Sunday was a quiet and simple day.
The sort of day that every person looks forward to. Sunny, warm, and sweet.
I wandered around the house pondering what to do. I was bored and feeling completely stalled.
Boredom blurs the lines of content and ambivalence.
I paced the house, I picked up and moved an object or two, I sat down, I stood up, I did 8 push-ups, I turned on the TV, I turned it off, I listened to 2 1/2 minutes of a song, I turned it off.
Finally, I stood in the doorway and looked down at the ground. Seven years ago, I thought, seven years ago this behavior would have culminated into me having a drink, me writing a bunch of nonsensical lament in my notebook, crying, then falling asleep fully clothed with streaks of mascara running down my face.
I was 20 then. I was in a new city. I knew no one. I worked 24/7. I felt utterly and completely alone. I was bored. I paced the house. I overthought. I discovered that I had insecurities. I had my heart broken by adults. I realized that not everyone was good. I drank for these truths and I cried for these truths.
Now… now I don’t do any of that.
One day, I stopped feeling alone. Insecurities began peeling away and I started playing the game. The curve balls hurt a little less all the while my skin grew thicker and thicker.
I could sit alone and feel completely ok with myself.
My rite of passage came and I stopped being the insecure twenty-something who wanted to take everyone down with her.
I grew up.
Now my life is quite simply normal.
… and it’s boring as all hell.
A few nights back, while having drinks with an acquaintance, I tried explaining how I sort of missed the days of emotional extremes and bad decisions. “Be careful what you wish for,” he said. I knew he was right. I began shaking my head ‘no’ even before the words left my lips.
I don’t want to return to that girl.
I didn’t like her and she definitely didn’t like herself.
The girl that dated certain men and deluded herself into thinking it was love. Now, now I know it isn’t love, so I wait for the real thing.
It’s been kind of quiet.
The girl that sat like a rag doll in front of the mirror, taking snap shots of her drunken droopy face as a reminder of how low she felt at that precise moment.
Now I barely drink- alone or socially.
The girl full of words like ‘why?’ and ‘sorry’ and ‘can’t’ and ‘no’ when it should have been ‘yes’ and ‘yes’ when it should have been ‘no’.
Now I’m filled with the understanding and confidence of the decisions I make.
So why do I miss her? Why do I miss those confounded days?
Because it was the beginning.
It was what I was supposed to be feeling.
It gave me something to write about.
All the questioning and scouring and longing made me feel something.
All the bad decisions taught me and all the searching brought me to…here.
The place that I am currently bemoaning.
The place I longed to be seven years ago.
The place I’m supposed to be.
Do you miss the days of twenty-something melancholy?
Honestly, that's one of the most beautiful things I've ever read. I'm 20 this year (and scared shitless)
reading that kind of makes ne feel like everything will be okay.
It's quite amazing how someone far away that I've never met can write something that finds a place in me.
Thank you. x
@Star- Awww, Star! I'm so happy you liked it. Your words made my eyes well up. It definitely will be all ok. Sometimes it might not feel like it, but it definitely gets better. I like who I am at 27 so much more than who I was at 21 or 23. I guess I miss the days of naivete at that age, but I'm much more realistic now and less likely to get hurt by my naivete.
This hit home for me, as well. I'm 23, not working, but trying desperately to start my career because it's what I "should" do. Simply "being" is one of the hardest challenges, but it's where lessons are seriously learned, I suppose. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!
ahhh "those days". Believing you know whats best. Blowing your savings on things that may or may not be legal. Believing you have an everlasting relationship. Living in that shitty studio apt.
@ 28 I know better now (code for boring & responsible), but then, you know no different. Your none the wiser. Sometimes ignorance is bliss & sometimes I miss it too!
Nooooo! I don't miss them at all. I did a lot of foolish things back then because I was confused and still figuring myself out. I like where I am now, and feel like even in a few years I've become more grown up.
If I ever feel like reminiscing about that period (because my sadness and confusion was an excellent source for poetry and writing) I'll put some Elliott Smith on and light a candle, a sort of memorial for the girl I used to be.
I went through the same feeling the other day.
I was looking at my reflection while sitting in my studio. "Who is this square?" went through my head.
I missed the days of drinking my tongue black and flipping off the world.
It's so easy to romanticize that shi~ once you made it through. I'm glad it was a passing feeling.
Great post 🙂
Never escaped them. How did you escape it? By making bad decisions? Cause I've done plenty of that and still, nada.
@Marisa- Post-college career searching can be difficult. I was offered a job at 20 so I though I escaped that…but, no. Around 25, I decided I hated my career and started back at zero. It was frightening and the fear overshadowed the excitement of a new beginning. Simply being is VERY hard.
@Lavina- Ha. Yep! Exactly! The days of naivete…
@Tsaritsa- Love it! Mine was a lot of shoegazy music.
@Deafwish- You're exactly right! It's easy to romanticize AFTER the fact. If I really sat down and drummed up the feelings I had back then, then I'll be shutting the f up.
@Scribbler- First, how old are you?
oh gaaaaaaaad, i don't miss them at all. i was a royal f*ck up. half of it was deliberate because I knew i'd never have the opportunity again to behave soooooo badly. i was definitely insecure- the 20s are a huge time of learning and transition. I prefer my 30s much more. It feels like I'm wiser; I'm probably not though, I'm probably just more smug. Well written piece lady!
A few months ago I went to see Weezer play Pinkerton. I felt both nervous that i would be disappointed and excited to relive the days that you talk about here, when I was 18 and sobbing at the kitchen table with headphones on thinking that I knew exactly what "Butterfly" was about and no one else did.
But when I was at the show, I was exhilarated to hear the songs, but I felt… almost NOTHING. Even when Rivers pulled out the acoustic and sang Butterfly alone, I felt like I was looking at a photocopy of my old self– the shapes were there and I recognized them, but all the saturation was gone. As I was leaving I said to myself– "wow, I never thought a day would come when I didn't have those extreme feelings." I felt totally disappointed, but also a sense of relief, that those extremes that once controlled my life are so beyond my brain now. The fear and the pain are no longer there, but neither is the lush sense of possibility and intrigue. I see it and hear it in younger people today, and feel detached, sympathetic, and slightly envious.
Kinda bittersweet moments. Ways to sort out a few things, ways to learn to stop making the same mistakes over & over & to roar out & risk making some new ones while moving forward until the lights go out…
Geesh, I need to stop writing right now before I slide into that dreaded Dr. Phil territory.
I remember two specific early twenties breakups. The first left me in a bathtub with a bottle of vodka until I forced myself to vomit down the side in fear of drowning. The second put me in front of a mirror as I actually watched myself cry. I was unable to move then.
I much prefer 29.
@Hipstercrite- I'm 4 months from 30. Thanks for reminding me. *puke, puke, puke*. I think I'm addicted to 20 something bad decisions and melancholy. Actually I think I never escaped teen recklessness and existential angst. My latest great idea was to drop everything and grow medicine in the forest. DID NOT work out as planned!!!!! On the brightside I'm looking forward to my days of 30 something melancholy. Actually no, I just wanted to try to end on a positive note and failed at that too.
Beautiful! As I finsh the last days of my 20's, I am reflecting like crazy over everything that did and didn't happen to me over the last 10 years. Greatful for being the girl I was, but happy that I am her no longer. Bravo!
Ahh, this reminded me of one of my favorite lines from SWINGERS. When Ron Livingston says something like, "And then you wake up one day, and it doesn't hurt at all… and the funny thing is, you miss the pain. Because you lived with it for so long." It's so true.
On the subject of early 20s pain in particular… I feel like it takes some of us super long. I've had periods where old, old stuff has resurfaced, which sometimes makes me feel like I'm 20 again… but then, when I remember what it was really like to be 20, and I'm blown away by how much better things are now. And sometimes, when I read my old journals or xanga, yeah… I miss it.
I think I've got a good way to describe this type of "missing." It's "saudade," which is a Portuguese variety of missing. It's pretty cool. It's not a verb- you say, "I have saudade for [insert object]." And the thing about saudade is, you can have saudade for something without actually wanting it back.
Kinda blows my mind. 🙂 And I feel like it's pretty much what we're talking about?
@teenysparkles- Everyone says your 30's are so much better! I hope so, though the idea of turning 30 in 3 years scares the crap out of me! 🙁
@Em G- Damn girl. I'll already wrote you on FB that's how much I loved your comment.
@Scott- Don't stop! Dr. Phil makes a lot of money!
@Tunatalk- Ha! Have you written about these break-ups?
@Scribbler- Everyone seems to say that your 30's are magical, so I wouldn't give up hope on them being great just yet…
@Sadie- You summed it up perfectly!
@Benny- You know what? I lived in LA for 5 years and STILL never saw that movie. It is so quotable and perfect for 20-somethings. Guess it's time to see it, huh? Thanks for reminding me!
em g said "The fear and the pain are no longer there, but neither is the lush sense of possibility and intrigue."
I'm actually 34, will be 35! (when did that happen, seriously?) in a few months, and I just wanted to let all you 20-somethings know it IS possible to lose the pain and the fear while still keeping that 'lush sense of possibility and intrigue.' I think a lot of people don't *lose* the fear, but internalize and redirect it. Instead of being alone, it becomes keeping the job, home, car, spouse, status quo, and people get lost in simply surviving. There's a reason you get scared – you don't want to be alone or miserable, of course, but what you really don't want is to lose your joy and excitement for living.
I see so many of my classmates have 'settled down' – and that's an apt description for it. They've traded dreams for stability. It's not that I've decided to stay immature or not deal with life. I just decided not to let it beat me down and find some joy and excitement in the world around me.
On the other hand, having dated an early 20-something recently, I've been reminded that you can be brilliant, incredibly mature every so often, but you still have a whole world to explore and it's a dizzying prospect. Everything seems so much more vivid. Everything's spun out of control. And maybe you kinda like that, for now.
And believe me, HC, your 30s will be so incredibly awesome if you want them to be.
i think everyone can relate! im only 21 but i feel like i am boring and almost numb compared to my teenage years. back then taking back sunday was the perfect cure for a broken heart. thanks for your insight!
also im curious, where do you find inspiration for your blog? i have trouble coming up with stuff!
@Maude- that's one of the best avatars I've ever seen
@Hipstercrite- Oh man… Swingers is a good movie, but I too sustained years of hype before finally getting to see it. It's definitely so much better if you put the hype out of mind… or go even farther and pretend that it's 1997 and you're just checking out some small movie you heard about. 🙂
[…] their current Deja Vu issue, my super wistful post “This Must Be The Place” was featured. In the blog post I discuss a frequent theme where I lament the days of being a […]