I received a letter in the mail last week from my best friend who is living out in Los Angeles. She’s a young 20something, extremely bright and beyond beautiful. We first met in New York, where I admired her bravery for talking to cute strangers and her determination for finding the correct path toward happiness. I love her dearly and know her well. As I read her words, I can sense the distress in her tone, the tears she was trying to hold back. She’s at the ripe age when the world is telling you to find a career, a life partner, a place to settle down and lay your roots, and she was concerned that she didn’t have it all figured out.
It’s hard when your mom wonders why you don’t have a boyfriend. “But you’re such a pretty girl!” I haven’t stepped in a classroom yet and people are already asking me what I’m going to do after I graduate. “Have you started looking for a job yet?” We all get this big push from society to be someone, to label ourselves, to pick one group we can’t escape from. Why? Why can’t we just say that we don’t know what we’re doing with our lives other than simply living it. I understand the importance of security in the form of jobs and having a future family but why is there such a heavy weight attached to it? We shouldn’t have to justify why we’re still trying to figure things out. Some of us take longer than others. I know that I’m one of the lucky few who knew what she wanted to pursue career-wise. I never second guessed about journalism (even though social work was calling my name for a brief while). Relationship-wise, I have no fucking idea what I’m doing. I know that I want to get married and adopt children one day but I’m riding that train out. You shouldn’t have to follow anyone’s expectations but your own. Though, it’s easier said than done. How do you build that expectation for yourself- I say, just follow your heart. That should give you enough of a drive in creating a life that you love and are proud of.
One of my favorite rappers right now is Childish Gambino (a.k.a. the hilarious and very handsome Donald Glover). In his song V. 3005, he raps, “Man, nobody out here’s got it figured out/ So therefore, I’ve lost all hope of a happy ending/ Depending on whether or not it’s worth it.” His lyrics have some truth (I’m a fan of happy endings and think that they can happen). Most people have no idea what they’re doing. They either fake it until they make it or just say ‘fuck it’ and dive right in. We can think about it for years and years and we will never have the answers to those great life questions. So, the best thing to do is just enjoy the ride. That doesn’t mean drop everything and stop working hard. That’s when we find lovers and our dream jobs. But don’t strain yourself. Seriously- take some to smell the roses. Their scent is sweet.
Dear reader, I know that life is painful. Things don’t happen the way you expect them to. There’s heartbreak and doubt (a ton of both). We wentleft when we should have turned right. But keep your chin up. Keep calm and carry on. The British government used that slogan before the start of World War Two in order to keep its citizens strong as the German began dropping bombs on the country. If you’re feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders, feeling like bombs are about to drop on your pretty head, take a step back. Breathe deeply and remind yourself that you’re going to be fine, whether or not you have everything figured out (and if you do, please tell me your secrets!). You will find your happy ending sooner than later- I promise. (And Baby Bird, you got this.)