Sunday, April 01, 2007

Hitting home

This article really hit home with me. Not because I come from a highly privileged town (I don't) or attended an elite public school (I didn't), but because I think that every girl I know can relate to the pressure these kids are feeling today. We were on the cusp of it eight years ago, when four AP classes were becoming "the norm," when I felt like I not only could take, but also needed to take those courses, plus serve as the yearbook editor, plus volunteer at two different agencies, plus hold down a job.

I worry about these kids. A lot. What happens when they turn 25, like I have, and realize that they never paused long enough to figure out where they were going? All my life, I've been on a self-selected track that I just assumed would lead to somewhere that made sense. Instead, I'm here, wondering what the hell I'm supposed to do now when all of that work (which I loved) isn't leading to jobs, or bliss, or a real sense of what exactly I crave to do more than anything in this world. So what do I do now? What happens when you realize that all of your work to prepare yourself isn't going to help, because you never quite figured out what you were preparing yourself for? You just thought you'd be on the right track because you thought (with the limited ability of any young kid) that you had done everything you could to get on it. Now, I'm not sure if there is a track, let alone if I know how to find it -- or if, in this speed-crazed, income-disparate, "do it all asap" world, anyone my age is really going to have a chance to figure things out before their options pass them by.

To be blunt, it's fucking terrifying. Paralyzing. I know what would make sense: pull back, take a breath, do something random until the picture comes together. But I can't. There's something in me that drives me to understand right now, to pick a direction and get moving before it's too late to choose. It's like most of the people I know are frantic, throwing things up in all directions to see what sticks, or going with the one track they're on even if it doesn't feel right anymore. None of us know what to do now. And I worry for these girls. The mounting pressure to know what you want before you even understand who you are, the sense that nothing you do is good enough to get where you might want to go...sooner or later, people are going to crumble under the weight of their own expectations. And I don't know if anyone knows how to slow us down before we come undone.

Gotta love your mid-20s crisis, right? Gaaah.

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