NamasNote: This post was originally written in December, posted a bit later.
One of the weirdest things to me about being an adult is the realization that nobody has any clue what in the actual hell they’re doing. When I was growing up I assumed there was this magical point, a birthday probably, where everything clicked and you inherently knew how to navigate life. I can confirm for you that point is not in the first thirty two years of life, given my cursory investigation it doesn’t seem to exist which, frankly, is one of the biggest disappointments of adulthood.
One of the coolest things about being an adult is that you can pay people to do a lot of stuff. If you’re willing to pay the money you can have someone clean your house, cook or deliver every meal, do your laundry, even wash/dry/style your hair. What you can’t pay someone to do is navigate life for you*. Believe me, if it was a job that existed, I would GLADLY pay for it. Right now I’m in a steady stream of unloading one freakout after another on my mom, NamasDrew, and my former Gentleman Caller.
Last night FGC and I were texting about a situation I’ve been stewing on for a few weeks. I am trying to guess what someone else is thinking and reading way too much into every interaction. I find myself constantly dissecting it all, trying to see a very gray world in the stark black and white I prefer. FGC’s response, “it’s exhausting, ya?” Obviously it is. I’m tired all the damn time from doing this stuff but it’s who I am as a person. It’s how I function. But does it have to be?
Last week I had coffee with a friend who had noticed my life shift over the last year and wanted to talk about it. I’ll always have coffee and talk about my weird life, not surprising as I’m drinking coffee and writing about my weird life. We talked about a lot of stuff but the overarching conversation is that being in your 30s and not settled down is weird. It’s really weird. People tend to treat you with mixture of fascination and concern. Suddenly, or not so suddenly, you aren’t in the same place as your friends. While they’re navigating second homes and second kids, I’m trying to figure out if I’m being too picky from a Bumble exchange and should really go out with the guy who uses the wrong there/their/they’re. While bad date stories do really well for an easy laugh, they’re also their own special kind of depressing. Stepping away from a corporate job and trying to make it on my own, trying to write and teach and build a business is super cool. It’s even more stressful because it’s just me. There are days when I start think about every round of shots I bought, every purse I paid too much for, every ridiculous thing I ever spent money on because there’s nobody else supplying or spending the money. It’s. Just. Me.
Two weeks ago I canceled Christmas at my house. The only sign of the holiday is a wreath on my front door and Christmas on Death Row by my record player. As Holiday cards pour into my mailbox and holiday engagements pop up on Facebook, I’m filled with a familiar feeling. Being a March baby all of my friends had their driver’s licenses before me, could go to the bars before me, could drink before me. It’s that feeling. Being close enough to feel like you can and should be doing those things, and you aren’t. Don’t get me wrong, I am so happy for the people in my life who are experiencing these things. I love seeing their kids grow up and their successes both personal and professional. But it’s hard. It’s like climbing a mountain with a group and you’re suddenly the one who gets lost about halfway up.
I live for definition, to know the end of the story before I get there so I’m not hoping for something that doesn’t happen. I like paths, I like trails, I like to know the way I’m going is safe. My life right now is anything but those things. The landscape around me is constantly shifting, it’s uncharted. If I could pay someone else to figure out how to navigate everything for me, I would.
I tell people who ask about my life and the choices I make the same thing, that for a long time I followed the path I thought I was supposed to, and it didn’t make me happy. I tell people who ask that I decided to do what made me happy. There are days that are hard. There are days when I’m not sure how things are going to turn out but I keep showing up. There are days I walk miles, there are days I take a step back to reroute. But I keep doing the thing that makes me happy. I spend time with people who make me happy. I have to believe if I keep doing that, I’ll figure this thing out, I’ll forge a path that is truly mine. I’ll find the top of my mountain.
Generally, when I write something to share with you I’ve worked through a good piece of it. I haven’t with this, I’m still in the middle of it. I don’t have anything insightful, I don’t have advice to get through it, I can’t be your guide, your sherpa. I can listen to you. I can commiserate with you. I can split a bottle of Two Buck Chuck and an episode of Gilmore Girls with you. Nobody has it figured out, I’m just a lot more vocal about being lost.
*You can, however, find a therapist to talk to you about how to better navigate on your own but they will not tell you exactly what to do. Trust me, I’ve tried.