With The Rest of My Life stretching out before me endlessly and a New York Times article demanding to know what is wrong with twenty-somethings and why they don't settle down already, confusion and frustration are reigning supreme. Confusion because I am determined not to be one of those twenty-somethings who are unable to handle responsibility, and frustration because the less preachy side of me is sadly acknowledging the end of an era.
I'm not talking about the end of selfishness, or freedom, or college parties. I'm talking about the end of a life where your friends push you through every crisis. Because let's face it; post-college friendships are never quite the same. The lines between friends and family become less blurry and the inevitability of everyone going in different directions becomes more apparent. It's now that I am starting to be assailed with panic at the silence at my door and windows: the sound of friends not knocking. What can I count on anymore-and will it ever be the same again?
Knowing that those of my friends who haven't already scattered will do so soon leaves me feeling oddly rootless. Knowing that I thought of myself in relation to several groups of others leaves me feeling oddly inadequate. How much can we matter to one another when we no longer need one another?
I know, of course, that growing up doesn't mean you stop needing your friends, or that you somehow become self-sufficient, cold-hearted recluses, but I also know that they are not-or should not be-your lifelines anymore. While we all make individual commitments-to careers, passions, romantic partners-we slowly sever ourselves from the Before, without much idea of what comes After. I used to like knowing what comes After. I like to pretend I revel in uncertainty now, I like pretending I am completely in control of my smooth transitions from one phase into another, but the truth is, I can't stop worrying about how much I will miss having someone's room to walk to in the middle of the night when I think my room is haunted. I can't stop expecting to see a face in my window, or a note on my door inviting me to share instant noodles. I can't stop worrying about how I will deal with this facade of being a put-together adult with my friends on about thirty different paths. I can't stop worrying about whether I am the only one worrying. And I worry about how much sadness, how much alone-ness comes with this supposedly exhilarating new phase of my life.
What is there to say? I can't get over the irony of how navigating adulthood would be so much easier if we were all doing it together.