I am getting old. Or maybe just growing up. Maybe they are the same thing.
I am no longer shocked by the shocking things I hear. Most scandals don’t scandalize me anymore, save the very grievous ones.
It seems none of us survives our twenties. At least five people from my graduating class are dead now: three from car accidents, a drug overdose, a suicide. Some of us actually die in our twenties. Most of us don’t make it with our hope intact. Maybe that’s a fate worse than death.
What is it that happens to us in this decade? This is when life is supposed to really begin—find a career, find ourselves, fall in love, get married, make the world better. Instead, so many of us tread water, stand still, unable to move forward and make it work. Maybe we’re so stunned that life actually takes some heart, takes some fight, and requires a little bit of stubborn, never-mind-the-consequences hope, we don’t know what to do.
Our video games never taught us this. Our IMing and social media and books never taught us this. They may have been places to which we could escape, where everything worked out in the end—or at least we could pretend it had, even if it hadn’t. They never made real for us the fact that sometimes, things don’t work out, and we have to be honest about it. They never taught us to practice resiliency or resourcefulness, or commitment, or dedication, or perseverance. So now, when life does what it will do, require more from us than mediocre ambivalence, we’re not sure we can do it. We lay down somewhere in our soul and refuse to get up. We refuse to move forward, or if we do move forward, we refuse to be happy about it.
This, surely, is not what life is about. This isn’t all there is. This isn’t simply inevitable, a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. As fatalistic in their approach to life as some of my fellow twenty-somethings are, this way of letting things mow us over is a choice.
To be honest, it’s a choice I’ve made over and over these last few months. It’s a choice I never want to make again. I want to make a new choice in the opposite direction, to stand firm, step forward, and make a life worth living. I have all the tools I need. Now is simply time to do something about it.
Let me start making meals again, going to new places, meeting new people.
Let me stop working myself to death. Let me stop focusing on what’s wrong, and instead see everything that’s good. Let me acknowledge what’s hard, but lean in a little deeper anyway.
The time has come, y’all. We’re grown. Let’s finally live. At the end of the day, we only get this one life. I am convinced, now more than ever, that it is full of crazy, insane hope. Let’s encourage that hope. Let’s dig deeper. Let’s choose the growth that challenges offer, not despair that challenges are there in the first place. Challenges will come. I want to be the kind of woman who welcomes them rather than runs from them. I want to embrace them and watch them change me into a stronger, freer, more joyful, loving person.
They can do that, you know. But first we must stop admitting defeat before we’ve even raised the war cry.