You ever wake up in the morning and ask yourself, “Where the hell did the last 23 years go?” Yeah, me too. It happened this week. I just finished the first week of my career, and well, I haven’t quite been able to decide how I feel about it.
I’m excited, I think? I’m excited about never having to step foot in a classroom again. I was never a good student, and quite frankly, never wanted to be. Our intelligence goes far beyond showing up to class for attendance and cramming knowledge into our minds that we’ll forget in one week’s time. I always wonder how much better I’d be at my craft if I had spent the last decade practicing instead of learning outdated information that society required me to learn.
I’m excited about finally being able to pursue and perfect my passion, and being paid to do so. I’m excited to be a young twenty something in a big city. My mom always told me the best years of her life were when she was living on her own in Manhattan after college. I’m excited to maybe get a dog, and learn how to cook something other than chicken parmesan and tacos.
But, I’m nervous. I’m definitely f*cking nervous. I’m nervous that the future will become a vicious cycle of monotony. I’m nervous the future will not live up to the heights of my past. I’m nervous that I’m hurdling towards the rest of my life far faster than I expected.
One of the most important people in my universe texted me the other day, saying they were having a midlife crisis. First, I said that I hope that it’s only a quarter-life crisis, given we’re only 23 years old. Then, I asked them what’s wrong. They responded: “I’m coming to realize that you work to die.”
The notion that we work just to die taps into most of our deepest fear: the potential complacency that the future holds. Work, gym, shower, dinner, sleep, repeat. Work, gym, shower, dinner, sleep, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Fall in love. Squeeze out a couple of kids. Retire. Then wait to die.
But what does one do when they find themselves face to face with the dark unknown that is the future, the rest of your life? Do you go around it, cross your fingers, politely ask it to cooperate? Do you run and hide in the past that you miss so much? No, actually, you do neither of those things. You look the future right in the face, beat the everliving sh*t out of it, tie a leash on it, and say “You’re coming with me. You’re mine now.” The only way to conquer change is to embrace it.
I’ve only been an “adult” for about a week, but I’ve learned quite a lot in these mere 7 days. I’ve realized that just because I’ve started paying my own bills, doesn’t mean I can’t still waste money. Just because I can afford filet mignon, doesn’t mean I still can’t live off of microwave pizza and the chicken parmesan I’ve spent a lifetime perfecting. Just because you have to be a professional 40 hours a week, doesn’t mean you can’t spend the other 128 hours of the week being the immature asshole you were when you were 13. The point is, it doesn’t matter how old you are: it never did. I know 17 year olds who act like graduate students, and medical students who act like infantile children. Just because your adult life begins, doesn’t mean the fun ends. Life is supposed to ascend, but it’s up to you to make sure it does.
There’s a quote by C.S. Lewis that I came across a couple of years ago, and it stuck with me. I think it applies to not just this moment in my life, but all of our lives:
“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.”
It’s a fine quote, however, I’d tell C.S. Lewis I have a solution to this problem:
Never look back, because the potential of the future is far greater than whatever the past could possibly have to offer.
Never look back.