The Late-Twenties Social Link

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.

Self-improvement.

 

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.

Eureka!

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.

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8 responses to “The Late-Twenties Social Link

  1. Hey Sarah,

    I’m glad you came to that conclusion…

    From my limited experience, I think we all (Sane & nuts) stumble into each life phase, & even though our parents & ancestors have been there & done it, its not something that can be passed on knowledge wise.

    I’m similar to you, in that a lot of my friends have the ‘careers and husbands and babies and real estate’ thing going on. Some of it I want & some I don’t.

    My main focus now is just being happy really. Hmmm you think I should be a hippy? 🙂

    • Sarah @ bi[polar] curious

      Haha, I told a bunch of my friends on Sunday I would have made a darn good hippy, and it makes me sad I wasn’t born in a time period I could carry that out as much as I would have liked to!

      Nothing wrong with that, I think people can be happy with just about anything… they just usually choose not to be. Personally I believe that most Americans are taught at a very early age not to be content, so I’m glad your focus is on being happy!

  2. Although I do have a husband and I do have children, I can actually sympathize with you here. I had my first child when I was 18 and was married by the time I was 21. All my friends were college students, were partying, we had nothing left in common anymore. I’m happy you were able to restore your friendships. Unfortunately mine did not end up that way and I ended up in isolation for a very long time. It’s just now that I’m trying to reach out and form some new friendships! I’m glad you blogged about this!

    • Sarah @ bi[polar] curious

      I’m glad you’re reaching out, and you are absolutely right -there are a ton of things that can make us feel estranged from our age group, and though what you’re describing as your experience is something that is extremely common where I’m from, there are definitely places where it isn’t the norm.

      Thanks!

  3. I am so glad you brought this up. This place that we live in, late twenties, through mid thirties, seems to be a huge gap that is missing in the development of adult life. It is somewhere between the quarterlife crisis and the midlife crisis. Kind of like a no man’s land, where there isn’t exactly a standard of living.

    Now, I’ll tell you this. I am married. I do have a son. I plan on having another child. I have a house, a car, a career path, and everything that one is supposed to have and do in this place. And even so, I still don’t feel as if I measure up on the yard stick. Because, I think the yard stick has changed so greatly in what it measures.

    It’s convenient that you brought this up at this particular time. Because, the big question is – if I have everything that satisfies this requirement in this time period, where do I go from here?

    I guess I did the quarterlife a little early, because that was all resolved by the time I was 25. I finished my first portion of college in my early twenties, and decided that I hated what I majored in. I married before 25, and had a child before 25. And my education and career path were resolved, prior to 25.

    According to all of the literature on the quarterlife crisis, it can still remain present until 30ish. But, I am not putting that assertion here. I am only accenting this limbo that I find myself in. With the overwhelming number of choices as to lifestyle and occupation out there, am I happy with the status quo?

    Anyhow, you said, “an people like me (with, we’ll say, mental irregularities) connect -truly connect, with those who have not experienced such phenomenon? I’ll provide you with an honest opinion, although I’m not sure it will satisfy. In terms of connecting with friends that have chosen different lifestyles, it bears little weight. I have many friends (via Facebook), that complain of the inability to connect with others. I am very sure that many of these friends do not carry a mental health Dx.

    No, the problem begins with social media itself. Why bother to pick up the phone and have a conversation with someone, or even make plans to see one another? It’s all there in statuses and pictures. But, there is a huge problem. Most things said in statuses and shown in pictures aren’t the complete reality of that person’s life. If someone would bother to take the time to forge a real connection with them, one on one, they would come to see that.

    Now, I’ll move toward the central question. I have found that it is difficult, even with the “typical” lifestyle that I lead, to have real connections. It’s not entirely in so much that we cannot come to understand one another. No, I have a few friends that have a great deal of empathy for my situation, and with some deeper thought that most are willing to use, provide me with insights from their own lives and the lives of others. That’s only a few. At this present moment, the only people involved in my life with a MH Dx are family.

    The problem lies in how others outside of a Dx treat it. I have one friend who is an alarmist. I have another who kind of rolls his eyes, as if to say, “Here we go again.” I am not entirely offended. I realize that if it’s difficult for me, it must be difficult for others. And the biggest problem lies in the amount of time and effort a person wants to invest in another. I require time, effort, understanding, and patience, probably more than most people can give.

    Why can’t they give it? Because, they are busy living their own lives, and would rather not get entangled in mine. That’s what I’ve found.

    I agree that I have a number of friends that are on the quest for self-improvement. Unfortunately, too many of them take the “self” part in that as in this should be a solitary activity. That’s the biggest problem of all. Solitary activities and a farce to walk around in. Self-improvement is the admission that there is something that doesn’t measure up. For some.

    I’m glad you found that connection back into your social group. Keep me posted on how that goes. I’d love to just get some data on how the social life of the late twenties functions.

    • Sarah @ bi[polar] curious

      I’ve been planning on writing about the social media aspect of… well, life, for a while now but every time I begin I just start to feel physically ill. I’m not quite in the right mood to tackle it right now, but sometime in the future, hopefully.

      I guess I am pretty lucky in that my friends have all taken these self-improvement paths that I can join in on periodically. Maybe we can read and discuss the same book, or do yoga together from time to time, or learn to cook something new together. They all seem to have relatively stable jobs and lives, so when I feel up to it I can join in. Just because I am working on improving my mind with, say, therapy, doesn’t mean I am not interested in improving my mind with a book, or improving my self esteem and physical presence by going to the gym, or improving my cooking skills.

      Anyway, thanks for your response! I hope you can find a fun self-improvement activity to share with your friends!

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