I am 26 years old. I have a good job at a talent agency, a boyfriend of three years, a rent controlled apartment in Silver Lake, supportive friends and family, and an active social life and yet I wake up every day feeling like something is missing. I feel guilty and somewhat narcissistic about being unhappy. Normally a very happy person, I’ve been feeling restless and moody all of a sudden. I know I should feel lucky for all the things I have, but yet my psychiatrist seems to think that I think I don’t deserve to be happy. I fear that I suffer from Grass Is Always Greener Syndrome. I’m afraid that I’ll never be happy and that scares the hell out of me? Can you please help?
Sad in Silver Lake
First of all, I’d like to say that I’m flattered that you came to me after your psychiatrist didn’t do the trick. Who’s to say that a 24 year-old college drop out with less credentials than a hotline psychic can’t help?
Secondly, I think you read my mind today. Have you ever stopped and thought maybe your life isn’t as perfect as it seems? Do you actually like working at a talent agency? It’s often easy in this town to get swept up into the notion that you’re nothing unless you work someplace glamorous. Does your job actually bring you fulfillment? What about your boyfriend? Are you happy with your boyfriend? Does he treat you well or are you settling? Do you like living in Los Angeles? While we’re at it, do you even like your friends? These are all serious questions you should ask yourself. More often than enough, us twenty-somethings adhere to a lifestyle we think we should have and never really stop to ask if it’s what we want. Just because your life may seem perfect on the surface, doesn’t mean it’s perfect for you.
Just today I was telling my friend….Oh, I smell cookies! No, Laurel, focus. You have to have this column finished for tomorrow’s run.
I can’t stand it anymore. I push my chair away from my computer and pop my head over the cubicle wall.
“Who’s got cookies!?”
“Ssh. Shut up! These are Rob’s surprise party cookies! Don’t you remember?”
I didn’t remember. I vaguely recall giving Amy ten dollars last week but I obviously didn’t question why. When my bank account is fat and happy, I will pass out money without question. I trust that my friends only ask for reasonable hand outs and I’m happy to share the very little wealth when I can. If I’m in the red, then I become a raging cheapskate and try to persuade everyone around me to donate to my cause. I’m not always good at it though. I should take a fundamentals course from my boyfriend. He always manages to leave his wallet at home. I’m still not sure if he’s lying or if he actually doesn’t know where his wallet is most of the time. Last week I found his wallet in the fridge. I left it there to see how long it would take him to realize this. For all I know it’s still there, turning blue-green with everything else. The last time I saw cash in that wallet was when he took me out on my first date and he paid for his half of the meal. I miss those days. Going dutch seems so generous now.
I on the other hand never leave my wallet at home and have difficulty lying. Say I’m at dinner with a friend and the check arrives, I will stall as long as I can to see if my friend reaches for the bill. When a half an hour or more goes by and they still haven’t reached for it, I feel guilty and end up offering to pay for the whole thing. I wonder if my friends know this and they are playing me the entire time I think I’m playing them.
Today I have $12 in my checking account that will need to hold me over for the next week. A flush of panic surges through my body. Maybe I can recoup my ten dollars.
“Is that what I gave you ten dollars for the other day!?” I shout at Amy.
“How expensive are those cookies? Ten dollars times ten people…$100 cookies! What the hell?”
“They’re supposed to be amazing. They’re from that bakery in East Village.”
“Oh! So one of us had to waste time and money just to get over on the east side to pick up friggin’ cookies?!”
“No, they were delivered.”
“Oh! That makes sense.” I start to climb up onto my chair. “Have you not been reading the news about our country’s current financial state? Have you not seen how much gas costs nowadays? Aren’t we supposed to be a progressive paper? Don’t we encourage kids to sell their cars for bicycles, boycott corporate America, and minimize our indulgent ways? This behavior is against everything we represent! I want my ten dollars back!” I put my hand out towards her her.
“You’re broke aren’t you?”
I gradually sit down.
I retract my hand.
“You better give me my ten dollars in cookies, assface.”
Our intern, John, comes running past.
“Quick! Rob is parking. Everyone hide!!!”