On Monday, Kelly and I were talking about how crazy it feels that we’ll be turning 23 this year. As she shared with me her “life plan” for the next 7 years of her twenties, I felt this bubble of panic rise in my chest. Before I turned 20 I was so excited for adulthood. I imagined where I’d be living, what work I’d be doing, what kind of fun things I’d get up to. Suddenly I’d be wise and successful. Everything I touched would turn to gold. And while many of my teenage dreams have been realized (college degree, boyfriend, Berkeley living), I don’t feel that balance or togetherness that I also imagined would accompany twentydom. In some ways, I feel much more confused now than I ever did when I was 17. Because now I’m not naive enough to think that by 26 I’ll have it figured out. Or that when I reach my 30s I’ll achieve that zen-like balance that I thought was part-and-parcel of growing up. Blerg-pants.
Today, my good friend Meghan shared this beautiful quote on her blog and the sentiment really resonated with me.
Sometimes you’re 23 and standing in the kitchen of your house making breakfast and brewing coffee and listening to music that for some reason is really getting to your heart. You’re just standing there thinking about going to work and picking up your dry cleaning. And also more exciting things like books you’re reading and trips you plan on taking and relationships that are springing into existence. Or fading from your memory, which is far less exciting. And suddenly you just don’t feel at home in your skin or in your house and you just want home but “Mom’s” probably wouldn’t feel like home anymore either. There used to be the comfort of a number in your phone and ears that listened everyday and arms that were never for anyone else. But just to calm you down when you started feeling trapped in a five-minute period where nostalgia is too much and thoughts of this person you are feel foreign. When you realize that you’ll never be this young again but this is the first time you’ve ever been this old. When you can’t remember how you got from sixteen to here and all the same feel like sixteen is just as much of a stranger to you now. The song is over. The coffee’s done. You’re going to breathe in and out. You’re going to be fine in about five minutes.
As Ingrid says, all we can do is keep breathing. In fact, let’s listen to her and cry/breathe a while together.
Top image via Claire Cottrell