Sunday, December 20, 2009
Now, rewind a little bit to age 11. In an especially angsty diary entry in which I was ruminating on how mean and awful my big sister was and how unfair everything in my life was, I solidified my plans for the future. My life goal, I wrote, was to live in an apartment in San Francisco, watch as much MTV as I wanted, have cats, be a newspaper reporter, and play sports with the neighborhood kids in my spare time. Weirdly enough, I have no recollection of thinking that while growing up, but here I am...living in an apartment in San Francisco, watching all the MTV I could ever want. My roommate has a cat. I'm not a newspaper reporter, I don't really like sports and not many people trust me with their kids, but three out of five is still pretty great.
So you are probably wondering what it is like to have realized your childhood dreams before age 25. Again...it isn't quite as I imagined it would be. I am happy, but not because I have unlimited access to True Life and Cribs. All of the things that I wanted as a child, from the car to the boyfriend to the apartment have their downsides. Gas is $3.00 per gallon. My rent is tantamount to extortion. And boys...lets not even go there. The cat is the only thing that I'm still as thrilled about now as I was back then. My point is that no matter what we achieve in life, we will never be completely satisfied. It's human nature.
Still, many of us, especially those of us in our twenties, seem to think that happiness is something that we earn, something that is just out of reach. Every promotion, pound lost, relationship milestone, whatever it is, brings us one step closer to eternal bliss. We deserve it, we are putting in our time, surely we will be rewarded sooner or later. But what if we aren't? What if life doesn't work like that?
I read an article a while back titled “Welcome to Your Quarter Life Crisis”. Writer Kate Carraway asserts that persistent dissatisfaction is unique to our generation: “Unrelenting indecision, isolation, confusion and anxiety about working, relationships and direction is reported by people in their mid-twenties to early thirties who are usually urban, middle class and well-educated; those who should be able to capitalize on their youth, unparalleled freedom and free-for-all individuation. They can’t make any decisions, because they don’t know what they want, and they don’t know what they want because they don’t know who they are, and they don’t know who they are because they’re allowed to be anyone they want.”
When I read that, I was SO relieved. There is a reason why we can never be totally satisfied, and it's our parents' fault for encouraging us to be whatever we wanted! My generation has it so rough because we have too many options! Poor us! Then I read that quote to my aunt, one of the wisest women I know, and she laughed and told me that everyone feels like that in their twenties, and it isn't specific to any one generation. So much for the “Quarter Life Crisis”...
I still think that the feelings described in the article are legitimate though. And I think the problem is that we are constantly looking outside of ourselves for happiness. Face it, the world is a cruel place. The only person you can truly depend on is yourself—everyone else is too unpredictable. This doesn't have to be a bad thing though—it just means finding out how to be happy without outside validation. I'm not certified to be giving psychological advice (I know, shocking) but in my experience, this is key.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
As I write this, I have a splitting headache. I'm tired, my body aches, and I'm attempting to suppress menacing waves of nausea. No, I don't have H1N1...yes I'm hung over. Last night, I tried my best to create a “smoky eye” and manipulate the frizz on top of my head to something resembling a hairstyle. I then left the warmth and safety of my apartment for the dark and rainy streets of San Francisco and paid a cab driver an exorbitant amount of money to take me all the way across town, to meet friends at “the club”.
Oh, the club. Right before I turned off the TV to watch a youtube video on how to create said “smoky eye”, I was watching the hilarious TV show How I Met Your Mother, and this particular episode was about clubs—and how much they suck. Ted (the show's protagonist) is thrilled to finally get in to an exclusive club called“OK”, only to discover that the music is too loud to have an actual conversation with anyone, the drinks are outrageously expensive, and really, it isn't that fun at all. He spends the rest of his night commiserating with the coat check girl. Exasperated, he says to her “These clubs are supposed to be fun, right? Why do I hate them so much?”. She answers, “Because all of the stuff you're supposed to like usually sucks, like these clubs. Or cruises.”
I tried to ignore the irony of seeing that episode right before I embarked on a night of dealing with self-important bouncers and overpriced drinks (seriously—how is a vodka soda $8.00? IN THIS ECONOMY!!!). The truth is, though, the coat check girl was right. Clubs are a scam. I don't fully understand how it took me 24 years to finally realize that, but I've seen the light. And trust me—I have gone to A LOT of clubs. Basically my life ages 18 through 22 was one long episode of Jersey Shore (with slightly better outfits and slightly less sun damage). I even worked in a club during college, as a Hostess.
The problem is that clubs reel you in time and time again with the promise of glamour, excitement, and handsome strangers. You forget that there is nothing glamorous or exciting about spilling your $8.00 drink on yourself when someone shoves past you because it is too crowded to move (fire hazard, anyone?), or waiting twenty minutes in line for the bathroom or the bar. And don't even get me started on the whole “handsome stranger” thing.
Actually, do get me started on it. In college, I had great success meeting men at the club. It was basically like “just add alcohol” and behold, bad decisions were coming out of the woodwork. As much fun as I had with those bad decisions at the time (xoxo boys), its just not the same now. A random guy at a club tugging on my sleeve now induces extreme annoyance rather than romantic intrigue. Its possible that I have raised my standards...I like to think so. I can't say that there are no decent guys to be found at the club, but they will probably be drunk and acting like pricks to impress their friends, so you won't be able to identify them.
Another issue is that as much as I love hanging out with my girls, once we are all liquored up and thrown into a huge crowded club, its hard to keep everyone on the same page. One of us will need to go to the bar, one of us will have to pee, and one of us will want to sit down because she has been dancing in 5 inch heels all night. Since we don't want to split up (and run the risk of losing each other for the night), a lot of time is spent on missions to ensure that everyone's basic needs are met. At a bar, its much easier. You can actually go to the bathroom without five people's permission.
All that being said, it isn't like I will never go to the club again. I'm not really so naïve to think that at age 24 I am mature enough to make a statement like that. I reserve the right to be a hypocrite, so remember that when you see me spilling vodka on myself and talking to a random dude next weekend at the hottest nightclub on the scene.