They say it, and I know the truth of it now,
You can’t be a hero in your own home town.
They know my lows and my highs,
But they don’t even out.
They’ve seen my best and my worst,
And ponder both but with doubt.
Half awake, half asleep,
They don’t see what I see.
I am forced to go inward,
Forced to face the true me.
I am not one thing or another,
But many a thing.
I am faded but in color,
Worth the effort of restoring.
Under questions hides the vibrancy,
That answers won’t satisfy.
I question the vibrancy,
And who stole it from my eyes.
The only thing without a doubt,
As the shadows are cast by clouds,
Is that it can be washed away,
The fear of being great.
So, the title may seem misleading. I can be guilty of a lot of annoying 20-something behaviors. There are some, however, that I genuinely cannot wait to see people get over. Yes, our 20s are a time to explore and find ourselves, but really it’s a time to transition from being teenagers with few adult responsibilities or concerns, to full fledged human beings with lives of our own choosing. No wonder we run around like chickens with our heads cut off half of the time.
As someone who was pretty much raised as an only child for 13 years of my life, I’ve gone through a few major life adjustments and wake-up calls throughout the years. Being in my 20s is one of them. But as I learn more about myself and my wants, and observe the struggles of other 20-somethings around me, I want to point out a few things that we’ll hopefully retire from by time we’re leaving our 20s behind.
1. The Dramatic Declaration, or “Dramclation,” if you will
Have you seen those posts on Facebook that say, “Go ahead and delete me if you must!” after someone posts about their political, religious, or general opinion about something, knowing it might not be popular with some friends? Well, I have seen this one too many times. All I have to say is, “okay, I’ll delete you for being such a drama king/queen.” I can be pretty damn dramatic, but the fact of the matter is that if you were to respectfully state your opinion instead of looking for a fight, because it gives you some weird thrill, most would respectfully debate the issue with you or give their honest opinion. All I can think is that you don’t really want someone’s honest opinion, you just want people to hear you and tell you you’re right. You’d rather your friend count go down than to actually back up a point with factual evidence. Or you’d rather start a fight than have a peaceful discourse.
NEWS FLASH — Hearing other views and opinions is good. Learning diplomacy is good. Confrontation for the purpose of learning can be good. So stop with the “Dramclation” and just state something simply, even if you are challenged.
2. Using the excuses like, “Sorry, I’m so hung over,” or “Sorry, I fell asleep” to shirk responsibilities
While I was waiting at the airport for you to pick me up like you said you would, you were busy slumbering away after a night of getting so wasted that you forgot my plane came in today. Also, you have no gas money because you spent it on alcohol. First of all, this hasn’t actually happened to me, but I’ve had many similar circumstances occur. Second, who are you again? My friend? Sure. My irresponsible friend who I conveniently forget to tell my mother about because, as open minded as she is, she’ll inevitably tell me that I need much better friends than you, and leave me feeling like I’m settling for whatever I can get in the one department where I thought I was excelling. Can you say buzz kill? I feel like we’re trained in college to expect our friends to be hot messes, so we don’t complain. But what happens when we’re in the real world with real life things happening? What happens when you miss a job interview? What happens when we’re married? When we become parents? You left your kid at daycare because you fell asleep? I know this happens, and I’m probably bringing bad karma to myself for even mentioning it, but come on.
NEWS FLASH — Sure, we’re not there yet, well some are, but in my primary group, we may not be there yet, but we’re not as far as we’d like to think. So maybe it’s time to set your alarm clock to ring more than once, and to cut off the drinks by midnight when you have something important to do the next day.
3. Avoiding Tough Conversations
I’ll admit, I get off on talking to people who will have an honest to goodness uncomfortable conversation with me about something of importance. I pissed you off and you told me? Hallelujah! You actually listened and took it in stride when you pissed me off and I told you? It’s a damn miracle! We’re so sensitive about criticism, being uncomfortable, or having to think critically, that we avoid the connection that comes from talking it out altogether. We want to talk AT one another instead of TO one another. Hear me, but I can’t hear you.
NEWS FLASH — Other people exist and have things to say that may hurt you or make you feel like you’re doing something wrong. And you may be doing something wrong. They may be doing something wrong. But you’ll never learn if you hide from the conversation. You’re risking relationships, opportunities, and your own development by shying away from that one talk that could make or break a situation. Ball up!
4. The Dance with the Gender of Interest
Whichever gender you’re attracted to, stop being a plaything for that gender. Sexual liberation is an excuse for most people to be completely careless with their bodies, and thus, with their quality of being. The “dance” isn’t even just sex. The “dance” is interaction in general. I know so many ridiculously talented, wonderful women who become completely idiotic when dealing with men — myself, included. Same goes for men. What about women makes you such a horrible person all of a sudden? What about your penis makes it necessary to lead women on and treat them poorly? And what about his penis makes it necessary to allow yourself to be led on and treated poorly as a woman? Similarly (and can apply to all orientations), women, what are you doing to men who find you interesting and want to be your friend? Are you assuming they like you and being weird about it? Men, do you think that every woman who is kind to you will fall in love with you?
NEWS FLASH — That section has a lot of questions, because we really need to ask ourselves what it is we’re looking for in male/female relationships. So few work out as just being friends, so what exactly are we getting from the gender of interest in our lives, and what do we want to get? I’ll be honest, this one still plagues me. But it’s something to think about.
5. Asking for Advice and Doing the Opposite
We’re not teenagers anymore. If someone you trust gives you an honest opinion, why is your first instinct to rebel? Because you know they’re right, probably. Your mom, best friend, aunt, cousin, boss, mentor, lover… People who know you will tell it like it is, and you ignore it while you run the other way screaming YOLO.
NEWS FLASH — Making the same mistakes that others have made is why history repeats itself. We’re wired to think our outcome will be different. And sometimes it is. But in reality, we’re really just too fearful of what we know instinctually to be true because it goes against what we want. What do we want? To feel alive. To feel free. So we make the mistakes ourselves because learning the hard way keeps us from getting bored. The thing is, some things aren’t worth learning the hard way. Some, we need to learn the hard way to grow. But most… well, it’s better to embrace some tradition.
So as we go on our travels, finishing out our decade of agonizing growing pains, I will tell you what I tell myself from my favorite kid’s movie “Meet The Robinsons” (yes, kid’s movie, the irony doesn’t escape me)…
Keep. Moving. Forward.
*Note: I wrote this in a private moment of emotional turmoil after hours of reminiscing for the sake of updating information about my successes in my career endeavors. I didn’t intend to post it, but the friend I refer to is such a muse, that I couldn’t help but notice how my feelings about this particular relationship are so easily expressed through words compared to so many others.*
If you could look at me with the same amusement in your eyes that you did before this mess, I would leave it all alone. But you are not amused. You are not anything in regards to me, and the realization of that weighs heavily on my heart. I don’t seek to hear you say “I love you” one more time, or even to experience the depths of connection that once existed, but I want only the laughter and comfort that came from just sitting side by side.
I miss you, Friend.
With tears that refuse to fall, they’re so stubborn, I miss you.
With fondness for the memories that float through my mind, I miss you.
With complete disregard to the pain we selfishly inflicted upon one another, I miss you.
More than anything, I wish you well. I wish you the strength to be everything you’ve always dreamed of and the courage to open your heart, even to fools. We’re all fools, especially when it comes to love. I wish you the strength to feel the affection that comes from suffering us fools. And I hope one day that you can ask me about myself, and truly care to know the answer, even if my hand is in someone else’s hand.
Thank you for seeing in me what I so often cannot see in myself.
Until we meet again,
I’ve always wanted to give my first born daughter a snow-themed name. When I was younger, I loved the snow. I loved bundling up and tubing down a hill, anxiously awaiting the school cancellations, and, mostly, I loved turning off my lights at night and standing in my bedroom window watching snow fall. During the years when I was fearful of the dark, the white night sky gave me peace in my slumber. I would sleep with the blinds open to better see the flakes fall if I happened to wake up in the middle of the night.
As I’ve gotten older and my responsibilities have become focused on survival, I find that snow has turned into a hindrance. Snow has become a sign of potential car accidents, longer commutes to and from work, mundane Facebook status updates about the terrible drivers, and pleas from acquaintances to join them on a trip to the mountains, seemingly in the middle of the week, leaving me to wonder if I’m the only one with a real job.
I wake up and trudge outside to clean off and warm up my vehicle, barely noticing how the flakes sparkle all around me, and feeling like the snow days are reserved for people quite unlike myself. I know intellectually that we sometimes need to feel that life can be slowed down, even if it’s only long enough to clear a pathway. Perhaps the ones who are granted these days have better learned to appreciate them, I don’t know.
But what I do know is this — tonight, I saw that white night sky highlighted with pink from the city lights for the first time in years. Tonight, I remember the walks as snow fell. Silence. It was silent. And like the lone wolf who had to be shown the ways of pack mentality, I remembered why the solitude of winter brought me so much peace. Winter…
Until we meet again.
After this day I’ve had, I would like to put something out on the inter-webs:
Never discount the details of your life.
The roommate, her friend, and I were driving to the airport talking about relationship problems and on the way passed the immediate aftermath of a giant car accident. One car was rolled over, one smoking, and the friend says, “Well that puts things into perspective. Oh, here I am whining about so and so.”
You know what I say? Whine about love. Get mad at your boss. Celebrate little victories. Don’t answer the call from the person who was two-faced. Don’t eat the cake if you’re dieting. Eat the cake. Feel frustrated when someone is doing something you want to be doing with their lives. Be excited about your upcoming vacation. These are the details of your life. They make you who you are, they are what happens so that you grow and learn, they are what make the memories.
The big issues will persist. The big life changes will occur. But what happens in between determines how you handle the rest. Never discount the details of your life.
10 Signs That You Take Yourself Too Seriously
1. You are often offended or shocked by things, especially things that didn’t even happen to you.
2. You comment regularly on how other people are doing things with a mocking, yet slightly longing tone.
3. You say, “Oh, I don’t do that,” “Oh, that’s not me,” “That’s just how I am,” or “Well, THEY can do what THEY want but…”
4. You have a hard time laughing at yourself because you rarely even catch the joke. So you find yourself laughing uncomfortably while looking for an explanation. Example: “*laughs awkwardly* Wait what? What does that mean?”
5. Your voice has a general upper inflection like you’re always asking a question because what you are really saying is, “Do you understand with me?” “Do you agree with me?” “Are you my mama?”
6. You ignore people, tell your friend how much you like their crush’s new girlfriend/boyfriend, boss everyone around, or give unsolicited opinions on someone’s appearance or relationship, and then find yourself wondering why nobody has called in a while.
7. You make fun of philosophical, artistic, and focused people for being too “deep” and then have a mental breakdown about getting a bad color job on your hair or the wrong latte.
8. Your social circle doesn’t stray from the same race/economic class.
9. You ignore things that are unpleasant and rarely get personal. “What homeless guy?” or “I don’t have parents or a past…”
10. You say, “No offense, but…”
Having best friends is great. Your twenties would be no fun without having someone to care about your well-being…
Someone who cares about your future: “You have ten minutes to change out of your yoga pants, we’re going out… do you want to die alone?”
…about your health: “Okay so, if we split…