Monday night found me six cookies in, hair plastered to my face, mascara smeared across my white pillowcases, a
maybe definitely too-full wine glass on my bedside table and a fervid desire to make like Jennifer Garner and go from 22 to 30 overnight. I had a long day at work only to come home to an email letting me know that I did not get my dream position at my dream publication that I had interviewed for a few weeks prior. I was as aforementioned depiction suggests completely devastated.
Suddenly I wanted nothing more than to speed up time and skip all of this instability and insecurity and ramen. I wanted to be thirty, flirty and thriving. I wanted a career and a husband and an apartment that didn’t perpetually smell like socks. I was ready and willing to give up the reaming years of my youth for a mortgage and all because I didn’t get the job that I was so sure was about to change my life.
It didn’t really hit me until I was mid-conversation with my best friend of eight years–me sobbing, her soothing, as usual–that the last thing in the world I was ready to be was 30. If this is how I handled a fairly moderate setback, then I have a lot to learn in the next seven years. And as we reminisced about the past, I realized that as fondly as we talked about high school and now college, we would someday (probably sooner that we think) be talking about these times with the same tender endearment. Nostalgia has a wonderful way of bringing fourth the good while letting the bad fall to the wayside, like stars piercing through an otherwise dark black sky. We remember so clearly the good things, even the good that we couldn’t appreciate or process at the time.
Time has a way of putting everything in a context, and the bad is never ever as bad as we understand it be in the moment.
Though college was wrought with insecurities and growing pains, now I really only remember the loving faces of good friends, the lyrics of the songs we danced to and the nights we thought would never end. Those moments are idealized and romanticized in my head and in a way I wish that I could back and live those moments again and with a stronger appreciation for them. And I am sure that these tedious days of underpaid jobs, tiny apartments, cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner–that these are the days that I will one day miss just as ardently.
I am so quick to complain about the banalities and the struggles of being 22 in a big city. I compare my life to the lives of others and I when I find mine comes up short I complain even more. I forget how privileged I am to be young in a city pursing my dreams. The obstacles I face are so minor on the scale of life. My understanding of struggling so different than say that of a family of five who have just lost their source of income. There is so much freedom and so much room for error allotted to this time in my life that I don’t appreciate or take advantage of. When else in my life will I only have myself to worry about? When else can I decide I want to save my money for a one-way ticket to Paris and feel completely justified and guilt-free in doing so. Being young comes with its fair share of plights but it also grants a certain privilege. For not much longer will I be able to blame my naivety and my lack of experience on this earth for dating the asshole or for spend my entire paycheck at Whole Foods. People come to expect a lot more from you when you’re 30.
One day I am sure I will miss every last ramen flavored minute of this life I am living. I will miss not only the victories and the cheap bottle of champagne christened celebrations but I am sure I will miss the failures and how minor the consequences were and how easy it was to get right back up and try again. Even the stupid nights that taught me my alcohol limits and the fake friends that taught me the value of the ones I already had held lessons that will help define me the rest of my life. I am sure I will look back and see how the stars aligned, how the dots connected, and be thankful for the night I didn’t get that magazine job.
For now I can only wake up and reread this article over and over and try to practice what I preach. I don’t want to wake up one day and realize that I let my youth slip by unappreciated and unfulfilled. I don’t want to have look back at my first year in the New York City like I look at my first year of college nostalgic but also bitter that I didn’t appreciate it more when I was living in it. I want to relish in the beauty of being young and that feeling of endless opportunities. I want to feel the full pleasure of having my first apartment and even of paying that first-of-every-month rent check. I am here and I am in it and tomorrow is going to be a beautiful (albeit freezing) day if I let be.