Young Adult Friction
When I was four, I had a conversation with my best friend’s brother, who was a few years older than us. I don’t remember how it started, but I do remember that he was bragging about all the cool things older kids could do.
My response to this was to say, “But you can’t shoot a cannon even if you wanted to, huh?” He had no comeback.
In his defense, if someone were to say the same thing to me today, I would also be at a loss for words. For some reason, to my four-year-old self, the ability to shoot a cannon was the mark of adulthood. When you’re responsible enough to man a heavy piece of war machinery, you’re responsible enough to be a grownup.
My friends and I whine about becoming grownups a lot. There’s just so much stuff you have to do and none of it involves cannons.
Every couple of days, I go through these intense mood swings that freak everyone around me out. I’ll be whistling and laughing one moment because life’s a fillet of fish, and the next second I’m rocking back and forth in a dark corner, muttering to myself and making 30-page long to-do lists. I can blame hypoglycemia and bad weather as much as I want, but I’m pretty sure it will only get worse over the next six months, when the catalyst for this serious case of the crazies finally passes: I’m graduating in May and it’s freaking me out.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have reached this point in my life. I’m excited to see where life after college takes me, and I can’t wait to say snooty things in Latin like, “I’m an alumna of my alma mater, e pluribus unum, simper fi, et cetera.” (I’m not great with Latin.) All those things sound swell, but I think I’d appreciate them more if the whole thing didn’t make me want to hide under every blanket within a five-mile radius.
Freaky Thing #1: I lied. I’m not excited to see where life after college takes me.
I have this horrible sinking feeling that life is sort of a “fly by the seat of your pants” deal, and I am not that kind of gal. I’d like life to pick me up at the airport with a neatly-lettered sign and present me with an itinerary so detailed it verges on anal. I want to know exactly where I’ll be at 5:00 p.m. on June 25, 2026 and precisely who will be there with me. For the first time in my life, I don’t have any kind of plan and I’m not handling it well. It turns out I’m only ok at improvising in the “take suggestions from the audience” sense.
Freaky Thing #2: I forgot how school works.
In the past, I knew I’d have at least another year to retake a class if I messed it up horribly, but I never had to do that. Now that I don’t have that buffer, the pressure’s on. I’ve lost all faith in my ability to pass classes. As soon as my photojournalism professor announces my pictures don’t have strong narrative, I start mentally berating myself for being unable to point a camera at something and photograph it LIKE ANY NORMAL PERSON. CHIMPS CAN DO THIS, STEPHANIE! YOU DON’T DESERVE FRIENDS OR HAPPINESS! GO CRY IN YOUR BLANKET FORT! The abuse is so intense that I’m thinking of moving to a women’s shelter just to get away from myself.