Musings on a quarter-life crisis & the myth of "finding yourself"
by Kate Sheridan (actor/writer/angsty post-grad)
Friends, I was so ready to give you a funny post this week. And it should have been easy! I mean, have you SEEN the infomercial for the Air Curler? (If you have ever had hair or a blow-dryer, you will immediately see how disastrous the concept is.) But try as I may to muster up some wit - I'm in a funk.
I know you'll forgive me, because we've all been there. And man, isn't post-grad ennui soul-crushing enough without being so damn sneaky? One minute you're chugging along, enjoying the summer sun, feeling ready for the future- and the next, you're sobbing at the end of Monsters University wondering if you, too, are fundamentally unsuited to the path you've chosen. Damn you Pixar!
I went to the normal things I go to when trying to get out of a funk - journaling, getting out of the house with friends, reading something inspiring. But as I looked to pick a book - The Artist's Way, Eat Pray Love, Zen and the Art of Insert-Mundane-Hobby-Here - I stopped at a disgruntling thought.
Do I have to do something extraordinary to find myself?
BUT I'M 23! WHAT ABOUT THEN?!?[from PostSecret]
More so, I've always been someone who's put an intense and mostly unncessary premium on momentousness. Large scale change, small but significant signs from the universe - I crave them to order my life and cosmically signal me towards the next right step. But more often than not, these moments don't come. Or they don't work. Or I try so hard to find them that the universe laughs even more fervently in my face (on a five-day silent retreat I took in college, I had a noble dream of going to the nearby pond to skinny-dip by moonlight as a pseudo-baptismal sign of my newfound peace with God; instead, I found a swamp behind a baseball field's power generator and merely peed there in defeat.) So to even subliminally expect myself to succeed only upon bold and extravagant adventure isn't fair or practical. But then how?
Perhaps the problem is the notion of "finding" one's self in the first place. Where am I hiding? In the jungle? In the ghetto? In a bag of cocaine to pick up for the sole purpose of eventually triumphing over? What was I before I was found? I should also mention that I have no desire whatsoever to hike anything, because I am overweight and find those things unpleasant. I understand, in theory, the draw of using one's body to conquer challenges, a "triumph of the human spirit" kinda thing, but gah... isn't there another way? MUST WE ALL RUN HALF MARATHONS TO KNOW INNER PEACE?
Listen, I understand that magic happens outside of your comfort zone.
(Even before GIRLS told me so.)[source]
But at present, I'm not in a place, financially or otherwise, to do much other than what I'm doing - living at home, working a survival job, and trying to stay creative & open to opportunity while I get on my feet. While it's not thrilling, I do so with the obvious hope that growth and happiness are still achievable, and that there are still things to learn from even the more mundane eras of my life.
An alternative, then, could be the oft-quoted "Life isnt about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself." But inspiring as that may be, "creating" myself doesn't pay respect to the person I am now, or the person I've been. While it's tempting to run away from the messier, misguided incarnations of myself, that Kate needs to be embraced... the same way I will one day look back at the messy, misguided Kate I am today and love her, in all her angsty glory.
So maybe it's not in finding yourself OR creating yourself. Maybe it's about enjoying yourself. Improving yourself. And trying your damnedest to accept yourself - even on weeks when you can't get out of that funk. If you can manage that, I'd say that's pretty extraordinary in and of itself.
As the brilliant Fuck! I'm In My Twenties put it:
is an actor, writer, singer, and mediocre ukulele player from MA. She did not actually cry at Monsters University, but cried thinking about it later that night, which may be worse. She does, however, LOVE a fancy breakfast sandwich.
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