Best by 12/13/14

It’s a little refreshing to hear a 20 year old’s struggle to find his way in the world. By that, I don’t mean financially struggling or anything, but just chosing a future and planning what he wants to do with his life. At 20, I was having the same dilemma. I had changed majors in college from Psycology, to Art, to Computer Science and back to Art. If I had just stuck with one of those, I’d be entering my senior year, but I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. My entire experience of the world was within a classroom. I took a couple years off, but I never really found out what I wanted to do, I just found out what I didn’t want to do. I certainly didn’t want to wash dishes or load up trucks with gravel and manure for the rest of my life. I decided at least having a degree was better than nothing, whether I ended up using it or not.
At our friends’ holiday party this year, one of the newer members of our group plopped down at the table having his existential crisis. Struggling with religion, how a person could have morals if not for religion, why all the early cultures had some sort of religion, what he’s meant to do with his life, and whether he’ll find out later and have to say goodbye to the life he knows now.
I usually leave the party around midnight, but my boyfriend and I stayed until 3. We sat around the table, with a couple other 30+ year olds, listening to this guy falling apart. All at the same time we felt old, but glad for it. Nothing can make you glad to be in your 30s like someone coming into their 20s with such urgent questions. We’ve been there, and understand that questions like that don’t have a set deadline, despite his insisting that he’s supposed to know who he is before he’s 25. He also worries that not knowing who he is yet means his relationship with the love of his life is doomed. That if he changes, they can’t be together anymore.
Let me just put my foot down now and say that these thoughts are unrealistic. They try to take an entire lifetime into consideration, but use only the present reality as an immutable standard. They don’t allow for the world to change, or the people in it to change. They don’t allow for anything new, but there are new things being invented and discovered all the time. It’s like I tell people when they struggle to find a hobby they enjoy: Not everything that will become your passion in life has been invented yet. He thinks he must make up his mind forever based only on the reality of his world right now. For those of you in love, did you always know your significant other? Do you remember a time before they were part of your reality? Think of them, for a moment, the way you would think of your “path” or your place in the world. Before you met them, did you feel the pressure to choose from only the people you already knew as if not chosing by a certain age meant you had failed at life? Maybe you held out until something felt right, maybe you played around with a few that you didn’t know with certainty would work out. Maybe people told you it was time to settle down, but you knew deep down that you hadn’t met that person yet. There is no deadline to figuring out who you are. When it’s time, it’s time, but you have to give the world some credit for changing around you all the while.

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