Every now and then I’m struck with the crippling, overwhelming feeling of “not enough” or “less than.” Usually it’s relatively fleeting and can be silenced by a weekend getaway or a really good movie. Or frozen yogurt… sometimes frozen yogurt is all it takes.
And then there are those weeks when you turn 31 and you just, like, CAN’T BREATHE for a second. Which is silly because you have no gray hair or wrinkles yet, were born without a biological clock, and are actually living a pretty perfect life right now. Wait, did I say you? There’s a chance I might be talking about myself here.
So my life is pretty good, and 31 is the new 21, right? But WHY AM I NOT A PUBLISHED AUTHOR YET? HOW COME I KEEP GAINING WEIGHT INSTEAD OF LOSING IT? WHY DON’T I SPEAK MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE?
Let’s not dwell too long on the fact that I have never attempted to write a book, have been consuming more calories than I burn, and have yet to install those “Learn French” and “Learn Italian” programs my dad bought me. BUT WHY AM I SO WOEFULLY UNACCOMPLISHED IN LIFE????
Seriously, where do those thoughts come from? By all accounts, I’m doing just dandy – better than most even, depending on how you look at it. But that’s just it – it’s about how you look at it. For whatever reason, this birthday temporarily messed up my perspective, and I seem to have misplaced my bedazzled, rose-colored glasses.
Part of the reason I’m having a harder time shaking these thoughts this time is that 31 sounds so much OLDER than 30 to me. 30 was a big deal – it was a milestone, a celebration of grandiose proportions. Seriously – I threw myself an over the top masquerade ball, complete with DJ, bartender and photo booth. And I was focused on celebrating all the positives in my life: my relationship, my career, my friends and family. And the reality is, since then, those things have gotten even better.
So why this strange melancholy over the big 3-1? Why the inability to look at things in a positive light? Honestly, I’m not sure, but I have a feeling that the multiple ankle surgeries, constant pain, and subsequent weight gain have a little to do with it.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t had to battle some depression when my second surgery rolled around last fall. It was tough, but I made it through. And Gil and I didn’t kill each other, so that’s a real accomplishment. But all signs point to recovery (as slow as it may be), so I can’t really blame it all on that. And I can’t exactly put my finger on what else is going on, but I have some ideas.
Mainstream media would have me believe that it’s just my constant dissatisfaction as a millennial – my belief that I’m a special little unicorn and deserve more out of life somehow than just a good life. Well, I AM A SPECIAL FUCKING UNICORN. A BIG PINK ONE. AND I DO WANT MORE.
If you ask me, this is not a character flaw of the millennial generation. A blatant sense of entitlement, an unwillingness to put in the legwork or the inability to be open to constructive criticism are major character flaws, but those are separate issues. The true belief that one is special and can accomplish anything is pretty damn powerful. And because we live in the age of social media, we can see the results of that power every day. I can see when every single one of my peers gets promoted (thanks LinkedIn). I know when anyone decides to travel the world (hi Facebook). I even know what they paid for their dream house (helloooo Zillow).
And I can also see this information about strangers. People my age or younger who are starting their own businesses, writing books, travelling the world, and following their dreams. These become weird, out-of-context, unattainable benchmarks. Not in small part due to the fact that I’m only seeing one very shiny version of reality on my computer screen. There is no way to keep up with that. And there’s no point either. Comparing myself to others isn’t going to get me anywhere. Except maybe a shrink’s office for Xanax.
Using their success as an inspiration isn’t a bad idea though. I just need to adjust my perspective.
I need to track down my bedazzled, slightly smudged rose-colored glasses and look at those success stories as inspiration instead of another reason to put myself down. Instead of “not enough” I need to train myself to think “not yet” – because it IS possible whatever “it” may be. I AM A UNICORN.
Or rather, I CAN be, if I put in the time. There are more opportunities than ever to succeed and excel in ways that weren’t ever possible before. If I really want to write a book, I don’t have to get picked up by a publisher – I can self-publish and promote on social media and oversee the movie version starring Scarlett Johansson as me. Or you know, the lead character inspired by me. Whatever. I mean, I have to WRITE the book first, but I don’t want to get too bogged down in those details.
I need to move past this destructive idea that I need to be achieving the same things I can see other people achieving on the same timeline in order to be special.
Maybe I’ll never write a book. Maybe I’ll never lose all the weight. Maybe I’ll only ever speak one language. The reality is, some days when I get home from my office job after my hour plus commute in the evenings, I am MUCH more inclined to take off my bra than take over the world. Some days bad TV and a glass of wine are going to win out over French lessons. That’s OK. I’m already pretty special, every pound and all 31 years of me.