Life is harder than I thought it would be. I figured by the time I was twenty-five, I would have my stuff together enough to live a productive and fulfilling life. Wrong. I’m twenty-seven now and I feel even more lost than I did a few years ago. Daily I wonder what it is going to take to make myself feel like a grown-up. Is there a moment when you finally feel like you’ve merged from the life as your parent’s child to a real, live grown-up? And if so, when does it happen?
I keep asking my own parents what it was like for them when they were my age. They were newly married with no kids yet, and they both worked. They really can’t explain what it was like. Maybe they can’t remember, or maybe they don’t want me to know because the reality of what real life is like is something they don’t want to throw on me now and have it destroy what, if any, hope I have left. It feels like a struggle every day not to freak out about money and stress and life in general. Like there is no light at the end of the tunnel and I will forever be trying to live up to what I thought being a “grown-up” was supposed to be like.
The cold, hard truth of my life is that I don’t know anything about anything. I am lost, and I have a sneaking suspicion that most of my friends my age are in similar boats. I wonder how long it will take me to feel secure in my life, and yet, deep down I know that the possibility of me ever feeling secure is not very likely. I am by nature a worrier, and now that I am older, the worries are bigger and more pronounced. And harder to control. I spend a lot of my time running statistics and numbers through my head trying to make it all add up. And it just doesn’t.
I went to college. I spent a loan company’s money to pay for a degree that I will probably never be able to pay back. I work in jobs that I can tolerate, but not necessarily ones that I am totally in love with. Work has become something I dread, and I’m scared of that. I wonder if I am different, if other people like what they do and I’m just not trying hard enough to like what I am doing. And there is definitely a part of me that wonders if maybe I am right, and working is sucky and boring and a means to an end. How the hell should I know? Again, I turn to my parents on this one, and they can’t tell me the right answer. Why did they spend so much time when I was younger convincing me that they were right about everything, only to trick me into believing it and not being able to go to them now, when I really need it?
Loving someone is a whole other story. I don’t know if I am ever doing it right. Love, I mean. I know when I do love someone, but I don’t ever know how to make that person believe it. And when I do (or did, as the case may be) find the one I believe to be the right one, how do I convince them that I am the right one for them? It seems like too many factors can affect the overall outcome of life, and I’m beginning to resent it. If God, or whatever higher power, didn’t believe in love, then why does it exist at all? Why do we let our hearts become tangled into someone else’s in the hopes that they will declare everlasting devotion to us in the end? I have become more and more cynical as I get older and life gets harder.
I married a man two years ago, only to have him leave me for a crappy job eight months into our marriage. I bounced back, still believing in love, except I am now terrified all the time of being burned again. Have I learned? Definitely not, because I want what my parents seem to have: a loving and supportive marriage where they both feel secure. And I’ll keep trying, even if it means enduring years of upset and hurt because even through my cynicism, I still believe in love. Am I stupid or what?
Somebody my age should write a story like this, a declaration if you will. Declare that life is unfair and hard and we never really know what the hell we are living for. Then, when the bright eyed eighteen-year-olds of tomorrow get into the real world, they have accurate expectations of what their life will really become. I wish someone had done it for me. Then I wouldn’t have such unrealistic expectations of what life should be like and my worrying would be significantly smaller. I just want to be happy and I am beginning to think that happiness is all a façade and people try to convince you it exists to make their own lives have meaning. The god-honest truth is, work isn’t usually fun, and people let you down, so be prepared for a lifetime of both happening. If we can believe in this, then when the really good stuff happens, we will be properly surprised and pleased. It’s all about the level of expectations we have in life. The lower they are, the better things seem and the less impact bad things can have on our lives. Maybe …