I’ve reached a rather interesting point in my life where myself and my friends are done with college (for the majority) and many of us have a couple years of work under our belts. Then, the monotony has set in.
That quarter-life crisis so many people warned me about came and went, and while they all pondered how to keep themselves from going crazy in this new, monotonous, adult life I pondered how to manage that same crazy I’ve been facing for the last 10 years.
Suddenly the yardstick we were faced with having to use to measure our lives was comprised of careers and husbands and babies and real estate.
This notion makes me ever so slightly uncomfortable as I have none of those things, and as none of them are really on my radar (or on deck to happen any time soon) I found myself feeling, once again, like an outsider unable to really relate.
After all, in the past I’ve done a really good job of being a hoodlum, and I was also quite good at being student, college and otherwise. Unfortunately, that time has apparently passed, and has been replaced with a new, sort of domesticated reality.
I struggled quite a lot trying to find where I can relate to this new place many of my friends seem to be living. My friends had weddings, I had a mental breakdown. My friends had jobs and income and traveled, I was unemployed and slept for a week in a field in Montana where I was met with a (literal) flash flood.
I am not looking for pity here, on the contrary. I highly value the life I have, and the things that many of my friends have I don’t feel inclined to get for myself. I’ve always been different, and that route is so expected at our age that I really doubt I could ever get my square peg of a brain to fit in that round hole.
What I am trying to do is paint a picture. I am living an opposite life from many of the people who have been closest to me, so to me it seems only natural that I feel somewhat estranged from them.
Do we have anything in common anymore?
Is there anything we can actively talk about, aside from gossip?
Last fall I also began something of a quest for self-improvement, primarily in the realm of mental illness. Intense therapy. Taking on the medication search (again). Writing a blog. Anything I could think of to get a better grip on who I am, what I experience, and how I can tweak it to be more stable.
The whole thing has been extreme, to say the least, and I have certainly learned a lot, but I would almost say it distanced me more from many of those friends I’d began to be closed off from by this new, iron curtain of adult life.
Meanwhile, this ball of thought has been growing… can people like me (with, we’ll say, mental irregularities) connect –truly connect, with those who have not experienced such phenomenon?
The deeper I sunk into the mental self-improvement quicksand the more I began to be convinced that connection couldn’t happen. The more I became connected to the mental health community, the further I was from interactions with the general sane population. I didn’t know how to work my conversations backwards, I didn’t know how to take the depth out of it!
(That’s a slight lie, I don’t talk like this all the time, sometimes I have the overwhelming urge to talk in all puns… so that’s exciting for people on the receiving end (like my boyfriend), I’m sure.)
So all of this was going down, it was piling up on top of me -birthing a new type of anxiety I had never felt before, of course, and I wasn’t sure what to do.
I was right on the verge of moving on, (whatever that means, socially I suppose) but I was out to dinner with one of my friends to see if I could get any lightning-bolt sorts of signs from the universe to confirm that connection was still possible.
The food was good… which is kind of like a sign, I mean the food has been questionable the last few times we’d been out so it felt a little bit like a sign (even if it probably wasn’t).
The bathroom at the restaurant was cool, which was also almost a sign… because we both love awesome restaurant bathrooms.
But then something happened which I absolutely didn’t expect, she told me she was trying to find ways to improve herself and her life.
HOLD THE PHONE. Generally-sane people do that too?
After that I called practically everyone I knew, every friend I have in my age range, and each admitted that they were taking some kind of step to improve their lives.
My connection to the rest of my age group has been restored, it just took me a while to find our common ground. Nobody told me the way these phases of life work, I just blindly stumble into them -and sometimes it takes a while for me to realize I should look around to see if anyone else stumbled to the same place.
It doesn’t help that I have been really naive about this self-improvement concept. I feel like I have plenty to improve, but it never occurred to me that my sane, “normal” friends would feel the need to improve their lives. To me, most of them seem to have such a good thing going I never expected the need for improvement to be an issue for a lot of them.
But, I suppose life could always be better or easier or more stable. Reaching a point where we are happy with ourselves and our lives is part of the point of life, isn’t it? Or one of the points?
In any case, I find it absolutely brilliant that the very activity I thought was keeping me outside the box is something that everyone inside the box is doing anyway. Every so often I need a reminder that thinking us and them, or me vs. the world is small time. We’re all just human beings.