The roads of my quarter-life crisis are paved with good intentions. I’m currently writing this while on a bus back from NYC that was supposed to be a part of my responsible, grown-up present to my mom for Mother’s Day. We were going to go see something on Broadway, get a nice dinner, the whole works. However, when my mom had to stay in North Carolina for work, I decided I might as well go up anyway to see some college friends that lived in the city. We weren’t planning on doing anything too crazy, deciding to just have a nice brunch on Saturday at a more well-to-do place in Midtown (mature decision). Four hours later, though, the unlimited mimosas had been thoroughly taken advantage of, and we were all fairly tipsy as we exited the
restaurant, heading straight to a friend’s place for more drinks (immature decision).
It is anecdotes like that that perfectly describe my current mindset and lifestyle. At 24, I know that there is a responsible world out there that I am supposed to ingrain myself in, yet I seem to keep falling just short. I wish I could show you where my tax return money went, but it’s all a blur of nice dinners, new guitar pedals, and a pretty fresh pair of sneakers.
In the past year, I have been promoted from an intern/slave to a full-time employee at a job I love, I have moved off my parent’s couch and into a nice apartment in Woodley Park, and I even sold my childhood car, becoming completely reliant on DC public transit system. All very adult things. However, the fact that I call the mere act of existing in society an “adult thing” should give you some insight into my psyche.
I feel like I am constantly playing dress up in a life that is not my own. Last summer I was hoisting a beerlympics gold medal during a spontaneous trip to Virginia Tech. This summer, I am consulting the excel spreadsheet I call a budget to see if I can even afford going to a music festival in June. The id and ego struggle inside me is continuous and either one can be winning on any given day. I have gone a week where I made myself dinner every night and brought my own lunch every day (high five!), but I have also gone a week where I went out 4 out of 5 weeknights to concerts, exhibits, and happy hours. The good-intentioned roads are nothing if not winding.
What makes this time in one’s life seem so overwhelming is that my peers and I are products of a system that is goal-oriented. Do well in high-school and get into a good college; do well in college and get a good job. Now that I have the good job, my entire goal in life is, essentially, don’t die. Sure, I may get promoted or find better jobs, but my job, in a non-vocational sense, is to exist and survive. When pondering it, it becomes kind of daunting, so I try not to. Instead, I try and, somehow, find a way to encapsulate the person that spends 10 hours a day at work, then goes to the gym, then works on a side business, then runs errands, then does other responsible things, while also being the same person that will rush off to NYC on a whim and have too much champagne with friends.
It is almost as if it is some kind of practical rebelliousness. I will stay at the office until 9pm because I care about my work and want to do a good job, but then come into the office the next day with my lip pierced because, well, why the hell not? My parent’s generation had free love, but my generation learned the hard way that nothing is free, so all forms of expression should be carefully doled out over time (or at least not Googleable). So the casual lip ring or “that’s what she said” joke may appear from time to time, if only to keep my sanity. Maybe I am just trying to convince myself, that while I may be on the road to being a responsible adult, I can always be the car with the weird paint job and awesome stickers on the back windshield.
I take it one day and one mile at a time.
Bryce Rudow is 24 and works at a social media marketing agency in
Rosslyn, Virginia. He is also co-owner of Relentless Ventures, a venture capitalist/marketing strategy company and the parent company of humor site Broston College. He loves rugby, peanut butter, and his dog, Kanye. Follow him on Twitter: @BTR0218
If you are interested in contributing to the Quarterlife Crisis series feel free to contact me.