"Sometimes you’re flush and sometimes you’re bust, and when you’re up, it’s never as good as it seems, and when you’re down, you never think you’ll be up again. But life goes on." -Blow
There is this book, and if you’re about to be in your twenties, in the midst of your twenties, or your twenties are long past – you should read it. It’s called the “Twenty-something Manifesto,” and I’ve never found an article, a blog post, or a well-intentioned piece of advice that sums up our condition better. I’m rather curious from a sociological perspective as to whether the “twenty-something” condition as it stands today is unique to our generation. Or, if in fact, every twenty-something throughout the decades has faced the same looming uncertainty.
Being twenty in the two thousands means you don’t know which way is up. It is highly likely you’ve never had to work a hard day in your life by the time you stumble into the workforce. You depart college with a false sense of entitlement and an illusion that everyone in the world shares your same outlook on life and liberty. I thank my parents every day for encouraging me to work for the things I have, but I was still privileged — and life was not difficult by any means.
If you are a female, well then you have 50% less certainty than your male counterparts. Once upon a time the “expected” path for a woman to take was to work on her smile, her wit, her glamour, and then wait. Wait for a man to come along and give her life meaning. Someone to care for, someone to provide with progeny, someone to define her existence.
There are days I wish it was still that simple. That this was the only option. So simple, so linear.
Sometimes I see myself following that path. I’m playing the supporting role to a fabulous man. Keeping a house, raising children, and taking pride in building a life where my family is safe, and treasured. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the career of homemaker is any less esteemed, or deserving of less merit than any other. I just can’t quite figure out if it’s really the road for me.
What our generation of women has that our predecessors did not, is that we are finally becoming equal to men in means and opportunity. Where once there was one path, now there are many. The only element lagging behind is social acceptance.
Recently I took a fabulous trip to the Westglow Resort & Spa in Blowing Rock. I treated myself to 3 days of luxury – breathtaking mountain sunrises, invigorating yoga sessions, and indulgent spa services. It was absolutely wonderful. The perfect release.
And then, it was ruined. By day three I had grown weary of the questioning looks. The constant inquiries from the females I encountered. The resort staff –“oh you’re travelling alone?” The subtle judgment from my waitress — “Why didn’t you celebrate your promotion with a trip for two?” The patronization from the surgically enhanced doctor’s wife — “Bless your heart! Good for you, treating yourself.”
Why were they unable to recognize my trip for what is was? This was about me. About my achievements – about the fact that I had worked so hard, and with such dedication, that I could gift myself with a lovely escape. I was successful, I was young, and I was moving on my own schedule. Why didn’t anyone else see that this was wonderful?
So here I am, caught somewhere in this ambiguous divide. Am I flush, or am I bust? Should I be proud I’m independent? Or, should I be disappointed I’m at this stage as a “single”? Society keeps telling me it’s not enough to have a promising career, a close circle of friends, and a strong sense of self. I’m supposed to want that missing piece — that other person who plays the yin to my yang.
Honestly I have no idea how I feel. There are days when I feel life can’t get any better and everything is as it should be. But, then I encounter periods of lingering gloom – when it feels like I’m waiting for something else. Being a student of psychology, I can’t tell whether it is the internal or the external causing my outlook to totter between the two extremes. But, it’s like Johnny said – Life goes on.