The Schizophrenic 20s

An article I wrote 4 years ago.  Still relevant, ha!

I want it, I don’t want it.  I am that, I’m not that.  I am Danny and I’m 24-years-old.  Those first two sentences about sum up my state of mind at any given point in time, both immediate and distant.  I’m only four years in, but I feel like four years is long enough to possess a hunch as to what is going on.  And it seems as though Schizophrenia is what is going on right now.  And no, I do not intend the psychiatric disorder interpretation of the word, but rather the offensive term variety for “contradictory or conflicting attitudes, behavior, or qualities,” as illustrated by the dictionary look-up feature on my computer.

But seriously, this is the twilight period, the period of true self-discovery.  Up to this point — speaking from an average middle-class status — your life has been scripted for the most part: you attend elementary, middle, and then high school, trying to achieve the best grades possible so you can get into college; apply to college with your above-average GPA, get in, decide on a major because you had to choose something, and then try to achieve the best grades possible to impress a future employer or get into grad school.

That’s where the yellow brick road ended for me.  Well, actually, I tried to keep it going.  I attended law school in an attempt to extend the false sense of security.  But law school is a serious endeavor, you have to want it; I didn’t, I was exposed, and I was out.  When you do what you’re supposed to do, you don’t have to answer questions or defend yourself.  When you go against the grain or start making left turns, you do.  The problem is, you can only hide under the facade of being in complete control of your life for so long before you’re spit out into the world, naked and cold.  That happened to me a smidgen over two years ago. And as of yet, I’ve managed to put on boxers and that’s about it.

Right now, the 20s, is the fulcrum of a teeter-totter.  Young behavior, as in freshman year of college, is appealing, but so also is mature behavior, as in, “hello, my name is Dr. Oliver.”

I want a career that is respectable and prestigious already, but I want to occasionally show up hung-over.  I want the respect I deserve, but I still want to act like a kid.  I want to take over all of my bills, but I like not paying my car insurance.  I want a serious girlfriend, then wife, for happiness and support, but did you just see that group of girls walk by?  I want to start watching my saturated fat intake, but did you say you wanted to get fourth meal at Taco Bell?  I want to be over the pathetic bar scene, but I want to see how drunk I can get first.  I want to stop cussing, but shit.  And so on.

There is no conclusion I can offer, seeing that I am still in the experiment. But I hope, and do believe, the conclusion is that the schizophrenic 20s is just that, the ending of the yellow brick road and the beginning of real life.  The journey is the end.  A necessary destination does not follow.  You’re not supposed to be on cruise control through this period of your life.  This is the period you hope to emerge from with an understanding of who you really are, following the script you wrote, not someone else.  I will say again, I hope, I don’t know.  Like I said, I’m still in the experiment.

Lighthearted, My Life

Leave a Reply