In Taylor Tomilson’s Netflix special Quarter-Life Crisis, she describes her 20s as a decade of asking herself, “Will I outgrow this, or is this a problem?” For the first time in a long time, I actually felt ahead in the game — I’ve been asking myself that very question since I was 16 and crying in a parking lot over a boy who was remarkably bad in bed.
I don’t really resent the events that led to the emotional turmoil I experienced in my teenage years anymore. That is partially because I’ve worked through them in therapy, but mostly because I can no longer recall the specifics of most of what happened. I read somewhere that this erasure is supposed to be a coping mechanism, but part of me hates it. It pisses me off that I have all of this angst and I can’t pinpoint where it comes from. It’s like a massive pile of horseshit was hurled onto my lap, and I never even got to see the horse.
Like any well-adjusted young adult, I’ve spent the last couple of years shouting into the void at my teenage years, “Hey! You know all that trauma you went through and didn’t know how to process? Let’s do that over again! I know how to deal with it now,” because I’m stuck with all these weird anxieties that I honestly do not have time to deal with. For instance, emails are terrifying to me (albeit infinitely less traumatic than phone calls). Yes, I am a fully grown woman whose heart rate becomes scattered when she receives a Gmail notification on her phone.
Last night, after months of ignoring emails, I finally grew tired of scrolling past hundreds of time-sensitive messages to find my Urban Outfitters account number and decided to confront my vicious mailbox headfirst. When I was finished, I floated around the house thinking to myself, “Look at this great thing you just did!” It turns out greatness is, in fact, subjective, and I resent the fact that I now equate it to sorting through electronic mail.
I wish I could say that I will do a better job of coping in my 20s, but I realize that it is not entirely in my hands. Far be it from me to imply that anyone, including yours truly, is failing when they become overwhelmed by their emotional unease. A more realistic wish might be that I can properly register my 20s in a way that I didn’t my teenage years. The horse crap is inevitable, I’m sure, but never again will I fail to recall the horse. When the time comes for me to enter my 30s, I hope to ride triumphantly into a new decade on the back of the horse that shit on me.