for high school and only the “real world” was worthy of my full attention and effort. Soon, I thought, I’ll be living with Jill in some chic apartment in the big city, working an exciting job as a travel writer or a dolphin trainer at Sea World.

I’ll have more friends than I’ll know what to do with. We will hang out in cool bars (‘cause, you know, I’ll be allowed to drink alcohol by then) and tell sophisticated, grown-up jokes about 401Ks and taxes. Can you believe Richard in accounting drives an Oldsmobile?! Mah-ha-ha-ha.

I’ll have gone on at least one long backpacking trip through Europe or South America. I’ll take vacations in Belize and write a book about my experiences. The book will be published immediately and become a national bestseller.

By age 26, I might even be married to the man of my dreams. He’ll be a sweet guy trapped in a bad boy’s body, and he’ll be madly in love with me.

But as I write this, I realize that I haven’t done any of these things. Sure, I went to college and have acquired all of the debt that went with it. My weight has increased by a good 20 pounds, and my idea of a nice Friday night is one in which I don’t have to work and can watch YouTube song parodies with my dog. Jill and I have not spoken in six years; in fact, I have barely spoken with anyone from my high school since graduation.

I wake up at 5PM every day and go to my overnight retail job at 10 every night. I am single and live with two roommates who keep me awake playing electric guitar and slamming the door to the bathroom—the only bathroom in the house.

I have no real friends to speak of, unless you count my sister, dog, and the chick from that one class I took in college, who has moved back home after realizing her degree was not going to help her become financially independent.

It’s not so bad, though. I read on Thought Catalog that it’s called the “quarter-life crisis” or “mid-twenties slump.” From what I understand, it’s natural and temporary. So my life has not turned out as exciting as quickly as I thought it would, but I still have hope. It is harder to control my situation now that I have bills to pay, but it can be done. I have applied for a job for a local nonprofit and have managed to secure an interview for next Wednesday.

To the girl I was at 16: You have no idea of the struggle that lies ahead, but your enthusiasm is encouraging. Your idealism is what propels me to keep going, and your confidence inspires me. One day, I’ll make you proud. It just might take a while. TC mark

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