There are certain things in life you can just feel coming on, like a distant offshore wave that you can see inching closer and closer to the coast. In many ways you feel prepared for it when it comes but in other ways you haven’t the slightest notion how to begin planning for its arrival.
Over the years, I’ve quite often found myself uncertain about my identity. During these times, my friends and family would encourage me with affirmations such as ‘;just be yourself .’ The caveat clearly being that my ‘self’ was often swallowed by layers upon layers of muddy egoic insecurities and self-limiting convictions. The older I get, the easier these uncertainties seem to dissipate and the more I begin to inch toward something else entirely&- for better or for worse, someone I never thought that I’d become.
When I was 8 years old, little rivaled the exhilaration that pulsed through my prepubescent bones upon receiving a letter in the mail from my Wisconsin pen pal. At 23, I’ve all but given up on adult correspondence. I screen calls to avoid uncomfortable questions and unsolicited conversations. I dodge e-mails and have a penchant for disregarding text messages for days on end. My overbooked, frenzied New York City way of life has turned me into a man who prioritizes emotional convenience over the needs of those closest to me. (Sorry Mom .)
2. My parents
Once upon a time, I felt pretty au courant. I fed my Giga Pets during recess and saw Fall Out Boy in concert before they went down swinging. I never thought there would be a day where I’d find myself, much like my father, incapable of understanding popular culture. But seriously, what gives?
Is Lady Gaga parodying Weird Al parodying Lady Gaga? Are you absolutely certain that Selena Gomez and Demi Levato aren’t the same person? How long do we have to pretend that this Lorde character is anything more than a repacked millennial facsimile of Alanis Morissette with a mere fraction of the talent? How is it that Eminem is this old and still so pissed off?
3. A foodie
I’ve been known to throw grandiose amounts of shade toward the schmuck at the dinner table who spends half of the meal cataloging his alleged food allergies. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy dietary restrictions as much as the next Whole Foods shopper, but I’ve always associated gluten free, vegan, no-carb, all-cardboard diets with Los Angeles parvenus who enjoy making a fine art out of pretension. However at some point over the past couple of years, my teenage mutant ninja stomach turned against me and certain ingredients just don’t digest the same. Gone are the glory days of bottomless three-cheese quesedillas and mint chocolate chip ice cream.
4. A cynic
My outlook on life and love, at one point, had been painted white, or possibly a pale cream. I never spent my days kissing frogs or traveling to faraway kingdoms in search of potential suitors, but still I felt generally optimistic about the whole ordeal. However, years of dust and dirt have painted my view the color of spoiled milk; it has no ornament. No argument, no message. At times, I hear my single friends trying to decode the subtext of a tweet or message they received from someone they’re romantically pursuing and it takes everything I have to avoid saying, ‘;Maybe the reason that there are butterflies in your stomach isn’t because some handsome schmuck glanced in your general direction; maybe there were just a few caterpillars in your leftover tex-mex burrito from last Wednesday night.
5. The guy eating alone
Not too long ago, there thought of flying solo in most social situations was incredibly crippling. Now I cherish an occasional solitary meal more than the sound of skate blades on ice or midnight train whistles. So much of my professional and personal life is peppered with forced pleasantries and strained small talk. Company is nice, but some nights there isn’t much I enjoy more than plopping down at a candlelit table for one, stealing sips from a local Cabernet and indulging in sweet soundlessness.
If you’re anything like me, you grew up preoccupied; scrambling around a big city searching for answers, studying for exams, going to overpriced bars and making a lot of other irrevocable miscalculations that your parents never seemed to understand. I was almost certain that my gaze had been indefinitely arrested by chaos. Today I find comfort in knowing that somehow a person can be wretchedly disconnected and quite content at the same time. Knowing that it’s okay to be unfinished makes the implausibly daunting task that is getting out of bed on a Monday morning a little easier, which alone is worth more than words can describe.