As I approach 28, I feel like I have a fairly firm grasp on the specific angsts of the mid-to-late twenties. If I had to sum up this time, I’d describe it as “there is just so much happening.” Or, in the words of the crown jewel of television, ~~it’s all happening~~.* I feel both overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude and anticipation and also exhausted with uncertainty and anxiety and hopes and fears and goals. I go to bed most nights with the distinct sense that “I AM PRESENTLY BECOMING WHO I AM MEANT TO BE AND EVERY MOMENT IS SO SIGNIFICANT.” Which, I gotta say, is not the most relaxing thought to hover directly over you as you try to fall asleep.
There are many elements that go into this feeling, and if you are interested, here’s a small sample of thoughts that dart around my mind in the course of a day: What do I need to accomplish today? What do I need to do this week? I should watch more critically acclaimed TV. Do I want to make partner one day? I should spend more time with my family. I want to travel more. I can’t believe Donald Trump is the president of the United States. Why does everyone else look like they’re on vacation always? Does it look like I’m on vacation always? How am I going to afford four kids? Is it irresponsible to have four kids? I should be a better friend. I have achieved a lot of my goals. Money is not the most important thing. Our phones are ruining us. I can’t wait to post this on Instagram. I want to live in Kansas City forever. Marriage is an unnecessary and oppressive institution. My life is incomplete until I have a dog. I want to be a stay-at-home mom. I would hate being a stay-at-home mom. This year I’m going to start writing a book. Is my life boring? If I stopped watching reality TV, I’d certainly spend that time doing something productive. I feel like I’m getting the hang of being a lawyer. Should I become more domestic? I can’t believe Donald Trump is the president of the United States. I’d like to lose 10 pounds. I don’t care that much about my weight. Do my coworkers like me? I need to try 100% at everything every day or else I’m wasting my good fortune. The only thing I’m good at is nourishing my friendships. I could be happy at a 9-5. I want to volunteer with kids to nourish my soul. I do not have time to do anything else. If I dropped dead today, what would people say about me? I am too spontaneous to commit to a dog. I miss my brother. Does everyone else like their jobs more than I like mine? There is no point in trying 100% at everything because the world is going to shit and nothing matters. I am really happy. I am definitely capable of waking up at 5 am to live a fuller life. Should I be married yet? Money is important to me. I can’t believe Donald Trump is the president of the United States. I really enjoy working at a law firm. I want to move tomorrow. I need to map out the next 5, 10, 50 years of my life. Planning anything is boring and futile. I need to say no to more things. I need to say yes to everything. I enjoy sleeping much more than I love anything I’d do at 5 am. Am I doing as well as I should be at 27? I am doing great. I am screwing everything up. I feel like an adult. Why don’t I feel like an adult yet?
… and this is all in one day.
I recognize that I am predisposed to neurotic overthinking. I recently read Turtles All the Way Down (shout out to the power women book club) and I found the protagonist’s uncontrollable, unrealistic spiraling thoughts to be familiar, to say the least. So maybe I am feeling these things more frequently or more intensely than others. But, perhaps naively, I can’t help feeling like I’m not alone here. This time in my life feels incredibly meaningful, like every decision I make or don’t make is going to lead directly to the rest of my life. A Choose Your Own Adventure playing out right in front of me. I did not used to feel like this. In high school, college, even law school, I had a pretty clear path in front of me and I felt reasonably confident in that path. I made choices and worked hard and had fun and knew the rest would fall into place. Maybe it’s being permanently out of that comfortable school structure that has me feeling adrift. Or, I don’t know, adrift isn’t the right word. I know exactly what I like and exactly what it’s important to me and exactly what my goals are, but I can’t figure out how to make them all happen, both on the smaller week-to-week scale and in the larger sense of what is my legacy (I told you guys, it’s a heaping amount to digest before bed). It’s having the option of a dozen good toppings and wanting to create the best possible ice cream sundae without vomiting everywhere from overeating. It’s like I am having FOMO for my own life.
Distilling through all the existential worries, my biggest daily hurdle is time. I think about time constantly – am I spending it correctly? How can I be more efficient? How can I have more fun? How can I work more? How can I spend more time with other people? How can I carve out time alone? I imagine many people feel this way, that there is simply not enough time in the day to achieve all the things you need to do and all the things you want to do. I obsess over it because I, perhaps again naively, feel like I can manage and control it. Plus, I have the particular privilege of having to bill my time in six minute increments. Let me tell you, nothing makes you more acutely aware of how you’re spending your life than billing your time in six minute increments. I am proud and relieved that I have created a life for myself where there are so many wonderful elements that I want to – and can – do a million things. Some weeks I feel like I am crushing it, and in the span of any given month, I feel pretty good about what I’ve done. But there are definitely days and weeks where I am overwhelmed or disappointed in myself or wondering how this is going to be sustainable. It’s something I consistently struggle with, and I suppose this is just the reality of adulthood, that you have developed enough responsibilities and interests and commitments and relationships that what once fit neatly in a box is now bursting at the seams. Once I started dating Nick (HI BUDDY, here’s your shout out), I feel that crunch even more. I already felt like my plate was 100% full and now I want to hang out with this guy all the time and WHERE IS IT ALL GOING TO FIT!? And please note that I am 27 with no kids, no pets, and no real responsibilities outside of myself. I know it’s only going to get more full from here on out. Which again begs the question, WHERE IS IT ALL GOING TO FIT!?
On the one hand, I read back through this and conclude that I am actually insane. People who reflect this much – and feel comfortable enough to put this on the internet! – are fools who should relax and just be grateful for the things they have and let go of the rest. On the other hand, I believe wholeheartedly that authentic feelings and experiences are always worth it, and connecting with others over those shared feelings and experiences is kind of the whole point. Plus, one of my 18 in 2018 goals is to recommit to this blog because it genuinely is one of the delights of my life. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is just the natural young adulthood stage unfolding and I am in the thick of it. It would be nice if other people feel similarly or have advice or can tell me how to balance everything or can at least tell me I am not alone in this. And despite the uncertainty of it all, ultimately this time of life is pretty fulfilling and exciting and I feel like I am really living. If you have any wisdom, I’ll buy you a drink at Tom Tom, where I will most certainly find the time to visit because IT’S! ALL! HAPPENING!**
* Please do yourself a favor and watch Vanderpump Rules if you aren’t. It is the single best reality TV show (dare I say best overall TV show?) on air.
** Seriously, I think about Sandoval crying into the dog at Katie and Tom’s wedding at least once a week.