The Wandering Twenties – A Few Thoughts on Feeling Lost

Lately, I find myself spending a lot of time trying to figure out what I’m doing. In our age, it’s the common struggle of twentysomethings; all the uncertainty, bumbling around for years, worrying about careers and the future, but meeting it with a special kind of indecision that ends up being the equivalent of that really out of shape dude struggling to walk the treadmill right after New Years.

At 26, I feel like I’m beyond most of the general struggle as far as my peers go. I’m not stuck waiting tables or shriveling up in misery each day at some dead end job that I can’t get out of. I’ve got a good job. I don’t see myself needing to find something more  substantial in my foreseeable future. More key, I’ve got a general career path etched out. I’ve got goals, ambition, and all that stuff, but I also have an idea of how I’m going to get there; a rough map, and I feel well-equipped enough to have no problem maneuvering myself in the direction I want.

And that really handles the biggest thing I tend to see as far as those around me come. In fact, it almost feels like my friends my age are almost exclusively in two classes. Married, on average, now with a kid or kid on the way, and projecting the sense that they have their life ‘together’ because they have no choice but to, or the others. Those of us who aren’t married, ranging from single with no idea when or how anything substantial is going to surface as far as companionship goes, all the way to the ones in long-time relationships, where you have no idea what they’re doing or thinking because they don’t, they just are in it because they always have been. And that class commonly projects all the uncertainty, all the wavering.

I think the emphasis from that last paragraph should be perception. One class is able to put off the perception of being gathered, and the other doesn’t have to, thus usually does not.

Either way, I find, that as gold-card member of that second class, that the more I seem to get it together, the more clueless and lost I feel. I spent a huge portion of my lifetime always feeling well-directed, always knowing where my life was heading, even captaining the ship at times. After I was a quarter through my twenties, I kind of made a conscious decision to abandon that and adopt some uncertainty.

I needed to. Right, wrong, or outlandish, my thinking was I couldn’t just go my entire life thinking with such certainty, because at some point a wave of crisis would hit and it’s better to be familiar with it before I’m in too deep. The problem is that it is much like going undercover. You don’t know how deep you’re going to end up, the crazy, traumatizing stuff you’re going to have to do, or any clue when there is an end in sight. You just go in, and trust that, like all things, you will be pulled out of it at some point and resume life as you once knew it.

Deeper and deeper I go.

So to circle back, I’m really feeling completely aimless lately. I know what I’m working for, how I need to work for it, but I don’t know why any of the things I do are contributing to the endgame.

I go to work every day. I do all I can to be the best at my job.

I learn everyday. I try to do more than just what is expected of me from my employer. I’m always finding myself taking on side projects and doing work for others, and then when I have slivers of time from that, I do the stuff for myself; that I actually want to do. Right now I’ve added learning how to code with a list that already grows and usurps everything else like a jungle. But I try to keep doing it; keep doing more.

 

I go to the gym. I work on every little thing for hours at a time. I know that it is a luxury of time and freedom I have right now that many do not. So I get in great shape. I look and feel good.

 

I hangout with a myriad of friends. I even get called a socialite somehow, which I don’t think is true, at all, but that’s how I’m perceived. So I socialite it up. I only have about one day a week I spend to myself.

I go out. I try to meet new people (I’m bad at it, or come off as bad at it because I’m really slow with it). I do things. I try to have fun. I usually do.

I do all these things, then at the end of the day, I go home by myself. I go to sleep by myself. I wake up by myself. And I start the entire cycle over again, all by myself.

It’s not a traditional kind of loneliness, because I don’t do most things by myself, but in most ways, I’m not sharing much of anything. I am not sharing my life with anyone.

I think that is where I get lost at. Every little thing lately seems to remind me of that fact. Sure, I always have a social function to go to, and I am with people then; sharing then, but I show up alone. I leave alone. I’m not even at the point where I can find someone to come to a wedding with me. Or to go to a friend’s party.

The point I’m getting at is that I do all of these things, and I do them in isolation. And since I’m doing them in isolation, it is almost like I’m the only one actually doing these things. All of these things I do, I am convinced that they are edifying and that I am getting growth through them, but I’m obscured in this bubble.

Then I become self-aware and doubt everything in the bubble. Why are these things helping me get past this stage of life? How is my fitness or developing skill set helping me get to the next major development in my life?

The answer: it isn’t.

I do all these things, but I don’t do them because they directly help me advance to ‘the next stage’, I do them so that when there is a notable change, in any area of my life, that I am a different, better person than I was when I was in the former stage.

It’s a really weird concept, this whole idea of personal value. It might even be frivolous, but I have to do something with my time. Don’t I?

Even so, I still end up tangled up enough to feel lost, even though I could take a personal audit of my life and score as someone who ‘really has it together’. Despite that, I lost count how many times I’m slogging away to the next daily, pointless thing I do, asking myself:

What the hell am I doing?

And these are just your average problems that blanket everything else.

The Shame About Respect

It’s a shame we live in a world where restraint, respect, and consideration are viewed more as disinterest, lack of confidence, or unattractive behavior as opposed to coming on to women with half-assed sweet talk and unveiled attempts of puffery to appeal to ones self-image; because I don’t use some cute way to tell you that I think you’re sexy or beautiful, doesn’t mean that my reverence of that fact preventing me from buzzing about your ear like some mosquito is disinterest– instead, it is probably the highest honor I can give.

Smiling Practice

This morning, I made it my personal goal to hold a good, genuine smile during my drive to and from work. I did OK on the first leg, and we’ll see how the second leg goes, but besides being a mood augmenter, the personal challenge is eye-opening to a lot of things.

While the more I’ve learned about people, the more I’ve come to understand how strange each single person is, it still doesn’t exclude the fact that I’m a strange person. A few months ago I started practicing smiling. In fact, there are a lot of really subtle things that I go through phases of training and practice with. Smiling just happened to be the one that popped into my mind a few months ago.

One of the things I’d do during this phase was try to hold a smile the entire time I drove anywhere. Partially because of easy mirror access to judge how well I was holding up, and the other part because if you’ve ever driven a car, then you know how hard it is to stay happy for long.

The thing about smiling is that it seeps into your mood. If you’re smiling, and by that I mean replicating a genuine looking smile, then eventually the line will cross from just forcing that smile to actually smiling, and because pleasantness and happy emotions are so strongly bonded with that facial expression, that smile gets you feeling better; feeling good.

Life’s been pretty great lately, but I still have found my mood wanting to fluctuate, and I admit, I have a few things that my emotions are trying to hang on to against my will that I currently have no reason to be holding on to. Sometimes I feel like I’m too much of a loner. I make it work, and I can surround myself by people, but you can always be around people and still be a loner. An example like this is just one element. Elements. Just enough small elements to pull my average mood down to a slightly less vibrant coefficient than what that factor was sitting at a couple months back.

My drive in to work got me realizing two major things: first, that I was generally feeling happier and in a more consistently in a buoyant mood back when I was actively practicing smiling. I don’t think that this is a spurious correlation by any means, and maybe I can be proven wrong, but I firmly believe that the more you smile, that more you’ll feel happy (even if you’re not, holistically). It’s a chicken and the egg kind of situation at times, but if I want to feed myself, I’m going to stock up on as many chickens and eggs as I can. Why be exclusive?

Second, and less encouraging, is it makes me realize how much pettiness we have in the things we get upset about. Before you read this and fuss at me — hey, jerk, don’t lump me in with you, I don’t get upset at stupid things! 

Bull.

I always pride myself as someone who is laid back and able to take almost everything in stride. HA! How silly. Even though I don’t let annoyance visibly mount, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there often, and even worse, when I look back at all the things I got frustrated by in the past couple weeks, almost all of it is is so stupid. You know those bags of chips you get sometimes that are, like, 1/4 full? Well, it is like the reasons I get get upset are produced in a factory that follow Six Sigma standards, except if reasons I get upset were like a bag of chips, my personal factory produces those defective back of chips 99.99966% of the time, and a legit reason the other 3.4 million times. What a rip off.

So there I am, driving, bright expression on my face, happy because I woke up early and it is a beautiful day in a beautiful world, but every 2 minutes, a miniature, invisible Spider-Man attaches two webs to the corners of my mouth and yanks down.

🙂    —->   : |

“HEY, PERSON IN THAT HYUNDAI, IF YOU’RE GOING TO DRIVE 2 UNDER, GET THE HELL OUT OF THE LEFT LANE.,” the thought courses through my mind. Then I parse it, and force the muscles in my face, and with more strain, the little urges of mood flitting around inside me to prop back up.

^ _ ^’  ….

Back to full power

Don't Worry, Be Happy

 

 

Not even a minute passes.

“Oh, hey there person in the lane to my right. Oh, you want to speed up? Ok, I’m slowing down. Wait, why are you slowing down now? Stop that, you trickster. Hey. HEY! I NEED TO GET OVER. HEY, TRY THIS COOL MAGIC TRICK: PUT YOUR CAR KEYS IN YOUR MOUTH THEN SWALLOW! BASTARD.”

Seriously?

 

 

And then I want to break.

And sometimes I dip down a little bit lower than I should.

No way..

 

 

Then the safety net embraces me as I catch myself. Why you heff to be mad? So worked up, and over something so small, so inconsequential that the other people involved will never realize that they did anything to upset anyone (though some of these people really do need to learn how to drive, but that’s beside the point).

All these thoughts want to dent my ornate set of armor.

This person never talks to me unless I contact them first. Do they even like me?

Why do these people aaaaaalllways misunderstand me?

How is she going to trust HIM over me?! So stupid.

GAAAAAAAH, someone teach this person how to put what they’re going to say all in one text instead of carpet bombing my phone.

Why does this dude insist on calling me when he knows that I can’t answer right now?

These passing thoughts continue, and they riddle and splatter into everything like raindrops in a thunderstorm. Then you look up and realize your umbrella is terrible.

RIP Umbrella
RIP Umbrella

 

So that’s that.

My personal goal this morning was to hold a good, genuine smile during my trip to and from work, but now my goal is to smile every day when I drive to and from work.

Give it a shot.

I don’t know what can be done about the things that upset us— the things that upset me, but I at least know that if I can turn the volume on Channel Feel Good, that it will start to cancel out the profanities and infrasound coming from The Downer Network.

So..

:)

 

 

Hoarding

I want an endless collection of mason jars. I want to be a hoarder. I want to store all of my dreams in them, and put them on shelves all over the walls. I’ll light the halls of my house with the faint glow of each of my dreams. I’ll call myself a collector. When I have friends over, I can lean in and ask them; do you want to see something cool? Then I’ll show them that dream I had in first grade with the giant black and purple vortex in the sky.

I want to arrange them by how they affected me. I’ll put all the bad, realistic ones in the closets and in the crawl space. Nobody wants to see those, or remember them, but if you’re trying to hold on to all of your dreams, then you can’t throw anything out. All the most nonsensical and bizarre dreams can replace the magazine rack in the bathroom.

All of the dreams that made me feel weird and hopeless after I woke up, I’ll cover with curtains, and all the fantastic dreams that made me sad to return back to consciousness, I’ll line the boundaries of my bedroom with. The dreams I’m most moved by will be the first thing you see when you enter my home.

Certain dreams of sentimental value, I’ll share with people I know as a special gift, and hope that Wonder laminates their mind as they did mine. And anytime any of us aspires to adventure away from any of our lives– we can stare into the jar for a spell and revisit somewhere distant, somewhere secret, somewhere hidden, and somewhere beyond this universe.

Once you forget a dream, it is lost forever, so I’ll store all of my dreams in glass jars, so that I can always revisit them, and never forget any of them. I’ll dream away until there is no room in my home for anything but dreams.