Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Mid-Youth Crisis:

On Thursday, 12 April 2007, I will be exactly twenty-five years old. I have this thought that it's at about four o'clock in the afternoon, but that could be four in the morning, I really don't remember.

They say twenty-five is the new eighteen. I'm not sure who they are, of course, and I really don't quite know what it means, but I think it applies to me pretty well. I don't know where I am, and I have no idea where I am going.

Am I happy with where I'm at? Sometimes. I'm in the best shape of my life. I can do things I would've never thought possible. I spend most of my free time riding my bike, drinking coffee, or reading something that was written before I was born. I think I get more fresh air than I can handle, and I sit around at coffee shops in seattle writing stories in journals with a fountain pen. Yes, I am that cliche.

We're not supposed to have regrets. We're not supposed to bother with hindsight's auto-correction feature. "If only" doesn't get us anywhere.

Twenty-five. I'm not supposed to be a kid anymore, right? Most of my friends have college degrees. Some have several. Some have been all over the world, some have careers, some have families. I've got a blue-collar job, half of a degree, some debt, and a bicycle. Some days, I think that is all right. Other days, I get too caught up in what might have been. Some days, all I can do is ask the world for another chance.

I used to think that this whole "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" was a myth, a joke, a facet of the over-medicated, for-profit pharmaceutical industry. Well, maybe. But when I tell people that I took a year and half between high school and college, I tell them I wanted to "find myself." Or, I tell them I wanted to work, experience the real world, save some money. But the honest-to-gods truth is that, towards the end of high school, when it was time to apply for college, I was mostly tripping over my nose trying not to drop out of the thing. The prospect of researching colleges, sending applications, and all of the rest seemed too daunting; I didn't really know where to start. Okay, I knew exactly where to start, but it was too hard to get going. So I simply did nothing. I will admit it, too, that I was afraid of applying and being turned down, since my can't-get-my-homework-done-to-save-my-life self didn't even meet the minimum grade-point requirement for state college. Never mind the part about having fourteen-whatever on the SAT's and nearly every AP class in the book. Only at a place like the upper-class suburb I grew up in would I have the opportunity to take all those classes, and only there would I be in the bottom third of my class for having a 2.7 GPA.

I tell people that the reason I am not "taking classes this term" is because, again, I'm trying to save up for classes. I'm an economics major. I'm a junior. I don't have that much left, right?

But the truth is it's a long road out of this hole. I was going to school with the very generous financial assistance of both my parents and the Financial Aid department. Unfortunately for me, there are certain benchmarks you have to meet with both in order to maintain your aid. Did you know that if you do not pass enough classes that your financial aid will be retroactively revoked? It's true! So, in order to go to school again, I'd have to pay off a pretty solid chunk -- what seems like an impossible amount at my current income level -- just to get back to zero, and then I would need to, you know, dredge up the money for the classes that I would take.

The shame is probably the worst part of it for my fragile little head. I'm a middle-class caucasian kid from the suburbs of America. I had every advantage worth mentioning. When you can have inspriational stories about inner-city kids working hard to make ends meet and rising to the top of their classes anyway, the tales of all these folks who didn't have it so easy and still kick ass, how is it even possible that I screwed this up?

So, I race my bike. I work. I train. I exhaust myself enough that I scarcely have time to clean up my apartment, let alone think of this kind of thing. When I am riding, I can't really care about what kind of stupid job I am working, or the successes or failures of the past. If I do think of that on the long, lonely road, all I've got to do is find a hill and push down harder. The blood pounding through my ears shuts out all of the voices.

It's so easy, how could I do anything else?

Twenty five.

It's more complicated than I thought.

3 Comments:

  • At 10:16 PM , Blogger josh said...

    you got me all depressed for being 20 and wanting to "grow up" to be you. thanks. this is worse than when i found out there was no easterbunny (ironically, that was this past saturday.) :)

    it cant be that bad, can it?

     
  • At 10:30 PM , Blogger Argentius said...

    No, it isn't that bad, really. A lot of it isn't bad at all. But I do feel lost.

    If I met me from five years ago, today, the twenty-year-old me would want to grow up to be exactly who I am. That's pretty comforting.

    I wouldn't change a thing about who I am.

    The only thing I want to change is where.

     
  • At 10:15 PM , Blogger proto said...

    Hey man, I appreciated "Mid-Youth Crisis." You are one of the coolest guys i know. Hit me up sometime.

     

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